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This site is created as a way to further research and publication of materials on the history of Lyakhovichi.If you have been aided in your research and wish to contribute materials and resources to further our knowledge, contact Gary Palgon and ask how you can help.

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Memoirs of Jewish Lyakhovichi and its surrounding communities

This section including histories of the Lyakhovichi Jewish community written as memoirs, reminisces, and local history, is part of our Biography section. Click on the "Biography" button in the left-hand column to read other articles in this section.

A Walk through My Devastated Shtetl
by Avrom Lev, 1952
translated from Yiddish by Dr. Neville Lamdan, copyright 2007

To Go to Other Pages of this Reminisce click:

My Devastated Shtetl, Part One
My Devastated Shtetl, Part Two
My Devastated Shtetl, Part Three
My Devastated Shtetl, Part Four
My Devastated Shtetl, Part Five You are Here
Surname, Nickname, and Residents by Locale Index

The Ring of Nishe Muzykant
Thanks to Sharon Racusin for this wonderful photo of the family heirloom passed down through her grandfather Sam "Shliome" Musicant. (Click on image to see close-up)

And there is the home of our Lechovicher “Paganini”. I mean Reb Nishe der Klezmer, with his son Shli'ome, the flutist. Who of us didn't know that serene and modest Reb Nishe with his fiddle who, together with his band, wrought wonders at weddings? He was already an elderly Jew, always cleanly dressed, with a silvery head of hair, cut short from behind and arranged “a la garcon”, with a large, broad golden ring on his finger. It was said that he had acquired the ring from a famous duke for his exceptional playing.

My Devastated Shtetl, part 5

Part Five

Actually, my dears, we could already return [directly] to town by not completing (the whole of) Kletsk Street, which is occupied by our bourgeois (non-Jewish) neighbours who probably took no small part in the annihilation of our brothers [during WW II]. However, it is worth our proceeding further because from there we will be able to cast an eye at the large estate, (called the) “Rushike”, which belonged to Polish noblemen [and land-owners] the Reytans. For (many) long years, they maintained a very close connection with our shtetl and provided no small livelihood for our townsfolk, starting with Feigel-Bashe's [a store-owner – see immediately below]. They bound their estate to our town. For example, the story goes that Count Reytan suggested re-building the old “Cold Synagogue” after the [Great] Fire at his own expense, making only one condition: that his name should be inscribed on a special emblem beside the entrance. The shtetl, however, did not go along with this and so the foundation (of the synagogue) remains (bare) stone until the present day.

The refined Countess Reytan was distinguished by a particularly respectable attitude (to Jews). She used to visit the shtetl very often with her companions, always stopping off with great fanfare at Feigel-Bashe's “colonial” store. They used to arrive in fine carriages and sleighs, drawn by several horses and driven by Iozef the coachman, dressed up in a uniform with golden buttons. Once in a while the noble ladies would arrive riding horses, like Amazons. Who doesn't still speak of the occasion when Countess Reytan once arrived unexpectedly in her own automobile (at that time, the first automobile in the whole Minsk Gubernya). This really caused a total commotion in the region and people stampeded to have a look at it, as if they were looking at an amazing wonder. Everyone – that is, except for our poor cart-drivers whose horses were held in a single pen [?], for they alone, as opposed to everyone else, were apprehensive of the automobile. They saw in it an evil omen, (proclaiming) the doom of their livelihood. They were relieved soon afterwards when the automobile got horribly stuck in a mud-patch and was unable to budge from there. The desperate Countess with her chauffeur, poor things, were obliged to seek the help of the cart-drivers, (requesting that) their horses should pull the august automobile out of the mud-patch together. Oh, then our cart-drivers experienced sweet revenge!

At the beginning of the last World War, the noble Countess Reytan was exiled by the Bolsheviks [sic = Red Army?] to Siberia, where she surrendered up her soul together with many of the Jews from our shtetl … a kind of symbol of true neighbourliness.

* * *

Now, having fulfilled the verse “And also its ruin will be remembered for good”, we can cut through the garbage behind Kletsk Street and come out at the beginning of Pinsk Street, to the left of which stretch, far and wide, gardens and fields up to the Kaminker Forest and the railway station at Rushnevich. Not far from there are two little paths – one to the left, to the windmills, where cheder kids, as if in a very safe hide-away, used to play cards undisturbed and where there was a meeting-place for young couples in the evenings. The other little path, to the right, leads to the “market place” [literally “bourse”, in Russian = an “ideological exchange”?] of the local revolutionary youth, where there is hustle and bustle every evening and especially on Friday nights. The debates between the parties were always heated – not infrequently it happened that the last (means of) persuasion in arguments was a punch-up and murderous blows!

