Mein Shtetl Postov
by Yisrael Raichel
Privately published in Israel in 1977
Blurb on back cover:
Israel Raichel was born in Postov, in the [what was then] Vilna gubernia [= province]. He arrived in Eretz Yisrael as a halutz [Zionist pioneer]in 1923 and became a member of the G'dud Ha'avoda* in Jerusalem. He studied for two years in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1929 he went to Montreal to continue his studies. There he became one of the leaders of the Zionist-Revisionist Party. He wrote articles in the "Canadian Adler". In 1934 he moved to the United States where he became active in the Revisionist movement and took part in the well-known "Baltimore Conference".* He has been residing in Israel since 11971.
*Short descriptions of items marked with an asterisk can usually be found in most Jewish encyclopedias. However, if you don't have such an encyclopedia, I can copy out the entries from the one that I have (The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, Cecil Roth and Geoffrey Wigoder, eds.).
Foreword [pages 7–9]
I decided to write this book in Yiddish because I am more than sure that all the Postov Jews, who are dispersed throughout the world, can read Yiddish, but not all can read Hebrew.
This book is not only about ghetto life and, ultimately, death, as are the countless "memory books". My purpose was to write about the life of the Jews in Postov before this period of time. I wanted to determine when Jews began to settle in Postov and from where they came, and their sources of livelihood. Unfortunately, in my research I was unable to find any written materials that could help me in locating reliable information about events and facts other than official accounts.
Postov is a small town, and the significant historical events that occurred during the political, cultural and social development of the region were not recorded. No writers, thinkers or scholars wrote about Postov, and the town doesn't even appear on large-scale maps. But the Jews of Postov loved their shtetl, and they maintained a פארצווייגטע יידישע טעטיקייט strongly/traditional Jewish way of life in the past, and especially during the years following the First World War.
Everything written in this book is based on memories, personal experiences and information gathered from various individuals. I was also helped by books about the wars of the last hundred years, written memories of Jewish life in Lithuania, and encyclopedias in several languages.
I have not written dry facts and episodes. All of the events are accompanied by shorter or longer discourses about the political changes, and the cultural, economic and social developments that affected the ongoing events. For clarity it was necessary to include short historical episodes from the more recent past in Lithuania and especially in the Vilna district.
I have written in Litvisheh [Lithuanian] Yiddish, although I am not sure that I have been grammatically consistent in my writing. Fifty years of wandering in various different lands have undoubtedly affected my Yiddish writing. I hope that my dear readers will forgive me that some of the chapters contain personal anecdotes. I believe that I did not intend to relate my own biography, but the short biographical טיילן asides/sketches throw light on the Zeitgeist in that small point on the map, Postov, as well as on my own personal life history.
Shachne Achiasaf* (Tseplovitz), helped my with his knowledge of publishing, Alexander Ben-Hur (Manfil), Rachel Borovsky, Abba Weiner, Fima Wexler, Meir Tadress, Yaakov Feigel, Hanoch Reuveni (Rabinovitch), Zalman Rachman, Sh'muel Shteingold, Chava Shteingold and Arieyeh Sheftl, my wife Miriam, all helped with encouragement and patience.
As for those whose support, financial and moral, I have not acknowledged, and, and other sources for Postov's פאראיין---?--- that I have not included – I have, to my regret, been constrained to shorten the length of the book. I was also unable to include photographs from institutions, organization and individuals who were וואס האבן פיל בייגעטראגן צום פארשריט forthcoming with information about Jewish life in my little shtetl (shteteleh) Postov.
* Shachne Achiasaf (Tseplovitz), who died in 2004 at the age of 97, was my Aunt Bunia's husband. Various members of the family were in publishing in Lithuania/Belorus, and Shachne established a small but well-known publishing company in Palestine in 1937, which is still operating under his son Matan's ownership.
My Shtetl Postov (pp. 10–12)
Postov is located on the border between Lithuania and White Russia, midway between Vilna [Vilnius] and Palatzk. Prior to World War I Postov was under Russian dominance. One hundred years ago (i.e., about 1870-1880) Lithuania dominated Postov and even beyond it, deeper into Russia.
