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Appendix 2: Sidney Bailey’s Memoir

Sensitivity to what he called “the expression of the soul, of spiritual life,” contended the German historiographer Wilhelm von Humboldt, was a sine qua non in the reconstruction of historical events, since everything active in world history also moves within the human heart. Thus, any historical writing which failed to “recognize the uniqueness and depth, the essential nature of the individual” was defective.1

Simply preparing an account of the achievements and failures of the immigrant Jews who were pioneer agriculturists in late nineteenth-century America will not suffice to make their story intelligible. Equally essential is some insight into the personalities and prior experience of these pioneers.

Sidney (Shneur) Bailey was a founder of Alliance, New Jersey. His memoir was composed in the early 1940s in response to a contest sponsored by YIVO, the Yiddish Scientific Institute in New York. YIVO’s leaders felt that the great mass of newcomers from Eastern Europe had not had their say in the unfolding of American Jewish history, and in 1942 YIVO announced a competition for the best autobiography on the subject: why I left Europe and what I have accomplished in America. Manuscripts submitted, it was hoped, would “be written with detail, accuracy and sincerity.” Twenty-five prizes were offered, ranging from a first prize of $100 to several prizes of YIVO-published books. Whether Sidney Bailey’s submission won a prize is unknown, but his memoir is not, in any case, especially important for any factual data it may preserve. Rather, it is important for its recapitulation of the mindset of the pioneers and for its projection of “the uniqueness and depth, the essential nature of the individual.”

Many notable personalities in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century East European Jewish life crossed Bailey’s path. No less intriguing in his memoir is an exuberant mixture of Jewish tradition and secular activity. The world Bailey knew, both in Russia and in America, was a world in transition from norms long established, but now faltering to a future whose shape was still blurred, still highly problematic. Bailey’s consciousness was that of a man who lived in more than one social and temporal context: he was at once a pietist and a modernist, at once a man steeped in East European Jewish mores and a man drawn to the radical enthusiasms of a turn-of-the-century Russian intellectual. Bailey in his blend of religiosity and secularism represented something novel in the Jewish experience, though precisely what, it is improbable that he (or his comrades) could have said. The haphazard character of Bailey’s account is not its least valuable feature: that haphazardness may be taken as reflective of the confusion which typified Jewish agrarian utopianism in the closing years of the nineteenth century.

I have translated the memoir from the original Yiddish typescript (YIVO Archives, Record Group No. 102: Collection of American-Jewish Autobiographies; folder No. 248) at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 1048 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10028.

My interpolations are enclosed in brackets; Bailey’s interpolations are in parentheses. Special comments by Bailey or his editor-typist are indicated by symboled footnotes.

What Am I and What Is My Life?

At the invitation of dear Dr. Max Weinreich, 2I will set down something of my modest life, something pertinent to Jewish life in the Ukraine during the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s of the last century.

I was born on the 19th of Kislev, 1862, in Odessa, a firstborn son of middle-class Hassidic parents and thus held in higher esteem than all the later children. When I had just turned three, I was sent to cheder [“Jewish community school”] to learn Torah. At that time, there was little concern for hygiene, either in the home or the cheder. [The cheder] in particular was crowded, dirty, and full of offensive odors, [but that was] where these tiny Jews would spend [the day] from very early in the morning till nightfall, and sometimes late into the night. [Parents] would send along with the assistant a bit of food for the child and he [the assistant] would eat it up so that little would be left for the child to eat all day. The teacher used to wield the rod with a free hand.

Despite it all, somehow a child would learn something and be sent to an advanced teacher to study Gemoreh [“Talmud”]. I remember, as a creature seven years old, how the teacher would lead me around and have me examined on a section of Gemoreh and a major theme dealing with the laws of torts, or even marriage and divorce laws. I wonder, how could such a guy show off such tricks! Somewhat later Rabbi Nahum Epstein, the father of [Zalman?] and Isaac, died.3 Later my teacher was Rabbi Abraham Moses, Dr. Nahum Slouschz’s grandfather.4 He would teach ten year old boys the [talmudic] tractates Shabbos, Baba Basra, and Hulin. My last teacher, the dearest and best, was Rabbi Moshe Leib, who would teach laboriously with not more than a few students all day and into the night, for ten rubles a month per child. In a half year, from winter to summer, he would teach a twelve-year-old pupil to know by heart one of the shorter tractates—Rosh Hashonoh, Betzoh, Hagigoh, Sukkoh, Megilloh, [or] Moed Koton—so that he would put his finger by a certain place, and ask us to recite from a folio and page number and we would do it without a mistake.

I became friendly with Yehoshua Rebbe Sirky [sic, Ravnitzky] in early youth.5 Orphaned in early childhood by the death of his mother, he had no place of his own and lived with us. He was a few years my senior. He had already made the acquaintance of Moshel [Moshe Leib Lilienblum], and through him I too met Moshel. 6 A cheder-chum of mine, Susel Schnitkover, “the Red,” saw me with Moshel and told on me at minchoh [“the afternoon worship service”], before the worshippers in the bes-hamidrosh [“synagogue”]. Do you know that Reb Shlome’s son hangs around with [an unbeliever like] Moshel! A pair of hot-headed fanatics grabbed me by the collar, threw me out of the bes-hamidrosh, and soaked me with wash-basin water. A. Litvin (Sh. Hurvitz),7 of blessed memory, wrote about this [incident] that here I received my first ritual purification with water.* At my bar mitzvah, when I said a pilpul [expounded a talmudic discourse] from toras kohanim [Leviticus], my father of blessed memory, gave me a set of Talmud as a gift.

