Compilation of Memories (Memoirs)
Part 40

Yaramtchi – The Legend of “Dovbush”

The fifth station on this track was Yaramtchi, a large village that stood on a hill surrounded by high mountains filled with pine trees which gave off a lovely smell. In the center of the village on both sides of the road that went from Dalatin-Karashmachi, were big buildings and villas with flower gardens on all sides and many rooms. In the center of town, there were stores in every house. Big city merchants from Lvov, Stanislau, Kolomyea and others came and set up their businesses before the summer season in homes that they had used previously. Well known restaurateurs came and rented entire buildings to be used as a hotel, אשל, food, drink and sleep.

There were fifty permanent Jewish families in town, some of whom did business with the non-Jews while others received visitors as guests in their homes.

(Pages 210/211)

Among the inhabitants was R’Michael Schwarz זל, an honorable man, knowledgeable in books from a reputable family from Scala. He came to the village and rented an Inn at the time that the railroad was being built from Stanislau-Karashmachi. When he died, his wife ran the Inn until the lease ended with the Austrian government. His wife Miriam, daughter of R’Yehoshua Dreimer of Scala, famous in wealth and connections, opened a store in addition to the Inn and made a living for her two daughters and three sons. R’Fishel Schwarz, one of my oldest friends in Stanislau, was her son. The youngest son, Shlomo, will be well remembered for building a large, splendid Beit Knesset in the town. People prayed all year round and Jews who visited in the summer also prayed there. Other owners of homes were R’Shlomo Schneider and Issachar Lappe who were actives in the Beit Knesset. Jews and non-Jews from near and far came to spend their summers in Yaramtchi.

A high steel bridge was constructed for the railroad which crossed the Prut River that came out of the mountains and passed the town. The train went from the bridge through a tunnel that was about ten kilometers long under a mountain that was 100 meters high. There was also a wooden bridge that crossed the river to the road in the direction of Karashmachi. On the next high mountain near the tunnel, there is a waterfall of the Prut River that flows through Bukovina and Romania and joins the Danube River.

My son Aaron and his family זל came to Yaramtchi every year and rented a special room inviting me for a vacation in this room. I came there several times even after I was a citizen of Eretz Israel. I met good friends and it was a great pleasure to spend time with the family and enjoy the clean air that invigorates the spirit and body. I was there with my son Aaron’s family even in the summer of 1939 before the war. I was also honored to lay Tfillin for the Bar Mitzvah of Aaron’s older son Menachim. That same summer, Mr. Tzvi Fogel זל and his sons זל came to Yaramtchi. He was an educated and bright man, the brother of my daughter-in-law Naomi זל. On the morning after the governments declared war on August 28, 1939, everyone including myself ran to the train station in order to get home. The train cars were packed and I had to stand until we got to Stanislau. Where are all the loved ones with no one to fill the emptiness? תנצבה

In the matter of religion, the village was under the authority of Rabbi R’Naftali Ehrlich. He came every year to spend Shabbat and was received with honor by R’Issachar Lappe who was accompanied by his son-in-law R’Moshe Aaron Docks זל, an honest man. All the Chasidim enjoyed the sermons of the Rabbi and the full tables set for Shabbat. R’Naftali left this village satisfied and with full pockets.

Yaramtchi was the central, important point of all the villages of Nadvorna-Varachta. It had many forests on the high hills, gardens, places to walk and rest under trees, restaurants and high quality drinking places. There were stores that sold everything: toys for children (made by people who lived in the mountains), coffee houses that had various games, musicians who played in the area, etc. The interesting places to see were the wonderful steel bridge over the Prut River, the tunnel, the Prut water falls that came from the village of Koltshin, the memorial on the grave of the “Murderer Dovbush”, etc.

Many visitors spent the days of the summer and even days of winter in Yaramtchi. Summers were spent by rich people from Kolomyea, Stanislau, Lvov, etc who rented plots and set up large houses for their families and also rented rooms.

(Page 211)

Most of those who came were cultured Jews and Poles. Those who lived among them owned stores, restaurants and summer camps in the mountains for students that attended universities from Lvov, Stanislau and Krakov. The Polish Legion had a camp and in the days of the Polish dynasty the young boys would play on the windows of the Jewish villas and bother the old men who passed them.

To explain about the grave of Dovbush that is found on the hill of the tunnel, there is a big stone at the entrance of the tunnel, engraved in Ukrainian that tells of his activities and the day of his death. He was born in one of the mountains. He robbed and murdered rich Poles. He once met the “Baal Shem Tov” זצל (Besht) on one of the hills and requested that he be blessed. The “Besht” זצל agreed to bless him on the condition that he not harm a Jewish soul. The condition was fulfilled but when he met a rich Jew he held him for ransom. The Ukrainian nobles praised his good deeds and that he gave part of his spoils to the poor. He was thought of as a national hero and they prayed at his grave. Dovbush lived at the end of the 1600s and was killed in 1750.

(Note* We found this information on a Google site. The second part of the book consists of three essays. The opening essay is devoted to Oleksa Dovbush (Dobush), an 18th-century Ukrainian national hero (1700-1745), a leader of opryshki – an anti-feudal and anti-Polish movement, and a Ukrainian Robin Hood. Following Dov Noy’s discovery of his image in Jewish Hasidic legends about the founder of the movement, the Ba’al Shem Tov (Ha-Besht), the author presents newly found Jewish sources on Dovbush as well as a Ukrainian version of his meeting with the Baal Shem Tov and a Ukrainian legend of a Jewish girl’s affection for the dying hero. Of special importance is an original poetic translation from Hebrew of Shimshon Meltzer’s ballad “Dovbush and Baal Shem Tov”. The Jews considered Dovbush (Dobush) a repentant robber, while for the Ukrainians he is first of all an epic hero. Jewish folklore and fiction present an alternative biography of Dovbush, different from the versions known in Ukrainian culture. According to elements found in various sources, Dovbush was born to a widow, fed by the dog, and named by a Jew (the name Dovbush derives in this version from dov – (Hebrew for bear: the baby, being hairy, brought this animal to mind). In his maturity he was impressed by a Jewish saint (the Ba’al Shem Tov or Rabbi Arye), repented, and died in solitude. In still another version Dovbush perished because did not believe the saintly man’s warning. The migration of the Dovbush tradition to Jewish culture goes hand in hand with its adaptation to the new norms and the censorship of the elements that cannot be accepted by the new audience. RDK)

Content last updated Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 08:16 PM Mountain Daylight Time

Zabolotiv, Ukraine

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Updated March 2013
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