During World War I Postov was on the fighting line between Russia and Germany and was completely destroyed. After the war the town became, for two years, a battlefield between the Bolsheviks and Poland. The Bolsheviks finally had several victories and reached Warsaw. Being in a generous mood, or for political reasons, Russia returned to Lithuania part of the Vilna gubernia, up to Postov. The Miadlekeh River, which flows thorough Postov, was the border, so that half of the town was under Russian rule and half under Lithuanian control.
This did not last long. On 19 October 1920, the Polish General Zeligovski made a surprise attack on Lithuania and occupied part the Vilna gubernia of Lithuania and almost to Globok.
Postove remained under Polish control until 17 September 1939 when, as per an agreement with Hitler's Germany, Russia took over the entire region. On 21 June 1941 Germany attacked Russia, following which Postov remained under German rule until the Russians repulsed the German attack.
Postov's topography is remarkably beautiful. The town is surrounded by rivers and lakes, hills and valleys, great pine forests and fields. The Miadlekeh River, which flows through the town, emanates from Lake Naratzer, which lies between Miadlekeh and the Naratzer forests; it was in these forests that the partisans האבן געהערשט were active during almost the entire duration of the Nazi occupation. Cut timber was floated down the river (?the Miadlekeh River) to the Disenkeh River, which flows into the Dvina and thus finds its way to the Baltic Sea. In this way, the lumber reached Riga and Germany.
Postov had four main streets and several smaller side-streets. Under Polish rule the town grew. The entire town was paved with cobblestones and was therefore much less muddy than other towns in the area. Vilna Street was the town's crown. Both sides of the street were bordered with large, tall trees, and the military barracks, the great white palace with a large park surrounding it, and the Zamarik woods, made Vilna Street majestically beautiful and an attractive location for strolling.
The beautiful buildings on Market Place and others in the town, as well as large areas of open land around the town, had once belonged to Count Yozef Psedzhevski. Many old Jewish houses stood near the באדן ?bathhouse , which officially, but not de facto, belonged to Goyim. According to the old Russian laws, Jews were not allowed to own their own bathhouses. After the First World War several goyim wanted to take over the Jewish houses what stood on "their" bathhouses. Their demands were not legally recognized.
Prior to the Second World War there were about 2,500 Jews in Postov. The other residents were White Russians, Poles and a few Moslem families. The Jews spoke a "half" Litvisheh Yiddish, the goyim spoke Russian, White-Russian, Polish and, after the First World War, Lithuanian as well.
When Did Jews Settle in Postov (pp. 13–14)
I was not successful in finding information that could verify a definitive date for when Jews first began to settle in Postov. The Great Russian Encyclopedia of 1916 notes that in 1847 there were 551 Jews, and in 1897 there were already 1310, while the entire population was estimated as 2,397. Other encyclopedias report the same numbers.
According to my memory, there was a tombstone in Postov's [Jewish] cemetery [בית-עולם] from the 17th century. According to a map that appeared in the first volume of "Lithuanian Jewry", ["יהדות ליטא"], which was published in Tel Aviv in 1959, Jews were living in towns and villages in Lithuania in the 15th century. The Jewish settlements were marked on this map by the Lithuanian government as centers for tax-collection from [?by –ביי יידן ] Jews. As Jews were living in the 15th century in Polotzk, Drissa, Driya, Globok, Smargon and Oshmeneh, which also appeared on the map, one can state with full certainty [!פולער זיכערקייט] that Jews were also to be found in Postov at that time.
From where did the Jews come to Lithuania and Postov? As a result of the persecutions and pogroms Jews were forced to wander from land to land. Kiev was a gathering point of Jews. Well-known historians are of the opinion that the Jews that arrived in Kiev already in the eighth century were Kuzari* survivors. In the 12th century Jews fleeing the Crusades arrived from Germany. Jews migrated [איינגעוואנדערט] also from other countries. When, about 800 years ago, the Jews were forced to seek new homes, they came to Lithuania, and to Postov as well. The believers in Christianity and the Catholic ministers had no influence in Lithuania [at that time] and Jews found a safe place to settle down [איינצוארדענען], one that lasted for a long period of time, until the Second World War.
The Railway (p. 15)
Before the First World War, Postov was on a small railway line between Ponevezh and Berezvesht, which was one station after Globok. To travel to Vilna, one had to transfer at Novo-Sventchian to a second, wider-gauge railway line to Vilna, through which the train route between St. Petersberg and Warsaw passed.