In the part of Pinsk Street which led to the Market is located the “Golden Flag” [the “flagship”] of our shtetl, so to speak. On one side is the big pelt merchant and devout chossid, Reb Leibe Lios with his intelligent family, and on the other is Avrom Yaakov Kaplan's son, Yehoshu'o, with his wife Feigele, or as she is called “Feigele Avrom Yaakov's”. Our way of life is not at all suitable for her. In her home she was taught Russian and also she has set up her house on city lines. But with that, she was distinguished by her simplicity and has shown a strong inclination towards community organizations. She has founded various social institutions in our shtetl, starting with “The Women's Association for Poor Birthing Mothers” [the association's name was in Hebrew] and ending with a communal matzo bakery which functioned before Pesach for the poor population. For the work in the bakery, she enlisted the local youth who worked night and day so that the matzo [unleavened bread] could be made for the poor to be able to celebrate the Seder [the Passover meal] equally with everyone.

Here let's go a bit up and we come to the well-kept house of Reb Avrom Chayim Weinger or “Der Nayer Noggid”, where for years our town post-office used to be. By the way, an unusual thing happened to that Jew, who is still living with us, with his daughter and family in Tel Aviv (he should live “for 120 years!”). This is the story: While in America it was his good fortune that a very large dwelling fell his way. He brought the capital which he realized back to the shtetl and, you'll understand, immediately assumed a very prominent place among the really affluent. He founded a credit bank, bought up shops and erected two fine houses in Pinsk Street and promptly took a seat in the “Mizrach” wall [see earlier note] in the local big congregation's synagogue, thus coming by the name of “Der Nayer Noggid” [the newly rich man]. . . . How goes the old proverb? “Dowry-money, inherited money and lottery money have no substance – they go as swiftly as they come”. So too our newly “rich man”, unfortunately, became a poor man. In his case, by the way, his good friends and acquaintances “helped” him, just letting him keep his new name “Der Nayer Noggid”.

Here we are by the house of Reb Zalman Valkin, a son-in-law of the wealthiest man in town, Reb Avrom Yaakov Kaplan, who works together with his father-in-law and brothers-in-law, sons and sons-in-law of Reb Avrom Yaakov, in his large lumber businesses. Reb Zalman is learned and even has ordination for the rabbinate.

Opposite, no such big gevirim [affluent and prominent men] live but (one finds) Jews with honest souls, like Reb Yidel der Melamed and Reb Noah-Leib Busel, with their families.

At the very end of the street, opposite N'yome Zayetz, are to be found Chotshe der Roife [the doctor], a certified medical assistant who is far more educated than his competitor, Reb Avrom-Yaakov der Roife who is a complete illiterate (which should not be considered any disgrace). Materially speaking, things go a lot worse for Chotshe than for Avrom-Yaakov. It's a matter of luck!

After Pinsk Street we take a left and enter a “street that ain't no street”, which we should take note of because of the important Jews that once lived here. But, first of all, whoever wishes should take a look to the right, where precious hard-working Jews lived - among them a gentle Jew, Reb Leibe-Motte-Sanke's, a ladies' tailor. The first professional strike in Lechovich occurred at his (work-shop) among his female workers who demanded a reduction in the working-day from twelve hours to ten hours. In truth, it was a slightly odd strike because the proprietor himself, Reb Leibe, with his daughters, worked no less than his female workers, while he remained a very poor man in the process. Hence he would not, and could not, grant their demand – and paid (for that) with his life. Among the strike-leaders were some nasty types who struck Reb Leibe over the head with an iron bar – [which put] an end to the strike for everyone.

Exactly opposite, by Mich'l Aron der Beker [the Baker], lives one of our two town dentists, Yitzchok-Gedalyo Goldberg, in a stone house. The greatest “supporter” of our town, he is the founder of many organizations and institutions, such as the Fire-Fighters Association, the Art Society, the Committee for the Development of the Shtetl and so on. Besides all that, our Yitzchok-Gedalyo is always ready to help other people in trouble, treating them as his own brother, friend and companion.