My teacher advised my father to send me to a yeshiva [“rabbinical academy”], and this he did. For a full three years I had a taste of studying: “eating bread with salt and drinking water in limited measure” (Avot 6:4), “eating days” [taking meals with different families], etc.—and lying in dirt on the ground, suffering horribly [of] the third plague [lice] on Egypt in great abundance, as well as other plagues such as sores on my body. It’s a miracle I’m still alive. Finally I was caught by the mashgiach [“supervisor”] one evening, when he visited the yeshiva and the boys before bedtime. We were reading the [modernist pro-Hassidic] Sholom al Yisroel of Aaron Zvi Hakohen Zweifel [sic, Eliezer Zweifel], a teacher from the Zhitomir Rabbinical School.8 This was a sufficiently “heretical” book for that fanatic [supervisor] to decide to call a meeting the next day after minchoh [“the late afternoon prayer”] concerning the boy from Odessa. I was amazed to see that there had gathered together—or rather been herded together—all the yeshiva boys “that they might see and hear and avoid doing such a foul thing” [a Hebrew clause] and they began questioning me as though I were before the Inquisition. How did I get such a book?! To make a long story short, I spat and went back home immediately to Odessa. (Too sharp a knife doesn’t cut well; too strict supervision leads to no good.) And I became an infidel. To this day I am no advocate of yeshivas and haven’t a good word for any of them, not even those in this country. Neither the system of education nor the way of life of the bachelor-students [at a yeshiva] is right. It is injurious and dirty everywhere. At first, when I still wore a long kapote [“kaftan”] and peyes [“traditionally lengthy side-burns”], I was stared at as though I were some strange apparition. But I began to think it was ugly, so I put on a short coat, cut my peyes and began to wear a regular hat. A radical reform for me at that time! I looked up Yehoshua Ravnitzky, and found him a baal-tanach [“biblical scholar”] who wrote Hebrew according to the style of whatever book he happened to be studying at the time. And he was also studying higher mathematics from the Book of the Science of Geometry by the mathematician-engineer, Chaim Zelig Slonimsky, editor of [the Hebrew periodical] Hatzfirah.9 In fact, this would have ended my cheder and yeshiva period, in which I lived through more pain than joy from the good-for-nothing so-called teachers—with a few good exceptions, such as Rabbi Nachum Epstein, Rabbi Abraham Moshe, and the last rabbi of Odessa, Rabbi Moshe Leib. At that time, chadorim were forbidden in Russia, unless the rabbi passed an exam in Russian, which was at the time not usual among the Jewish communities in those places. The civil authorities would, from month to month, fall upon the yeshiva and drive the children out into the street, until they were bought off by the rabbis with a bribe (“no-bark-money”).* Also the method of instruction was not according to the verse “teach a child according to his ability” (Prov. 22:6).

Of my cheder friends I remember only a few. There was one boy, Moshe Putran, an only son. His father had a book store, a genuine Jewish person. Nevertheless, his only son somehow went to a commercial school and thence to the university somewhere deep in Russia, where he converted because he fell in love with a gentile girl. Another friend was Monish Polinkovsky, Rabbi Mikhl Hirsch’s son, with whom I was friendly to the end. Because of his family, he could not study in the Gymnasium [secular high school], but he knew Russian well and read the best of Russian literature. Later he married a niece who had graduated from a Gymnasium and kept a completely unkosher home, where I had my first taste of treyfa [“non-kosher”] food, concerning which Sholem Aleichem10 related to me that earlier, before leaving for Odessa, he would telegraph her to prepare a borsht and pot roast for him. Ravnitzky was at one time a partner in a book business with Polinkovsky, and when the latter suddenly died, Ravnitzky immediately married his widow, with whom he left Odessa to go abroad when our intelli-gentsia was fleeing from the Bolsheviks. Another young cheder- friend was Moshe Freeman, of blessed memory, author of two books, of which one was Fifty Years of Life in America [sic].11 Of other good friends, some became shochtim [“ritual slaughterers”], and others businessmen.

I can add a chapter about our neighbors, Hirsch and Elka Rabinovitz. They were flour merchants with three sons and one daughter—Ephraim-Froike, Yudele, [daughter] Leike, who later administered the Pasteur Institute in Paris,12 and Zusele, whose brilliant mind made him a banker and competitor with Wall Street magnates, who forced him to leave America. Actually, the mother was the wise one, the brilliant one, while the father was a simple man. Three children took after the exceptional mother, one after the father. I came to know the household as a boy, and would play little “baubles & beads” games with them. All the children were strong-willed. It once happened that Froike installed a pigeon coop, and one pigeon broke something in the house. When the mother came home from the store, little Leike tattled on him to her mother, who either admonished or punished him. From that time on Froike wouldn’t talk to his little sister, who used to take care of him in his mother’s absence. Somewhat later, Froike and I were racing each other [to see] who could read the Megilla [“Book of Esther”] or the sedro [“weekly pentateuchal portion”] more beautifully for his mother, and in the shul [“synagogue”]. That is how I became a baal-koreh [“a public reader of the weekly Torah portion”]. Froike went to study at the School of Commerce. He knew Hebrew, and together we would sing Ha-Chemloh (“Mercy”) and other songs of Adam Ha-Cohen Lebensohn.13 When I joined [the] “Am Olam” [movement], I got him interested too.14 He decided to give up his studies and come to America. There, being alone, he met a family he knew called Weitzman, from the Kiev “Am Olam” group, and fell in love with one of their daughters, whom he wished to marry. He asked for two hundred dollars from his father in Odessa. His father sent only half of it. Froike answered his father in Russian.*

Froike obtained a government position somewhere. The following kinds of things occurred. When my [own] daughter finished her medical studies, as did her fianc ´e, who later became her husband, they lacked the money needed to establish themselves in an office in the city. They got a position for doctors in Arizona, from which [in years past] a letter would travel five days by Pony Express, and [today] three by train. My children found Froike working there as the manager. Imagine the great joy when, after three years of service, the children decided to return to civilization, he wrote me.