During the war [WW I] years the Germans built a wide-gauge railway line from Novo-Sventchian to the front-line in Postov. This line made it possible to transport war materiel directly from Germany to the front-line. The Bolsheviks extended this line to the Russian rail hubs.
After the war, Postov shopkeepers/tradesmen [קרעמער] had a better connection with Vilna, where the more important wholesalers were located. This direct connection helped to improve business in Postov.
The Market Place (pp. 16–17)
The Market Place in Postov was recognized as the most beautiful in the entire region. Four main streets led into the market. Many years earlier, on Court [?ארטיקער] Street and all around Market Place large and beautiful white-washed buildings were erected, all according to a well worked-out plan . The larger shops were located in the nicer buildings, the smaller ones in similarly-constructed small wooden booths, all standing in small street-like formations according to an overall plan. A certain part of the market was set aside for traders who sold their goods [or produce –סחורה ] from wagons.
In the southern part of the Market there was a large building, also white-washed, that resembled a fortress. It may actually have been built, many years earlier, for defensive purposes. In the center of this building, and through two large doors, there was a large courtyard into which horses and wagons could be driven. There were more shops both in this courtyard and outside the "fortress". The police commissioner and the police officers were quartered in a large building, as was the jail. Two Protestant churches, one of each side, "protected" the Market Place. Downhill from the Market, near the river, stood Postov's aesthetically beautiful Catholic cloister. The Miadlekeh River wound around three sides of the cloister and the convent/abbey [גלחס הויז], forming a true peninsula.
Monday was the market day, and a lot of trading went on. Almost all of the businesses were in Jewish hands. Traders from near and far bought grain, animals, פעלעכלעך _________, flax, pigs' hair, fruit, eggs and butter from the peasant farmers [פויערים]. The farmers were able to purchase all of their needs, from thread and a needle to a ready-made garment [קאסטיום -costume]. Traders began coming from further areas already on Sunday in order to be in the market as early as possible. For the Jews, the in-flow of so many Jews [from elsewhere] created a holiday atmosphere in the town.
The "Blind" River and Napoleon's Treasure (p. 18)
Actually, it wasn't really a river, but actually a small lake, about a virst long and virst across. Where the name "Blind River" came from is unknown. No one was even interested. Because of the black baths [באדן] all around, the water was as black as coffee, and this may be the reason behind the name "Blind River". There were only very small [אקענעס] __________ in the lake, and only a small amount. The אקענעס also had a dark appearance.
People believed that it was healthy to bathe in the dark waters of the lake. The waters were very still and therefore froze earlier than they did elsewhere, and so people began to ice-skate there sooner.
The black mud around the "Blind River" was overgrown with large blackberry bushes, which were called "pianitzes". During the months of Av and Elul [August and September] the whole town went out to pick blackberries.
There was a widely-known legend that Napoleon had left a great treasure in the lake, and that it comes out of the water from time to time. To the present time, no one has been able to catch the treasure. No one was even able to see it, because it disappears very quickly. The legend also tells that if one will give it a whack with a shoe, it will remain standing [וואלט דער אוצר געבליבן שטיין]. OR: will turn into a rock.
To this day, no one has been able to do this – probably because it takes too long to take off a shoe.
The Military Barracks (pp. 19–21)
The topography of Postov and the surrounding area drew the attention of the military headquarters in St. Petersburg at the end of the previous [i.e., 19th] century. Military experts came to the area and determined that it was a suitable place for a training base. For this purpose, a large building, which could hold 2000 people, was constructed at the end of Vilner Street. Behind this large building, in the forest that reached as far as the river below, small barracks were built for the soldiers who served the officers [? served under -- וואס האבן באדינט די אפיצירן ] , who lived in the large building, stables for the horses, and various other buildings needed for such a large military post.
In the large open area in front of the large building there was a large podium made of בעראזעווע planks. Here, on some evenings during the summer months, when officers from all over Russia came here for annual training and maneuvers, a brass band of about one hundred soldiers used to give concerts. On the right side of the barracks there were several tennis courts where the officers played tennis to the sound of the music.
Rows אלייען ] ]of tall trees lined both sides of Vilner Street, to the count's palace גראפס פאלאץ, which stood not far from the barracks. The entire aspect of the street was that of a "promenade". In the אלייען , there were long benches, and these were always filled with residents of Postov during the concerts. People from the surrounding areas also used to come to listen to the concerts.