Among the outstanding Jews on the “street that ain't no street”, as I have called it above, lived Reb Moshe Mordechai “der Dardeke-Melamed” [the little children's cheder teacher], a quiet, upstanding man and a “Dreamer of Zion”. Although he was a poor man, he was the first subscriber to “Ha-tzefiroh” [a Hebrew newspaper published in Warsaw intermittently from 1862 onwards]. His greatest dream was at least to die in Eretz Yisroel. Unfortunately this was not granted him. He relinquished his soul in “dark exile” [an allusion to the Shoah]. Not far from Reb Moshe Mordechai live Reb Shaiye Chossid and, a couple of paces on, Reb Yankel “der Shoichet” [ritual slaughterer] and then, opposite, the talmed chochem Reb Meir Leibke's, the cheder teacher, about whom our dear Dr. A. Mokdoni and Dr. A. Grinspan have so much to tell.

Opposite, pushed back far in the yard, lives the great Koidanover chossid, Reb David Shloime, son of Shaike der Dayen [religious judge]. From his house, on summer Friday evenings, through the open windows, waft the holy Friday evening hymns and heartfelt chassidic melodies which really have a magical effect on the whole surrounding area and fill the air with the mood of the “neshome yesayre” [the mythical “extra soul” which descends upon a Jew on the Sabbath].

Here extend courtyard after courtyard, built up with small, low houses and huts, almost one on top of the other. Here poverty nestles (all around) … And there is the abode of our well-known Reb Avrom-Yankel der Roife whom we have already mentioned in connection with his professional colleague, Chotshe. Who among us in the shtetl has not made the acquaintance of that great “physician” who acquired his entire medical knowledge during the time that he served as a male nurse with a doctor in a governmental town [administrative centre, such as Slutsk or even Minsk]. After that, he settled in Lechovich and began his self-appointed medical career. He was graced with two qualities (enabling him) to have great success. First, his very manner. Whatever else people may have said about him, his appearance would have fitted the greatest professor – his fur hat and large, beautiful fur coat with its floppy cape on top, and the high galoshes on his feet, gained him the highest respect, (even) among his biggest enemies. The second quality was his extraordinary confidence in himself, to the point of chutzpe [brazen effrontery].

For a dozen years, he remained the only medical assistant in town and who knows how much that cost in poor folks' lives? If a (real) doctor were once to have tried to arrive, Avrom-Yankel would have expelled him right away. Either he would cast abuse on his would-be competitor or he would let loose his dumb son, Alter the barber, on him – and that one was prepared to slaughter a man in the middle of the market with his sharp razor-blade! Avrom-Yankel used to make up his prescriptions himself with the help of Miller, the Polish pharmacist. If his herbs worked, that was fine, but in the event, God forbid, that they did not, people weren't allowed to say a word, because when Avrom-Yankel opened his mouth on someone, “it could not be washed clean with ten (flushes of) water”.

God knows how long things would have continued in this way, if a miracle had not been pre-ordained and a Christian doctor arrived in town. He soon obliged our Reb Avrom-Yankel to give up and limit his practice only to the ailing among the poor. Next, in the Rogov's house, is the barber-shop of Chatzkel, [Rogov's] son. A sign hangs outside, written, you see, in Russian of all things: “Saloon for hair-cutting and shaving” and on the sign is depicted an appropriate “picture”, painted by our Lechovich artist, Moishe Snob'l, where a man is sitting opposite a mirror, covered with a sheet, and near him stands the barber, while both of them are staring straight at the people in the street … Oy vey, how hard-heartedly were we, the cheder kids, treated by that “rogue” Chatzkele, especially on Erev Shabbes and Erev Yomtef , when he would make sure that we could not go out to get a haircut by his competitor, Yosel, son of Chotshe der Roife. He would (simply) run his clippers over our heads, from the back of neck to the forehead, thus leaving a carved-out streak so that now one could only sit and wait endlessly, with our “scarred skulls”, until the blackguard took pity and got to work on us!

The Mislevozh Street starts here. At the beginning, on the left, is the “Papayshchine” [grove of trees?] which belonged to an old Tatar woman [there was a Tatar community in Lechovich], who gave permission so that Jews should be able to come and relax on Shabbes after their cholent [a particularly heavy Sabbath dish] and take a little fresh air under the few trees. In the eyes of the town's Jews, that row of a few trees seemed like a real Garden of Eden. Here, at the “Papayshchine”, at the very beginning of the street, live the “Burakes”, a large, ramified and hard-working family who engaged in planting different vegetables on large tracts near the town (whence they take their nickname “Burakes” [“beetroot”, in Russian]). In the wintertime, they bred whole flocks of geese for selling and producing shmaltz [rendered fat]. They prepared it in large troughs for sale in bulk around Pesach time.