A few years back, while my children were visiting in Los Angeles, they found Froike a municipal employee. When Froike left for America, his sister Leike came to me and asked me to be her stand-in brother. I was preparing her for entrance into the Gymnasium. Later she went to Paris to study medicine and I went to America, where we promised each other to be reunited. But fate decided otherwise. When I first arrived, I felt very lost and soon met Mademoiselle Mashbir, a graduated Bestuzhevka, who ran a cooperative tailor-shop, where my friend [Moni] Bakal and others worked.15 Her mother befriended me and advised her daughter to be more friendly to me. The first time I heard her speaking the real Berditchev Yiddish, I was amazed. And so we fell in love. Under the circumstances, I forgot my promise to Leike and married [Esther] Mashbir. I had met her brother, a functionary in Balta, in 1879. Meanwhile, Leike’s parents, along with mine, arrived here. After two years of studying in Paris, Leike became homesick and arrived here, to become very disillusioned. By then I was a farmer near Vineland, not far from Philadelphia. My parents wrote me that Leike demanded that I come to Philadelphia and help her gain admission to Women’s Medical College, the only school of its kind in the country. This I did. We did not see each other. She finished her studies and took a position in a New York City hospital, remained there for a short time, could not stand the way politicians ran the place, and left after making public their “noble” deeds. She left for Paris, where she became the world-famous biologist and director of the Pasteur Institute [sic]. Later she married a Dr. [Walter] Kempner, had two sons, and a daughter who died young. The mother, too, died in 1935, and the sons became attorneys. When Hitler took power in Berlin, the two sons fled. At first they lived for a few years in Palestine; now they are professors here. One is at the University of Pennsylvania, and the other is also a professor of law somewhere. The older one struck up a friendship with me and called on me a number of times. Now, due to the [World War II] shortage of gasoline, etc., he writes to me from time to time. Unfortunately, the parents ended up in an old age home, forsaken and forgotten after all they gave of themselves to make their children prominent.

Somewhat later, when the idea of the Am Olam became widespread, Ephraim Feldman16 arrived from Mohilev Podolsk; he was, by the way, a landsman [“a fellow townsman”] of the Rabinovitshes. I aroused his interest greatly, and he decided to come here. Feldman was exceptionally bright, a good Hebraist, a talmudic scholar, had also studied at the Gymnasium in Kishinev. I supplied him with an English Bible, because being proficient in the text of the Tanach [“the Hebrew Bible”], he would have little trouble learning English, with the help of this book and an English-Russian dictionary. He did not stay long in New York, and did not want to become a tailor, as did most of the immigrants. It suited [them] all to become “Columbus-tailors” with the exception of the smart Abe Cahan from Vilna and Nikolai Oleynikov from Kiev, the leader of that city’s immigrant party.17 E. Feldman, along with the Zolotarovs and others, went to Cincinnati. He came to Hebrew Union College, where he was snatched up like a “precious stone” and became a professor of several subjects. To such a rosh yeshivoh [“head of a rabbinical academy”] as Rabbi Carl Kaufman [sic, Kaufman Kohler], who ruled out circumcision (it goes without saying that he [Kohler] thought nothing of permitting leaven on Passover and other such transgressions of a trivial as well as of a more serious nature),18 and to students like Dr. [Joseph] Krauskopf,19 who gives a long sermon on Jesus on Kol Nidre [Yom Kippur, Atonement] night—it was just right for Ephraim Feldman to come out with a book in which he allows intermarriage. When Feldman heard that I, too, was already in America, was a buttonhole-maker, and intended to take up farming, he reproached me greatly. The great aristocrat and gentleman Michael Heilprin, of blessed memory, who had come here in the fifties of the last century with the Hungarian revolutionary [Louis] Kossuth, also deplored my decision. 20 Kossuth soon re-turned to Europe, and Heilprin remained and joined the [abolitionist] Boston party, which stood for giving full rights to the Blacks—the Negroes. Heilprin edited [in fact, he was not the editor] the weekly magazine The Nation, and also Appleton’s Cyclopaedia. He knew thirty-odd languages and could speak eighteen, and he regretted terribly that my wife and I did not want to study medicine, for which only the completion of a two-year course is required with very few expenses. Another would-be dissuader was [Rabbi] Sabato Morais, who started a rabbinical school [the Jewish Theological Seminary of America] on 125th Street in New York, was looking for students, and asked me to enter his college.21 I explained to them all that I had not come to America to be a doctor or a rabbi, but only to be a Jewish farmer [and] to find my sustenance from the soil which sustains all the living. Ephraim Feldman married and had children who became actors on the English-language stage. And he, Ephraim, died in an unusual way. On his way to deliver his defense of his thesis which could earn him the title “Doctor” [sic, actually to be awarded an honorary degree by the Hebrew Union College], he became nervous, took a bad fall, and died. And there is no trace of him, like all of them.

As I said before, I left yeshiva feeling insulted, but not being by nature a bad-tempered or spiteful man, I did not react like [the theologically atheistical or radical] Elisha ben Abuyah of old,* or like the latter-day “Other” [Lilienblum].22 No, I got together with Ravnitzky and sharpened my mind on the mathematical problems in Hatzfirah, and thus was introduced to the camp of Hebrew writers—Yiddish no one even mentioned!

At that time there was no newspaper in Yiddish. Soon afterward [sic, actually, in 1881], EReZ [Zederbaum]23 came out with his Folksblat in St. Petersburg; we sometimes sent it correspondence, unsigned, holding it no great honor that two such novices were writing in Yiddish. Ravnitzky learned some Hebrew, and as was the fashion, at 18 he became a bridegroom. I planned to become a licensed teacher and prepared for the required four classes in Gymnasium; later in Nikolayev I passed the examination.

One more episode, one that would have lasting effects. There are in life small occurrences with great consequences. At the beginning of Elul [late summer] of 1879 I attended a wedding in Balta, where two of my cousins became sons-in-law of the well-known Rabbi Dovidl Balter, an author of rabbinic responsa. It was not usual for our small-town Ukrainian rabbis to write books.

There was a cousin from Odessa there, a brother of the famous actor Moshe Funkel. Funkel was [considered] a great blemish to the family. My mother Freidl was too ashamed to show her face to her friends. His family would have nothing to do with him. [Even] in their greatest need, they refused to call on him. When Funkel had a son, no one in the family came to the bris [“circumcision”]. My father, may he rest in peace, Sutzki, and I were there. Freidl was so fanatical she was truly mortified that this had happened to her only sister. She had no one left in her family besides her. For a boy to go to St. Petersburg and study to become a Russian actor was such a great shame that Freidl didn’t speak to her sister for the rest of her life.