A short distance away from the center of the town, on the right side of Vilner Street, there were barracks for the soldiers who remained in Postov the entire year long. They פלעגן אופפאסן maintained the entire base, and took care of the dogs, the foxes and the deer that the officers needed for their hunting games.
A bit further, on the left side of the street, a large high building stood, where the military musicians lived. A large number of these musicians were young boys, apparently the bastard sons of the officers, whom the army had adopted. This building stood at the edge of the Zamarik forest, where city youths פלעגט פארברענגען used to gather in the summer months.
In a large pine forest, seven viersts beyond the count's palace, the army had erected an arena for sports and races, with various high and low obstacles, over which, as part of their training, the officers used to teach their horses to jump. Sometimes a horse took fright from an obstacle and shied or ran sideways, thus throwing the rider officer.
There were longer and shorter races over hills and valleys, rivers and swamps, and these too were very interesting. They participants rode in groups, and each officer was free to ride however he thought was the best way to cover the distance in the shortest amount of time. Along the way, however, they had to go past certain known points, so that they couldn't shorten the predetermined distance. There were also clock-timed individual races. The rider had to come back to the point form which he set out, without missing any of the control points.
The chases after foxes and deer were also very popular. The animals were released and during the chase were either caught alive as they ran or wounded with a sword. Shooting was not permitted. These games went on throughout the entire summer. The officers and soldiers used to come, with their horses, by train from St. Petersburg. Many of Postov's residents wouldn't miss the arrival of the officers and soldiers and their wild horses, whose unloading and loading used to take a whole day.
The local children used to play various different soldier games, and would even make epaulettes, from those of ordinary soldiers to those of the general. The general was chosen by casting lots.
During the First World War the barracks were destroyed by the German הארמאטן קוילן artillery forces that held the front line אויסער around/in the vicinity of Postov for three years. Poland had established barracks in the forest not far from the train station.
The Arrest in the Forest (pp. 22–23)
Of a summery Shabbes in the evening, Jews strolled leisurely in the streets of the shtetl, their hands crossed either easily behind their backs, or being used to gesticulate in order to indicate the logic of the meaning of the point under discussion. The women and the smaller children followed them, and talked "in public" ["בציבור"] about ווייבישער wifely matters. The older children played their various children's games in the streets or in the courtyards. The שבת-שכינה Shabbes atmosphere [ n.b.: the שכינה Shechina is the Divine Presence[ dominated the entire town.
Suddenly the sound of marching could be האבן זיך דערטראגן heard in the distance. It sounded like a regiment of soldiers was on the march. When the marchers came close enough to recognize their faces, the people strolling in the streets were frightened and alarmed. The ones marching were their sons and daughters, accompanied by police and gendarmes, who held whips and revolvers in their hands. The police and the gendarmes were brutal, and simply drove the boys and girls like animals and even struck them with their whips. The young people were "statznikes" ["סטאצניקעס"] who were fighting for the right to have "statzkes" [?] or hold strikes in their struggle for better working conditions.
On this particular summer Shabbes, the Statznikes of the town held a covert meeting in the depths of the woods. By chance, וועכטער [not in my dictionary; a personal name?], known to be a complete reactionary and an anti-Semite, passed by. He immediately informed the local police commissioner about the meeting. The police commissioner quickly called policemen and gendarmes from the nearby towns and villages and they made an ambush on the gathering, with the hope of catching the "קארפן-קעפ" [lit. ?carp-heads = ? big shots] of the revolutionaries and to thus be worthy of recognition and great honor from the higher "נאטשאלניקעס" "natshalnikes" [?authorities] – and also perhaps a העכער אמט promotion. He was, however, sorely disappointed. The gathering had been encircled by a score of "look-outs" who gave an advance warning, which was heard throughout the forest, and warned of the coming ambush. The leader and many of those gathered together were able to get away in time.
Those who were arrested were released early on Sunday morning. The police commissioner האט אפגעשיקט אין דיסנע צום קרייז "סלעדאוואטעל" sent a protocol around to the "sledovartel" stating that the meeting had only been a cultural אויספלוג outing of young people. This protocol made the commissioner richer by several nice tens of rubles.