When we go off a little to the right, where one catches up with Mislevozh Street, we observe a stone building which has a great deal to tell us. At the beginning, it was erected to serve as a place for the fire brigade's equipment. However, it was destined to fulfill a completely different function in our shtetl's cultural life. Not everyone knows about that, so it's worth our while to pause and briefly relate the whole thing. If until the last moments [in World War II] there was an interest in our town in dramatics, it was thanks to that building where, close to forty years ago [around 1912?] the foundation was laid for an amateur company drawn from the intellectual [literally, “intelligent”] youth in Lechovich.

“Lechovich Young People's Circle of Theatre Lovers” captioned with names of R. Kurchin, Chana Zlotnik, N'yome Begun, Faye Churgin, A. Lev [the author of this chapter], Shloimke Rozovsky, Boruch Tzirlis, Tzimmering, Y. G. Goldberg, Malka Berkovich, Brin “the Artist” [director], Masha Geldfarb, Y. Falevsky, Chayim Grinspan, Noah Pintshuk.

It came about as follows: after the unfortunate Revolution of 1905, young people everywhere were overcome by apathy. A large part of the youth who lost heart left Russia and emigrated to “free” America. Others, the more passive among the young people, went off in the direction of mildly scandalous recreations and started here and there the so-called movement of the “Leagues for Free Love”. More modest young people took to showing an interest in the art of the theatre and founded amateur companies to perform plays.

Our shtetl was almost always the first in the whole region to take up anykinds of new diversion. And indeed it was the first to form a circle for young theatre lovers. Then, really as if from heaven, a professional actor happened upon us (by the name of) Brin who, it seems, had dropped out of some traveling company. Our young people took to the “divine” work (of the theatre) with gusto under the direction of our unexpected guest. He assembled the “talents” among us and he soon went to work – starting by studying with us in depth Sholem Aleichem's (play) “Scattered Widely” which was, by the way, very appropriate for those times. Our director anguished a bit over the fact that he did not have the right comic actor for the role of the marriage broker. He was, however, quickly saved because I, your humble servant, having suddenly pitched up in town from an absence in Pinsk, was straightaway “engaged” by the “company” and took up the role in question.

The shtetl was really in turmoil. We ran into obstacles from the side of both the orthodox population and the authorities which required the issue of a permit for putting on a theatre presentation. To obtain the necessary permit we were saved by our dear (friend) Yitzchok-Gedalyo [Goldberg]. He began to work energetically on the matter as the founder of the local Firefighters Association. After a lot of effort, the censor from the Gubernya authorities finally arrived, (bearing) a stamped [certified] copy of the play “Scattered Widely”, together with the permit to produce a play in Yiddish, made out in favour of the Firefighters Association. Nu, what can you do! So be it – the main thing was that the show would go on.

We then set about putting the “auditorium” in order, with the stage, the proper decorations (etc.). Nor was the preparation of a booth for the prompter forgotten. The windows were even fixed up so that smart-alecks couldn't set up ladders and peek inside. Ay, what will be with the furnishings and the wardrobes? After all, with Jews one couldn't go wrong - one borrows here and there and everything would soon be in the best of shape. But what does one do with non-Jews? There's surelty an answer to that as well - the director will take care of everything. In brief, everything fell into place like a real theatre and when the days before the play arrived, printed placards - in Russian, you understand - were put up. Soon the tickets began to be sold at Alter Brevda, the photographer's, place and, before a day was out, the billboard was pasted over with a stripe (announcing) “All tickets sold out”.

Then the day for the dress rehearsal arrived and all the actors were very stressed. Suddenly, as often happens in big theatres, two actors exchanged angry words and had a fight. One decided that it was he who had to play the role of Matvey and he landed such a punch on his partner, Vladimir, that the latter was knocked senseless and passed out. You'll understand that immediately there was an uproar and it was decided that we were not acting with that Matvey, even if the world disappears! But what will one do without Matvey? Here (and now) we have to hold the dress rehearsal and tomorrow we are required, according to the permit from the authorities, to stage the presentation itself. If, God forbid, we postpone the show, we will have to begin anew the application for a permit, which is another four to five week business. In short, the situation is dire. Only a professional actor, like Brin, who is accustomed to such things, could give advice. He laid his hand on the shoulder of the one who had to play the marriage broker and said in a firm voice, “This member (of the cast) will also play Matvey”. “What do you mean?” people asked from all sides. “Is he a comedian or what?” … “Is it possible?” But, go argue! When the director pronounces, that's the way it is.