Funkel’s brother was touched by the modern ways; [he was] a maskil [“emancipated intellectual”]. He had traded in the Balkans in 1876, during the Turkish War. He dressed in modern fashion, and certainly did not observe kashrus [“the traditional dietary laws”] on his travels. I recall that we both left the main synagogue the same summer in which he later got married, and after the [reading of the biblical book of] Lamentations,* we met down by a soda kiosk to have a drink. I warned him that this was not a proper way for a bridegroom of Rabbi Dovidl to act, because many people came from Balta to Odessa on business. He laughed it off, but at his wedding they dressed him up in all the traditional attire: a kitl [“a white robe”] and a long kaftan. He was led through the streets to and from the synagogue with a drum. He wrote me that at Balta during the ten days of penitence [between the Jewish new year and the Atonement fast] in the main synagogue, where the rabbi usually prayed, they gave him maftir [let him conclude the biblical readings with the prescribed passage from the Prophet Hosea] on Shabbos Shuvo, a great honor in Israel. And how amazed I was when the oldest daughter Brocho—a divorcee (the rebitzin [“rabbi’s wife”] was already dead by then)—presented me with [a copy of] Chatos Neurim (“Sins of Youth”) by Moshel [Lilienblum]. Sabbath morning she goes to shul with a thick Korban Minchoh siddur and a shawl over her eyes, and on her way back from davenen [“prayer”] she would pay a visit to a certain maskil. Here I saw her take off her head covering and sit with two long braids hanging down to her shoulders. The second son-in-law of the Balter rabbi was a spiteful one. He would send his Jewish servantgirl to market for milk, and his gentile one for wine at the Jewish tavern-keeper’s. At his wedding I first met my brother-in-law-to-be, Lazar Mashbir.24 He was dressed like one of those Russian officials who steal children from rich parents and send them to a Gymnasium, thus greatly grieving the parents. Since the rabbi’s daughters were intelligent, they moved in maskil circles. So the maskilim were also at the wedding, where I met many of them, but I made life-long friends only of some of them who greatly influenced my early life. Reb Mordechai Voskoboinik married a girl from the Balta region; he was learned and clever, but far too honest. He came to Odessa a bit later to take a position as bookkeeper for a wholesaler. That is what we called a businessman who bought and sold grain, groceries, etc., to the small-town businessmen and salesmen of the region. Reb Mordechai Voskoboinik understood Russian too, but could not speak it well. A bit later I taught Russian to such a group. Reb Mordechai later came here with the Brotherhood. He, his wife, and small son set up a tailor shop until they arrived in the place of their desire, the [New Jersey] colony of Carmel. There he continued tailoring until he became a grocer. He told me that as long as he was a tailor, he had a reputation as a good and honest man, but as soon as he became a grocer, his customers, who buy readily on credit but pay back with great difficulties, said he was a thief.

I also met a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Gellis, who used to visit the circle of maskilim on Sabbath and smoke. They also moved to Odessa, where they set up a domashni obed (Rus., “a restaurant where home-made dinners were served”), but later joined an acting troupe under the direction of “Shomer” [Shaikewicz] who wrote plays.25 And last but not least, I met with my friend by destiny, my teacher Bakal—a unique specimen of a man in our time. But it would take an extra chapter to tell about the head and heart of the Brotherhood, a friend of labor, himself a worker, who became a rabbi’s son-in-law and heir to all his property in the form of a dowry as well as [husband] to his beautiful daughter. Not to leave anything out, I would like to relate an episode which characterizes the generational conflict of that time. Rabbi Dovidl had a brother Avromtsi, the shochet of Soroki. He used to ask us, the in-laws, to sing the cantillation of the Chumosh [Pentateuch], and he would read according to the cantillation the text of the whole Torah; he did the reading perfectly without a mistake. But his son Shmuel was already a spiteful maskil and later became a market-merchant (“a stall-keeper”).

Now concerning my relations for many years with Moshe Leib Lilienblum (olov hasholom [“may he rest in peace”]). I returned from the Balter rabbi’s wedding (1879) with a new circle of worthy friends, Ukrainian maskilim with liberal ideas, the “nihilists” of the time. In his free time, I would meet again with Yehoshua Ravnitzky, my friend—who was like a brother. He had become a Hebrew teacher and also, more or less, a writer, a pioneer in Hebrew. Ravnitzky also seriously studied Russian and even German. Ravnitzky and I would often go to see and hear Moshel (may he rest in peace). In that troubled time it was forbidden for a large number of people to assemble in a home. We hit on the idea of meeting on Sabbath and Holy Days in the court of the big shul. It was in a central location at the intersection of Hebrew and Reshelia Streets. At one such meeting during [the fall] Sukkos [“harvest festival”] we received the sad news that Ilya Orshansky had died.26 We quickly crowned Moshel to fill the vacant position, and thus began a new era in Moshel’s activities; [now he would] occupy himself with the discriminatory laws against our brothers in Russia. As is known, Orshansky had written a few books on the discriminatory laws against Jews, as well as a book on the Jewish situation in Russia.