When the Russian Soldiers Celebrated Simchat Torah (pp. 24–25)
Soldiers were always to be found in Postov. They guardrf the military barracks and took care of the deer, the dogs and the foxes that the officers needed for their various summer games. In 1910 a large number of the soldiers decided to celebrate Simchas Torah.
They weren't really very interested in Simchas Torah itself, or in dancing with the Torah. For them this happened very often, without any connection to any specific date. They were, rather, greatly endeared with the bitter drop, vodka, and for them, only one yom-tov a year was definitely insufficient to satisfy their taste and love for Vodka.
In 1910 they decided to really celebrate the Jewish Simchas Torah. They lost all control and completely lost their heads דעם חשבון and their heads. On their way to the "מאנאפאלקע""monopolkeh" to buy more vodka, they insulted and even struck a few Jews who were on their way to the synagogue for the hakaffot. When those who had been attacked came to the synagogue, which was full of half-intoxicated Jews, they very quickly agreed to the suggestion of a couple of the younger fellows, that now was the suitable time to "square accounts" with the soldiers, and not only for the events of this evening, but for all of the soldiers' "good deeds" of the entire year.
Resolved and acted upon. The young Jewish fellows armed themselves with broomsticks, spades, shovels, and boards from fences, and with these "weapons" they fell upon the soldiers. This unexpected assault took the soldiers completely by surprise and, totally confused, they fled from the town. Some of them jumped over the fences in order to hide in the fields and gardens. The night was cloudy, and suddenly a strong harvest rain, accompanied by thunder and lightening, poured down. It looked like a real war scene.
Early the next morning, soldiers' שינעלן coats were found hanging on the fences. As they jumped over the fences, their long soldiers' שינעלן greatcoats were caught on the pointed boards. The soldiers had to quickly slip out of their coats and run for it, because the Jewish shtekken were raining blows on their heads. The soldiers didn't make any accusations/file any complaints because they would have punished for making a riot in the town. But they never forgot this night of Simchas Torah and after it, they were more "אנשטענדיק" "decent"/"respectful".
Children's אבערגלויבן Superstitions (p. 26)
A shaygetz drowned in Lake Zadzsever, which was located just beyond the Jewish cemetery. Two days passed, and his body was not found. It was the talk of the town, and many people went to the lake to look at the search for the body.
The pupils of Yoel the Melamed [teacher] of the heder also took great interest in this event. Motkeh, the oldest pupil in the heder האט פארגעשלאגען decided/thought/suggested that the pupils go to the lake after their lessons. All of the pupils immediately set out. They had to go past the Jewish cemetery. When they reached the cemetery, Motkeh ordered them to stop and told them that only those children who knew "Shema Yisrael" and "Ve-ahavtah" by heart could go further, because in the daytime the dead came out of their graves and played on various instruments and observed the passers-by to make sure that they said the "Shema Yisrael" and the "Ve-ahavtah" – and if they didn't do so . . .
Even before Motkeh had finished speaking, all of the children, who were badly frightened and confused, began to run into the town, feeling all the time that the dead were running after them. Some of these children, among them the writer of these lines, were so upset psychologically that they dreamt about the dead and had hallucinations and various other symptoms for a long time. Doctors and "exorcists" had a bit more business, and the parents had a lot of aggravation.
The Children's Revolution and Its Failure (pp. 28–29)
The revolutionary atmosphere in Russia in the beginning of the twentieth century captured the children of Postov. Big Yoshkeh, a lad of fourteen years, organized a group of boys, the children of בעלי מלאכה simple craftsmen and artisans, with the intention of פארגלייכן comparing with the rich kids in the town. They decided that they were also entitled to be able to buy candy, ice-cream and flavored soda. In order to do this, האבן זיי ארויפגעלייגט א וועכנטלעכן שטייערthey laid a tax on the rich kids. They warned them that מען וועט געבן קלעפ they would be beaten if they didn't come forth with the פאדערונג demand, and also if they said anything about this to their parents. The secret, however, lasted only a short time. It was unintentionally revealed.
