A Memory from Childhood

Jewish history happens and we must not forget under how much hardship and oppression Jews live. Despite this, their way is with God in their deepest hearts, and at all times in their lives there is a link with His name.

Now I am going to tell you a story which I witnessed with my own eyes when I was 7 years old, that is sixty-nine years ago. I was born on the old Polish-Russian border in the town of Volochisk. On the Polish side lay the town Podvolochisk. When the border was closed in 1917, many families were separated from each other. On a warm summer-day a chupah was erected on the very border. It turned out that the groom’s parents lived on the other side of the border in Podvolochisk, which belonged to Poland.

We small children were fascinated by how lively people  danced, how our famous fiddler fiddled and the other klezmorim played. Tables were laid out on both sides of the border, the “badkhen” (wedding-entertainer) sung  the bride to her seat, the women wailed loudly. But we children were interested in a different question: how to make friends with the children from the other side of the border. Then someone thought up a plan. We found little pebbles, brought string from home and started furtively to steal pieces of honey-cake and fruit-cake from the table. We wrapped the honey-cake and fruit-cake in a little parcel, tied a pebble to it and chucked it over the river, which was called the Zbruch. The children from the other side started to throw over their gifts in the same little parcels.

A soldier, a  watchman, was standing by guarding the border. The wedding took place near the holy synagogue, which still existed in the early years of the Soviet regime. The grown-ups told us how hard it had been to get permission to make the wedding on the border, in order that all the relatives and good friends could be invited.

Sixty-nine years have passed, but I remember so well this wedding, the green grass, how the guests danced, how the tables were set with all kinds of kosher delicacies, the wonderful gefilte fish. This is no dream. This happened. I am a living witness. Read my story, and tell your children.

This was written by Yeve Lozdernik, born in Volochisk by the river Zbruch in 1928 and given to Jeremy Grant. “On November 27th I shall be 78 years old. My father Itsik Lozdernik was a tailor and was very friendly with your great-grandfather Shmilik Kalik, also a tailor. They used both to pray together in the same beys-medrash. Forgive me for writing with the Soviet spelling system. That is how I was taught. Afterwards Yiddish was forbidden, and I have not read or written for over forty years. Be well and happy! We wish you a happy new year with health and creative success, to 120! Love to your family. Write and ask. I shall answer all your questions: Volochisk stands alive before my eyes until my dying day. “

Yeve Lozdernik (in Yiddish Yokheved) translated by Jeremy Grant, October 2000
20th September 2000.



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This page is authored and maintained by Renee Gottesman and Helen May.

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Copyright by Helen May & Renee Gottesman 1998

Last updated July 1, 2012

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