Here is another episode from that period. The “Saul of Tarsus,” Jacob Gordin,27 made his appearance in Odessa at that time, with the teacher Priluker as his main supporter. They had a brand-new group: “Yevreiskoye Bratstvo” (“the Jewish Brotherhood”), which rapidly gained a following among the Jewish lower classes, the downtrodden, and the socially rejected tailors and shoemakers. One Friday evening, Moshel, Ravnitzky, and I visited Gordin to talk about [his] “Bratstvo.” Gordin, very rude and very egotistical, told us to leave, without letting us utter a word. Moshel too reacted to this incident in several of the articles he wrote, in Russian and in Hebrew. Moshel had learned to read and understand Russian well, though he had trouble speaking it. He never acquired the proper accent; he would speak like a Lithuanian [Jew] who says Savuos for Shavuos. Often, Moshel would read his articles to the two of us. When I became a licensed teacher, Moshel was a friend and colleague of mine. In these schools he taught religion, and I, arithmetic. We would see each other often at other times. And in the summer of 1881, when the [Am Olam] Brotherhood grew better known following the terrible Passover pogroms in South Russia and the Ukraine, I met with Moshel and spoke with him about the Brotherhood. He said to me, as if “in spite,” that if he had to leave home—till the very end he spoke of “Mother Russia”—why did it have to be across the ocean, as far as to America, and not to Palestine. And thus Moshel had the honor of becoming the founder of the [proto-Zionist] “Love of Zion” [movement]. Lilienblum was then earning very little. He would get ten rubles a month for teaching and a miserable pittance for his writings—a bit more for Russian than for Hebrew articles. He lived in extreme poverty with his wife, a butcher’s daughter, who would earn “water for their kasha” [“water in which to cook their groats” = very little money] by repairing torn rubber shoes, in this way helping to support quite a large family of ten people. At that time, when I would visit his house, until the end of the year 1884 Moshel still remained a heretic—he continued behaving like “Aher” [Elisha ben Abuyah], even when not intentionally, perhaps out of habit. It did not bother him that his wife went to the synagogue on the High Holy Days [in the fall—New Year and Atonement Day], and he would remain at home, reading, writing, and receiving me and others who could discuss matters of interest to him. As is known, the assimilated “Pogrebalni Obshchestvo” [“funeral society”] employed him as secretary and paid him better than “our brothers” (meaning: the religious establishments) pay their officials. And this same Moshel later became one of the regular members of the minyan [“worship quorum”] of the Yavneh Synagogue; and [I remember] the way Moshel later used to be called for an aliyoh [synagogual Torah reading], and would read a Haftoroh [prophetic portion] with so much feeling, although the modern Elisha ben Abuyah could not become reincarnated into a [theologically orthodox] Rabbi Akiba28 . . . Darwin was asked, in his old age, if he still stuck to his theory of “evolution” and answered the same as Moses did when he thought about the mystery of Creation, “Show me, I beg of You, Your glory.” This “secret” is not to be explained “for no man may see me and live.”* Albert Einstein gave the same reply at greater length. Moshel could not change his mind; he did what he did only to please the community.

[I want to speak of] my relationship with Yehoshua Ravnitzky, “a friend like a brother to me,” who worked faithfully for seventy years in the field of our literature. Yehoshua had been orphaned by his mother at a very early age. We had met at the bes-hamidrosh. He was all alone, and so became a frequent and very welcome visitor at our house. He remained [virtually] a member of our household for many years, even after I left for America. He would visit my parents and comfort them. Yehoshua was a bit older than I by exactly how much I don’t know. He was the more progressive of the two of us and we treated each other like close friends. He was the one who brought me closer to Moshel. We studied together in the bes-hamidrosh and ate dry rolls and baked potatoes. In these early times I became acquainted with Moshe Freeman, with the Zhypnik brothers, full orphans [fatherless and motherless], in whose house we had many good times, and with other fine buddies and good students. Freeman was married very young, according to custom. He married and lived through pogroms in Odessa, suffered greatly, according to the verse: “A Jew is a slave and scorned.”* He joined the Brotherhood, actively participated in it, and left for America with the first party in February 1882. He came here, became a farmer for a short time, but could not put up with the hardships of changing from a yeshiva and bes-hamidrosh student to a farmer, an occupation unknown to his fathers and forefathers through all the years of their Exile.

We are now in the third and longest Exile of our history, begun by Constantine I [the fourth-century Roman ruler Constantine the Great, first of the Christian emperors] in the first centuries of our common era. It is a few thousand years since our Exile in Egypt. The Babylonian Exile was the shortest and easiest, from which we were saved and brought to Jerusalem by Ezra and Nehemiah, who edited the Tanach [Hebrew Bible] and rebuilt the Bes-Hamikdosh [“Jerusalem Temple”], where the Levites could sing the Psalms and the Men-of-the-Great-Assembly [precursors to Pharisaic Judaism] taught the people Tanach: the most rational legislation represented by the Law of Moses—the words of the Prophets burning like fire—until our downfall at the hands of those Hitlers of past ages, the Romans.

M. Freeman edited a Yiddish newspaper in Philadelphia for a short time. Later he became a well-to-do businessman. He also wrote a two-volume work about the fifty years of his life in America. He remained a stranger to me during all the years.

When I returned from the Balter rabbi’s wedding I had met a circle of those so-called “evil-men,” the maskilim. It seems to me that the Ukrainian Jews are friendlier, less egotistical, and less mercenary than the Litvaks [Lithuanian Jews]. At the time I had decided to prepare myself for the profession of teaching, yet I did not ignore my friend Yehoshua. In the free time he had from teaching Hebrew, we studied and read Russian together. Not ordinary novels, but the critics and [Nikolai Konstantinovitch] Mikhailovski—isn’t this how all the maskilim began?—and also [Vissarion Grigorevitch] Byelin-sky, [Nikolai Alexandrovitch] Dobroliubov, [Dmitri Ivanovitch] Pisarev, and even the American [John William] Draper in Russian.29 At that time Zalman Epstein (Zeben) had come to Odessa from the Volozhin Yeshiva “full and overflowing with knowledge” to his old teacher [?—name unclear], who had once been my Talmud teacher as well. Zeben began to study Russian from the critic Pisarev, and with his younger brother Isaac, I began to teach him Russian from the Zecher Rav [not clear, perhaps a teacher’s manual for Russian language with Hebrew explanations]. Isaac later became the mentor of [manuscript blank here]. I was somewhat bolder than he was, so I soon took up the “theory of evolution” for which my first teacher was Dr. Aaron Porjes,30 whom I had known in Odessa and who favored me with his epoch-making Sefer Toras Chaim. Yehoshua [Ravnitzky] tried writing in Hebrew, and I emulated him for a while, until my teaching and studies and other activities for the needs of our people at that time became too demanding and I had to give it up. Yehoshua, however, kept on and succeeded. He was published in the Hebrew newpapers, and in the journal Ha-Boker Or. Yehoshua married early. His wife bore him one child and died delivering the second. He remained a widower for most of his life. His mother-in-law and father-in-law did not want to part with the child, and so he remained quite free. He taught. He perfected himself in writing for the Hebrew and Russian press, and boarded with a lady-friend of ours, Feye Polinkovsky, granddaughter and daughter-in-law to Odessa rabbis. She had completed Gymnasium in Radomisl. Yehoshua ran a book business with her husband, our old friend Monish Polinkovsky. When Monish later died, Yehoshua married Feye. He became acquainted with [the poet Chaim Nachman] Bialik, with whom he was later a partner in the publishing firm Sifrei Dvir, became a friend of Ahad Ha-Am, of the Litvak Mendele, a friend of Sholem Aleichem, and he too used Yehoshua, just as had Bialik.31 Later Yehoshua left for Palestine, published [with Bialik] the Sefer Ha-Aggadah and others. He finally died at a ripe old age and left an only son to take over his publishing house in Tel Aviv.