One day, on a summer Shabbas afternoon, Yisrael Raichel and his friends from the "חדר מתוקן""Perfect Heder" were strolling in the Zamarik, when זיי האבן זיך אנגעשטויסן ? they were insulted by/got angry with/were offended by a group of youngsters who were playing cards. When they saw among the players a pupil from the "חדר מתוקן" "Perfect Heder" they decided to get him away from the game, for it is not honorable to play cards in the woods. Before they could decide what to do, Big Yoshkeh and his two adjutants came along and grabbed their money from two of the players, saying that it was overdue to them, for two weeks, and threatened that if they again failed to make payment exactly on time, they would beat them up.
Yisrael Raichel was the son of Avraham Yitzchak the brick-maker, and among the children he was considered a shtarkn, a strong one, besides which he could always depend on the support of his three older cousins, the Shwartz brothers. Yisrael האט באפוילן that they explain what they were demanding payment for. Yoshkeh האט באפוילן to shut up if they wanted to stay alive. Yisrael gave the card-players א דריי פאר די אוירן a few twists of the ears, and to Yoshkeh a גוטן זעץ hefty punch, and they began to discuss. They finally reached the באפעל decision that there would no longer be any demand for, nor any payment of, any money.
Yoshkeh, however, האט זיך ניט אונטערגעגבן did not give up. With the help of some hired *שקצים shkotzim he organized two attacks : one in Vilner Street ביים near the Advocate Shapira's house, and the second on the children of the "חדר מתוקן""Perfect Heder", as they were leaving the schoolhouse. The latter, however, were prepared and broke but good the bones of the young "revolutionaries" and their shkotzim abettors, who were thus persuaded that Jews can give good blows. They all deserted Yoshkeh.
And the revolution was a total failure.
*-- שקצים comes from the Hebrew שקצ , meaning an abomination, an unclean creature; in colloquial usage, shaygets is an unruly youngster, a Gentile youngster -- or, by extension, like one. ] And, of course, Yiddish contains many other Hebrew terms and words. ]
Sin and Retribution (p. 29)
Aharon Pergament was the richest man in the town. He was a big lumber merchant and also had, in Postov, a beer brewery and a saw-mill.
Once, when he was in the brewery early in the morning, he didn't like the way one of the workers was working. He came over to the worker and landed him such a slap in the face that the worker fell over.
In the evening, he was in the sawmill, and he didn't like the way a worker was putting a board in זעג the machine saw, in order to cut it ברעטער narrower. Wanting to show how this should be done, and apparently agitated and not sufficiently cautious, instead of sawing the board, he אפגעזעגטsawed off/cut his hand — the same hand with which he had slapped the worker in the morning.
Pergament was a stubborn man, but he was a religious Jew and a philanthropist. He felt that he האט פארלוירן had lost his hand as punishment for slapping the worker. When he returned from the hospital in Vilna, he went to the worker and asked his forgiveness, and also left him a large sum of money.
A Crazy Dog Attacks the Community's Leaders (פרנסים) (p. 30)
This event took place in January 1912. The leaders of the community were gathered for the monthly meeting of the community council. There were many matters to be dealt with and the meeting dragged out till late at night. As they were going home, a mad dog greeted them [מקבל פנים געווען] with great ferocity. He sprang at them and tried to bite their faces. Because of the terrible freezing cold, their faces were covered with the large furs coats that they were wearing, and the dog wasn't able to reach their faces. Nevertheless, the doge was able to bite two men, Leib Pergament and the iron shopkeeper Lubotsky.
Early the next morning, Leib Pergament traveled to Vilna where he was treated/examined by important doctors. Lubotsky had only received a small bite and had ignored it. Later, when it was discovered that he פארגיפטעט was poisoned/got blood-poisoning, it was too late to cure him and he died.
On that same night the dog had אנגעגריפן attacked? tried to attack? the night-watchman of the Jewish street, Herr Peretz. Peretz, however, attacked the mad dog, beating it with his big spade and the dog, yelping loudly, ran away.
News about the mad dog quickly spread throughout the entire town and all of the inhabitants stayed in their houses until the police and other men, who hadיאכט ביקסן hunting rifles, found the mad dog and shot him.
Sports in Postov (p. 31)
There were no organized sports in Postov until after the end of the First World War. In the summer, people went to swim, and there were good swimmer. In the winter, people ice-skated. The Miadlekeh River had an outlet/outflow/overflow near Vilner Street, and there, after the first snows, people constructed walls of snow all around. Skating within these walls was very pleasant even on the coldest days of the winter. Before the snows came, people skated on the Blind River, which froze over before the other bodies of water, because its waters were very still.