The following evening the town was gathered in the hall – and not just from the shtetl itself. People came from the whole surrounding region to see the play. How did they all manage to crush into such a narrow auditorium and where did they all go to? Don't ask! People were really hanging from the rafters. Who bought a ticket for cash and who received complimentaries - a reward for lending us furniture or some wardrobe? The show began – and was it ever a play! Then Lechovich was a Lechovich the likes of which had never been seen. People actually shook the hall with rousing applause and spirited cheering.

As befits a real theatre, a banquet was held after the show, with the local Polish doctor at the head. What is he doing there? Nu, the production was put on in Yiddish but what (self-respecting) doctor doesn't understand German?! There was a series of speeches in honour of the actors and particularly in honour of their pure, dedicated artistry. And when the director himself asserted that a professional company of artists would not be put to shame by such a performance, our spirits rose to seventh heaven. Was it any wonder that very soon posters were put up again, (announcing that) “by popular demand” the show would be played another time? So it was with a play by a theatre (group) which lasted with us for many years. Its foundation was laid here in that building by the first circle of lovers of dramatic art, as was heralded in the first posters.

Now we will allow ourselves to proceed with our stroll. We will stop before the house of Reb Noah “der Melamed” or Noah “Mislevozher” [from Mislevozh] - a dear Jew and a great Torah scholar. And there is the Pintshuks' house. One of them, Shaiye Pintchuk, was all his life a faithful Zionist devotee but he died along with everyone (in the Holocaust).

There is the home of our other Lechovich lawyer, Mendel Zmudziak or, as he was called, Mendel “Saban”. Exactly like his competitor, Shmuler, he was the father of many children – except that he was a great joker and was always in a good mood, not to mention a great apikores. On a hot Sabbath afternoon, he used to allow himself to drink a cold pitcher of sour milk soon after his cholent [an affront to Jewish religious law, which requires a long waiting period between meat and milk foods]. Thus he was the first person in the shtetl to go around hatless in the street. The frum [observant] Jews had washed their hands of him a long time ago. Hence, the young people stuck closely to him and especially the young intellectual women, with whom he spoke Russian and whom, from time to time, he honoured with one joke after the other, each “saltier” than the last …

Not far from the advocate's residence is a simple house where the quiet family of Reb Nache (Nachman) der Bal-Agole [the Carter] is to be found. Despite his occupation, he is an idealistic Jew of whom one cannot speak highly enough. At the time of evening prayers, he prays, you see, among his peers [literally, “among Jews of his degree”], but he has enough integrity to suffice for a whole minyan [prayer quorum of ten men] of fine balle-batim who have seats in the mizrach wall (of a synagogue).

And there is the home of our Lechovicher “Paganini”. I mean Reb Nishe der Klezmer [musician], with his son Shli'ome, the flutist. Who of us didn't know that serene and modest Reb Nishe with his fiddle who, together with his band, wrought wonders at weddings? He was already an elderly Jew, always cleanly dressed, with a silvery head of hair, cut short from behind and arranged “a la garcon”, with a large, broad golden ring on his finger. It was said that he had acquired the ring from a famous duke for his exceptional playing.

When Nishe took his fiddle in hand, the hearts of all those around began to pound. In particular, he vanquished every heart by his playing at wedding dinners. At the request of the parents of the bride and groom, he played “Kol Nidrei” [a prayer from the Yom Kippur service, with a haunting melody] or the “Pastechel” [shepherd's song]. Then, Jewish hearts melted as if made of wax; people were ready “to lift him in their hand”. When he played that Pastechel, he performed like a shepherd going out to graze his sheep – and suddenly a hungry wolf intrudes! The Pastechel wails, sheds bitter tears and calls for help. Suddenly the wolf spots a whole bunch of sheep, with their dogs going wild – he slinks off and all the sheep remain alive, thank God… Then [Shli'ome] plays the Pastechel as a song of praise to the Lord on his little whistle to (the melody of) Rachum ve-Chanun [another High Holyday prayer]. (The shepherd) calls in his sheep and makes his way home with them safe and sound. And then Nishe “gives a four” with his bow over the strings on the other side of his “Stradivarius”: a squeak is heard from a gate - a sign that the sheep were returning in their pen – and the joy of the listeners is unbounded. Oh, dear Nishe, you should enjoy an illustrious “Garden of Eden” for the huge pleasure which you brought with your playing to all those in deep despair.