[I want to discuss] my connection with Moni Bakal. He was all “purity,”* the heart and soul of the Brotherhood. When I met him in Elul (late summer) of 1879 at a wedding, he was already suffering for an ideal. Bakal was a rare gem, whose father was mentor and educator at the home of the millionaire Toltchinsky, a sugar-magnate in Uman, Kiev province. Bakal was the son-in-law of the rabbi of Ternivke, not far from Balta, and received as a dowry rights to four positions in addition to a beauty of a woman, the rabbi’s daughter. She bore him a son when he was barely eight [sic, eighteen]. Shortly after the wedding the rabbi issued Bakal a writ of divorcement [because he considered Bakal an unbeliever] and the episode ended. Bakal told me that even as a boy he loved to scrutinize the scriptural texts. He would wonder at the words “said Elohim.” Amar (“said”) is in the singular, while Elohim (“God”) is a plural noun. He would hide a volume of philosophy under his Gemoreh and steal a peek at it. He meditated upon the maxim of the Ethics of the Fathers: “Love work and hate the office of the Rabbi.”*

I had already heard that a few [members] of the circle, including Bakal, were coming to Odessa. Later, I found Bakal an apprentice to a jeweler, a Mr. Cohn, the father of Mr. Lawrence, manager of the Yiddish theatre in Brownsville.

This kind of work is called (in talmudic parlance) a “clean trade.” Another of the circle, also of refined conduct, a maskil, Mordechai Voskoblinikov, had a position as bookkeeper for a wholesaler, some sort of broker for Ukrainian businessmen in Odessa. His low wages forced his wife to take in a few boarders. Bakal was one of them. Another boarder was one Max Rabinovitz, along with a brother, who later became famous here [in America] as a champion of birth control. At Voskoblinikov’s house we would gather on Sabbaths and festivals, young men and women, to read Russian and have discussions. I was a good deal younger than they, but Bakal, who was a great smoker, used to stop smoking, in deference to the ladies. Among the many visitors was also one Shapiro, from Lithuania, who appeared to be observing his own kind of golus (exile). He was a sort of a vagabond. He would read to us from [the liberal British philosopher] John Stuart Mill in Russian, with [Peter] Lavrov’s commentary; [Shapiro was] a true maskil, who many years later became known for his “Lovers of Zion” activities.32

In the meantime I became a licensed teacher and taught in a school [called] Malenki Yeshibot, where students studied without paying. Only Moshel was paid. Through his acquaintance I became a frequent visitor to the university, where I was a non-paying auditor of [lectures by] Prof. Eli Metchnikov and other liberal professors.33

With the advent of reaction came a decree from St. Petersburg to dismiss liberal professors, so Prof. Metchnikov was fired and decided to go to Paris. The students gave a banquet in his honor, at which he spoke about his ancestry; and soon revealed that his mother was a Jewish woman.

I also became friendly with a teacher from the Trud School (“Trud” means “work” in Russian). This was a school with the purpose of teaching Jewish children to be useful through labor. Although this school operated for several years, it never bore fruit, due to the discriminations against Jewish craftsmen by the Russian craft-associations. The end result was that the graduates of the school who were children from well-to-do families went abroad to study, and those from poor families were forced back into working as clerks in small stores.

This situation most likely was one of the initial incentives for the idea of farm labor-colonies initiated by the Am Olam movement.

In March, 1881, Alexander II was assassinated, and he was succeeded by his cruel son [Alexander III], who sought revenge for the ugly death of his father. Pogroms against the Jews were the most proven means of action, so horrible pogroms occurred in southern Russia during Easter week. We sensitive Jewish students were embittered. We laid aside our studies and began to think of how we could aid the community in its slavish position. Is the “Jew a slave to be scorned?”* We petitioned Petersburg for land to establish a colony in Kherson Province. This was completely refused. At that time a professor, well known in Odessa, had purportedly published a book about the joys of farming in the United States.34 Travelling in our area at that time were agents to recruit emigrants; they gave birth to a movement to leave Step-Mother Russia and go to America, the land of democracy, to be Jewish farmers there, and perhaps even to build our own state, like the Mormans’ state of “Utah.” Our state would be built on humanitarian principles, such as already existed there. Bakal threw himself wholeheartedly into this movement with all he possessed. The few hundred (rubles) of his savings he put into the common fund, and for a long time he subsisted on bread and tea. One episode: It happened that Bakal’s father paid a visit to Odessa to see his fine son. The father came to his lodgings and found a bunch of pranksters—his son’s good friends. Bakal wore a short coat and long hair, and his friends wore their shirts over their pants, in gentile fashion. We saw in him (Bakal’s father) a fine subject to ridicule. We were all embittered over cheder [and were] against the practices laid down in the Talmud, and we discussed Jewishness with the old man. We were aware of the fact that we were hurting the old man, very much so, with our objections to and criticisms of the Jewish code. I confess that I told him that in addition to our dissatisfaction with tradition, Talmud, Shulchan Aruch [a sixteenth-century rabbinic law code still considered authoritative by Orthodox Jews], customs and laws, we even had some serious disagreements with the Toras Moshe [Law of Moses: the Pentateuch]. At this the old man gave a deep sigh and said naively and painfully: It is pitiful to see how such fine noble souls are drowning. . . . It would have been more pleasant to take a slap in the face from the old man than to hear these words. I then made a vow to “be careful with my words.” In the meantime the Brotherhood (Am Olam) had become widely known in the town and in the university. More students joined these folks in their time of need. At this time the word “career” was regarded with loathing by the students. Because while one was studying there could be no talk of careers. One should not even mention it and thus avoid the contempt of friends. Frei-ibergegebene-dienst (literally, “voluntary dedicated service”) was our key-word. Some of them were: Max Rabinovitz [known as?], Ben-Ami,35 a descendant of shochtim* Simon (his family name escapes me just now), and Konstantin Fritz. He [Fritz] later became the head doctor in a large Jewish hospital; he had received a 50,000-ruble dowry, but ended up starving in Berlin when the Bolsheviks took power in Russia. Yegor Shabshovitz, Gortenshtein, [and] Brody [were] among many others [involved in the struggle]. Also Balta with my brother-in-law Mashbir at the head, Kiev with Nikolai Oleynikov at the head, Krementchug with Chaim Spivakovsky, Poltava with Israel Isser Katsovey [Kasovich],36—[all] with a membership in the thousands. I also made the acquaintance of Jacob Cohen Bernstein, brother of Lev Cohen Bernstein, the famous revolutionary, who was dragged from his sick-bed and led to the gallows.37 Jacob was an easy-going sort who had studied in Kiev University to become a mathematics teacher in a Gymnasium. He did not balk at the fact that he would have to convert. But when Lev became notorious as [a revolutionary and thus cast] a stigma on the family, Jacob was expelled from his class and forbidden to study anywhere in Russia.