Although these were the only sports available, one cannot say that the young folk of Postov weren't interested in sports. All of the sports activities of the officers in the summer months, which I described above, were enthusiastically attended by the town's residents.* In their games, the children of the town imitated the officers and soldiers, and the war games that they played were very popular.
In later years, after the First World War ended and peace on the border between Poland and Russia was effected, the young people began to take up various different sports activities.
*My mother used to tell me about these games and how they liked to go to see them.
Beaten for Striking His Wife (pp. 31–32)
It was an accepted fact that a Jew doesn't beat his wife. But there are exceptions. And there was such an exception in Postov. There was a middle-aged Jew who would often beat his wife. It isn't important to know the name of this man, for it will add nothing at all to this sorrowful episode.
Neighbors used to tell about the wife's terrible screaming and crying, day and night, that was heard from this Jew's house. The whole town knew what was going on there, and people deliberated about what to do to help the woman.
After long consultations, some of the young adults decided to do something in order to stop the man's brutal handling of his wife. A delegation of two Jews came to Jew in his house and had an innocent and "cozy" talk [שמועס – from which we get shmooze] with him about the attitudes of Yiddisheh men according to age-old Jewish traditions. The Jew agreed with what he heard of this morality lecture, but he didn't want to make any promise that he would stop beating his wife. Before the delegation left the man's house, they told him that they would deal very harshly with him. They gave him a week's time to decide how צו האנדלען to behave in this matter.
Two weeks passed and there was no change. The strong young fellows decided to carry out what they had said they would do. On Shabbes, between Mincha and Ma'ariv, when the town's rabbi was studying Mishna with the Jews in the shul, these fellows האבן "אריינגענארט tricked the "wife-beater" into the shtibl [small prayer room], stretched him out on a long table, and began to beat the tender parts of his body with a leather strap. The Yid, however, was also a strong fellow, and he freed himself, jumped down from the table and out through an open window into the street.
A few weeks later they again grabbed him, got him into the shul and spread out on a table, and pulled down his trousers. Four fellows held him down on the table, and two "shmeisers" [שמייסער – thrashers] with specially prepared קאנטשיקעס]] disciplinary whips, one on either side of the table, delivered twenty-five lashes. Before they let him go, they told him that he would get fifty if he didn't begin to behave in a menshlecheh [decent, humane] and Yiddisheh way to his wife.
The twenty-five lashes helped, but it was perhaps the fear of the promised fifty lashes that worked to ensure that he stop beating his wife.
Hanna Leakeh Marries (?פארפירט) a Shaygitz (pp. 34–35)
When one is fated to have troubles they can come even from one's own daughter. Hanna Leah, who was the daughter of a שטעטלדיקן יידן shtetl Jew (whose name it not important here) was a beautiful maiden. Young fellows wanted to be counted among her friends or to go strolling with her.
Hanna Leah, or Hanna Leahkeh as she was later called, fell in love with a shaygetz and was always פארבראכט ?chatting with him. Her parents, who were greatly disturbed by this, prevailed upon their daughter to give the shaygetz up, but to no avail. The parents became very embittered and decided to confine her to the house. Because of her hot love [yesÉהיסע ליבע] for him, Hanna Leah found ways to get out of the house and to go פארבריינגען with her shaygetz. She would jump out of a window, or exploit the moment when her mother went out to buy something in a shop. Finally, they decided to give their daughter a beating each time, when she returned home. Once, when the father gave her a good beating with a stick, Leahkeh retaliated with a slap in his face and ran out of the house. A long time passed, and no one heard from her.
Some men were אנגעשטעלט hired to go and find out from the shaygetz where Hanna Leahkeh could be found. The shaygetz became אויסגעמיטן tired of/fed up with talking about her. Finally, he was angry, because they didn't let her live her own life and he decal
A few months later it became known that Hanna-Leahkeh was employed in the "oldest profession" in the world; she had become a street-walker.
Leib the Wagon-Driver (p. 36)
Actually, he wasn't a proper wagon-driver. He wasn't employed with taking passengers to and from the train, or from one town to another.