Let's go a little further and, passing by the non-Jewish burghers' homes surrounded by gardens and orchards, we come to the little house which stands on its own at the very end of the street. Here, in complete isolation, live the family [p. 308] of Lemke Daiches or Reb Lemke Gavze (the father of Chayuta Busel). Despite the fact that that family is already described by our Dr. Grinspan and Chayuta herself , it is impossible not to say a few words about them here, since they were notable for an extraordinary likeness (to one another) which always made a special impression on everyone.

It was always difficult to determine to what (location) the inhabitants of that house should be ascribed – to a village (nearby) or to the town? One way or the other, should such a fine family work so hard in its own weaving establishment and live outside the town, somehow not at all like Jews? From the very first glance, one could deduce that the family were destined by God Himself for Eretz Yisroel. They even experienced bitter trials at home, like those with which the one-time immigrants to Eretz Yisroel were tested (thank God not today) – already in Lechovich they sampled the taste of kadoches [fevers, malaria, severe illness].

Let's leave that quiet and special family and go further on until we arrive at a pathway to the iron bridge, the bridge where our Lechovich youngsters used to let go on summer Sabbath-days, paddling in the fast-flowing river and singing “Nadson's” [popular sentimental melodies by a Jewish song-writer called Nadson] with dreamy eyes and overflowing hearts!

[passage about the street where the Tatar community in Lechovich lived, together with a photo of the Tatar mosque – not translated}

We leave the quiet, secretive part of the Tatars' Street and turn to enter the town, going by the houses of such outstanding balle-batim, as Ahare Mazhe [= Mazie?] or, as he was known, der Nayer Noggid [the newly rich man] (apparently because of some short-lived good fortune, which he had had while it held him); Aron-Leib Kantorovich, the big Koidanover chossid, Reb Moishe Neiman, one of the biggest pelt merchants in our region. (The latter), when not taken up with his business, always used to look for a free moment to glance at a Hebrew or Russian book or at a newspaper. He gave his children a nationalistic upbringing, in the best sense of the word. How sad he was, together with all his friends, when one of his daughters left the Jewish fold … Over here, lives Reb Shaiyel Gavze with his son Yechiel-Asher, who are also big pelt merchants and even bigger chassidim.

One should also point out where the poor widow, Rashe di Bekerke [the Bakerwoman], lived. She gained a name for herself among the local youth with her fresh bagels, which she prepared in the late evening hours, when the young people used to come back from Reb Shloime's “post-office”, or from a heated discussion in the (political) parties' “exchange-market”, or a strenuous rehearsal of a theatre piece, or just from a late stroll.

From the Tatars' Street let's go in to the left, to the start of Harevle Street [called “Revle Street” on the accompanying sketch-map of Lechovich], which leads to the “mountain” and from there, via the Klein Lotve [little meadow], straight to Polstanak. In the good old days, one journeyed there to the railway. In Hitler's time, however, our brothers and sisters were conveyed on that way to mass death. Then Harevle Street was converted into another “Death Road” … and so this time we will not make our way to Polstanak. No, this time we will not pause at this or that house, we will not even stop at the Pravoslav [Russian Orthodox] Church, where every Sunday our “dear” neighbours were taught to love one's enemy … in the dark days of Hitler, it seems, they forgot the Bible altogether.

But let us have courage, my dears, and press on until we arrive at the place where our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, little children and aged grandparents saw for the last time this sinful world, which betrayed them in such an ugly way and deceived them so outrageously …

And, as downcast and broken as they were before their martyr's death, let us gather around this huge, sacred mass-grave of our now-extinct shtetl and, with heads bowed, let us all say together, “Aycho yoshvo vodod” [“How doth the city sit solitary” – the first words of the Book of Lamentations].

Once there was a shtetl called Lechovich that for long generations throbbed with life. Today it stands denuded, mute and orphaned of its precious, loving children who were torn from it by violence and who have taken their leave of it forever, forever …

Yisgadal ve-yiskadash sh'may rabbo … ! [“Magnified and sanctified be His great Name!” – announcing the recitation of the Mourner's “Kaddish” prayer].

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