The brothers B[ernstein] and a little sister Anute came from a very assimilated family. Their parents were from Vienna. The father died in Kishinev where they owned a number of houses which brought in enough income to allow them to live in Odessa and to give their children a proper education. Jacob was also a concert pianist; the mother of the household spoke only German [and] never attended a synagogue. My mother, may she rest in peace, always identified him (Jacob) as the “one who never speaks Yiddish.” I also met their close friend, Professor Mikhal Philipov,38 whom I taught Jewish subjects and who published a three-volume book: What Is a Jew? (in Russian: “Chto Takoi Yevrei?”). This professor’s father was a convert to Christianity and edited the journal Ruskii Vestnik (“Russian Herald”), but his mother was descended from the highest Russian nobility.

M. Bakal would address meetings and prepare texts for leaflets which we would reproduce and print in the university labs, which was a kind of state within a state, where the police had no right to enter. . . . Although no Jew should be an “accuser” against the Congregation of Israel, nevertheless I must relate several sad facts. Jewish society showed no concern about “What will the non-Jews say.” Professor Philipov, who alone carried the expenses of the publication, never received a penny in return for his three volumes, What Is a Jew? Jacob Cohen Bernstein, after he had “sanctified the Name,”* served the Brotherhood (Am Olam) with great self-sacrifice for several years. He later became a good doctor and served in Kishinev during the years of the First World War. And when [after World War I] Kishinev became a part of Rumania—[those people] from the seed of Amalek —Jacob Cohen Bernstein went to Eretz Yisroel [Palestine], where he received no recognition for many years, and after much hardship returned to Soviet Russia, where he died shortly thereafter. Jacob Cohen Bernstein was also the right hand of Theodor Herzl, may he rest in peace. Both had the same end.

The representatives of that cirle of Brotherhood members in Nikolayev were: Paul Kaplan, who later took up studies in medicine here and became an M.D., distinguishing himself thereby. He ran the New Odessa commune in Oregon. There was also Jacob Peisochovitch—child and son-in-law of rich men, graduate of the “Real-Schule,”§ he and his wife Chaya were fascinated by the Brotherhood.39 Another, Z. Rosenblith, we took great pains to protect from the police, so that no unfriendly eye should fall upon him. We disguised him in women’s clothes on his leaving Russia. The emigrants were all of Jewish stock: students, who were under the surveillance of the police. There were also adventurers, fortune [hunters] and bread seekers; there were also many idealists wishing to become self-sufficient and help others to become farmers and wash away the stain of the belief that Jews could not work the land, since they had not been permitted by the Russian government to do any farming.

The city of Odessa was divided into small circles, each with a representative. I had the honor of being the representative for one such group. I recall one time when I was talking of the joys of farming, although the Talmud had warned us that the farmer feeds everyone else and starves himself (der erd-arbeter shpayzt andere un hungert zelbst). The great Margolis40 was at the meeting, and he asked me if I had ever tried to load hay into a wagon. I, who had never in my life been on a farm—[in Russia] it is not fashionable as it is here to take a “country” vacation—could only answer: “There’s nothing you can’t do if you really want to do it. “Where there’s a will there’s a way, even in so hard a task as loading hay. The leaders who were politically suspect would avoid those small group meetings. Many police, with the police colonel at their head, fell upon such a meeting in January, 1882. We were very fearful at first and felt lost, but then some of the brave ones found their tongues and said that we were discussing emigration to America. The head of the police burst into a fit of malicious laughter and wished us a smooth journey. Nevertheless they took us to the police station, where we were kept twenty-four hours. Raids began occurring in every house; they were searching for politically subversive materials. We remained under police surveillance for a whole year and would have to report each month to the police. On my visits I was witness to much cruel treatment.

The first group of Am Olam emigrants was in February, 1882, after we received information from our two delegates Ben-Ami and Simon (?), who had been sent earlier to Vienna and Paris. There they prevailed upon the Alliance Israélite Universelle to authorize Herr Carl [Charles] Netter41 to manage the emigration at the city of Brody on the border of South Russia. Ben-Ami returned to Odessa and Simon (?) went to New York to take care of the next step of our task. He telegraphed short and sharp: “We are receiving everything we asked for.” At these words many families broke up and left across the ocean with no possibility of every returning. They were ruined.