Leib had an old horse and he used to deliver sacks of flour from the grain store to the houses in the shtetl. He had barely enough of a livelihood (parnosseh) from this to provide for his large family. Not only that, but his horses would very oftenאויסציען זיך stretch out between the shafts of the wagon and not get up again. In the town they said that his horses were dying because he didn't give them enough to eat, and it is highly likely that there was more than a grain of truth in this. He didn't earn enough to keep his own family, so how could he afford to buy enough oats and hay for his horses?
But Leib never went for a long time without a horse. The Jews in the shul would collect enough money to buy another old or half-blind horse for him. In the town they joked that his last horse was גאר א "גוטער" a real ""good one". It took only half an hour for the horse to carry a sack of meal from the knoll to the bridge over the Miadlekeh River, a distance of about a quarter of a vierst, and maybe even less.
Leib was a quiet one, and an honest man, and all of the Jews in the shtetl liked him. Without him they would not be able to obtain, on time, the flour for baking their bread on the weekdays and their hallas for Shabbos.
Yiddishe Children Dance around a יאלקע and the Yiddishe Kehilla Storms (pp. 37–38)
Reb Shimshon the Gemarra Teacher (pp. 39–40)
The Effect of בייליס פראצעס ____ Process/Litigation )pp. 41)
Employment באשעפטיקונגען Among Jews in Postov (p. 42)
Institutions, Societies, Schools and Heders Prior to the First World Wa
Wedding in the Shtetl (pp. 47–49)
The Fatal Gunshot in Sarajevo (pp. 50–52)
How Postov האט אויפגענומען Reacted to/Went through the War (pp. 53–54)
Pogroms on the Jews and Defeats on the Fronts (pp. 55–56)
Expulsions and Russian Barbarity (pp. 57–58)
Half of the Town Desecrates the Shavuos Yom-Tov (pp. 59–60)
The Germans March In (61–62)
The Cossack Ambush (pp. 63–64)
Postov is Again Taken by the Russians (p. 65–66)
Postov Jews Become Refugees (pp. 67–68)
I Return to Postov (pp. 69–74)
The Refugees Re-Become Home-Owners/Repossess their Homes (pp. 75–76)
Economic, Cultural and Social Reconstruction (pp. 77–80)
The Drama Craze of Drama (p. 81)
The Town's Halutzim (Zionist Pioneers) Become Firemen (pp. 82–83)
A Waggonner's Prophecy (pp. 84–85)
War Again and Postov Goes Hungry (pp. 86–87)
The פאראייניקטע שטאטן League of Nations Breaks the Famine (pp. 88–89)
Courage and Self-Sacrifice Triumph over/Overcome Might (pp. 90–92)
Postov Is Occupied by the Bolsheviks (pp. 93–96)
I Am Silent in the Presence of the Commissar for the Promotion of Culture in Postov and the Surrounding Area (pp. 97–102)
Postov Becomes a Border Town (pp. 103–104)
The Town is Again Occupied by Poland (pp. 105–107)
How I Saw in Postov in 1930 (106–107)
How People Could געמאנט שטייערן in Postov and in all of Poland (108–110)
The Murder of a Jew and Polish Justice (pp. 111–113)
The Second World War and Its Sorrowful Results (pp. 114–115)
Postov is Occupied by the Soviet Union (pp. 116–118)
The Germans Occupy Postov – The Ghetto and Mass Killings (pp. 119–124)
Postov Partisans Tell Their Stories: (125–126)
Shimon Shapira, pp. 127–138
Reunen Vant, pp. 139–149
Mully Zasslavsky, pp. 150–159
Zalman Rachman, pp. 160–186
Fania Tseplovitch, pp. 187–191
Ya'akov Feigl, pp. 192–204
A List of Those (~25 names) Who Remained Alive from the Postov Ghetto, p. 205
A (very long) List of the Postov Jews Who Were Killed, pp. 206–215
(It is difficult to count these as often it is only "So-and-so and family",
or "So-and-so, his wife and 4 children";
The Reichels/Raichels in the list are many; they are listed on the bottom of page 213 and top half of 214. There are no Polsteins in this list (Bubba Chava was a Polstein); My mother's maiden name was Lifshin. Her brother Aharon, his wife Rassia and their 3 children and my mother's mother Rachel Rivka Lifshin are listed at the bottom of p. 209.
Hodosh names are bottom p. 208, top p. 209.
Many Tzeplovitches on p. 212-213.