M. Bakal left with the first party of exiles, and arriving in New York, he met with the true distressing situation. The assimilated American Jews, the “allrightniks,” did not empathize with the immigrants, the former heads of families who were now homeless wanderers. The by-word was “help yourself,” and we were advised to forget our Am Olam ideals and take a pack of merchandise on our backs, climb the stairs, and peddle door-to-door, as had their fathers upon their arrival in America as greenhorns.42 Many could not survive these catastrophes and went back, but Bakal withstood the disaster and did not lose his head. One must have patience. He and the whole group of student youth became shirt-makers, with the exception of two: Jacob Cohen and Nikolai Oleynikov. Levi Miller, a child of wealthy parents and a Gymnasium graduate, worked many hours all day and also found time to learn English. “As a father has mercy on his children,” Bakal became a father to all the disappointed and helped everyone in many ways, even lending a hand to some good-for-nothings. He worked so that morale should be maintained and not sink lower. Bakal acquired a large circle of admirers, whom he served as a [sort of] rebbe [or “guru”], speaking and lecturing on Sunday evenings and not relinquishing, even for a moment, the idea of realizing the Am Olam ideal, even if only on a small scale. Several attempts were made to establish colonies in various American states. The energetic Meeker was leading some in Kansas; my brother-in-law, Mashbir, with Herman Rosenthal in Dakota.43 Nothing remained of any of these [colonies], except for the ones in New Jersey [which] exist to this day more as stores than farms. The largest were in Alliance: Rosenhayn, Carmel, Garden Round. In Alliance there gathered Bakal, Spivakovsky, Schwartz, [George] Seldes,44 Katsovey, Peisochovitch. I too came here in the autumn of 1885 and found Bakal living with Spivakovsky, in the same place where I boarded. As related earlier, I found in Alliance the following members of our Brotherhood [Am Olam]: Spivakovsky, Peisochovitch, Schwartz, Katsovey, Feffer, Seldes, myself, and a few more, enough for a minyon. It happened that Schwartz’s one-year old child became sick. It was a Friday evening, and a cold rain was falling and they sent for Bakal to come immediately to look at the child. Bakal, the father of mercy, would not have stayed away even if his shoes had been torn. . . . he told me it was very risky for him to go anywhere, but he took pity on Schwartz and his family, and ignored the deadly dangers lurking in wait for him. Yes, this aggravated the illness and Bakal was sick all through the winter, and on March 7, 1886, we buried him. A couple of nights earlier he had asked me to take him outside so that he could bid farewell to the clear sky and stars. “A pitiful loss, a loss not to be replaced.” And so the life of a rare and loving soul was cut off. Bakal died in his mid-twenties. The sanctimonious chevro kadisho [“burial society”] would not let us dig a grave in the graveyard row, and forced us [because of his radicalism] to bury him outside the fence of the cemetery as Jewish communities used to bury one who [violated Jewish law by] committing suicide.

Something worth recording from the lives of my deceased wife and from her brother. Their father was Rabbi Shlomo Mashbir. Shlomo Mashbir, by the way, was the model for the protagonist Vecker (the “arouser”) of [Sholom Jacob] Abramovitch’s drama, Die Takse (“The Tax”). [Abramovitch’s] pen name was Mendele Mocher Seforim (“Mendele the Bookseller”). Mendele was a family friend and an admirer of Rabbi Shlomo. Mashbir was a man of fine family, son of Rabbi Mordechai Mashbir, whom the city of Berditchev entrusted with the commission of bringing from Pinsk [the body of] Rabbi Levi Yitzchok, the greatest and most saintly soul after the [Hassidic founder] Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory.45 Rabbi Mordechai, the grandfather of my wife, had the honor of having his grave beside that of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok. Rabbi Shlomo Mashbir had semikhoh [certification] to be a rabbi, but without any claim to a [rabbinical] position, because he had no in with the tax collector, who would skin the hide of the poor.* R. Shlomo Mashbir pitied them. My future wife, Esther, was an only daughter, known in the whole city for her beauty and kindness, always modest and concerned for others. Since her childhood she had no enemy. When she was six years old, her father sent her to a modern government-supported school, where she was privileged to attend tuition-free. She was soon on the honor roll. There was a section in Berditchev known as the old city, where most of the Jewish institutions were located and where most of the orthodox and common folk lived. There were many batei-hamidroshim as well as the large synagogue where my cousin, Naphtali Balter, was cantor for many years. Later the famous cantor Nisan Belzer came there. Also living there was Reb Jacob Yossi Heilperin, a banker, a rich man but a devoted hosid [“pietist”], who prevented the liberal rabbinical school from being established in Berditchev. It was moved to Zhitomir, [a town] not far away but belonging to another province. The Mashbirs lived on the street where the shul was. There too lived Rabbi Yosef and other Jewish notables. In the newer part of town lived the newly rich, who had their own [more modern] choral-shul, with Cantor Bachman.46 They never stopped persecuting Heilperin, and ruined him completely. They established a school for girls, run by assimilated German Jewish women. My future father-in-law, Reb Shlomo Mashbir, had two sons and only one daughter, Esther. Reb Schlomo knew that the haskoleh47 [“the Haskalah, or intellectual enlightenment movement of the nineteenth century”] would reach their section of town, too, so he sent his boys to the state school and his little daughter to the “Pension,” as the girls’ school was called. His justification was that his children should at least be refined goyim [“gentiles”], not boors. The boys went to study at the Zhitomir Rabbinical School. Nothing came of the elder one, but the second, Lazar Mashbir, became an official and a journalist. He was also a friend of Karl Emil Franzos.48

When Shlomo Mashbir brought his daughter, dressed in the poor Jewish costume, to the “Pension” for the first time, she was laughed at by the spoiled children there. Esther was about six years old. She could already read the Hebrew prayerbook and knew a little Chumosh [“Pentateuch”], but no Russian. The teacher read [Mikhail Yurievitch] Lermontov’s poem “Molitva” (“A Prayer”) to the class and asked who could repeat it.49 Nobody volunteered but they pointed at the new pupil. So the teacher called upon the new pupil and asked if possibly she could recite it. Esther got up before the class and recited the entire poem without an error. This called forth applause from everyone. From that time on she was everybody’s favorite. She had a sharp intellect, good understanding, and an extraordinary memory, and so she remained on the honor roll for all five years. After her graduation, little Esther became a Russian teacher for rabbis’ daughters and other young ladies. Soon after, she decided to attend the girls’ Gymnasium in Zhitomir. She was strong-willed and would not give in to any obstacle. She had prepared for the fifth class, but since there were no vacancies, she enrolled in a lower one. Nothing mattered so long as she was in a Gymnasium. Here too she was greeted at first with laughter from the students, because her accent wasn’t the pure Russian of the kind spoken in the Gymnasium, but here too little Esther found favor with some classmates, who corrected her pronunciation. After this, through her whole life no one could tell she was not a genuine Russian.

Several White Russians who had fled the Bolsheviks live here in Alliance. A few came from Odessa, my birthplace. One had graduated a military academy, and one was a woman who had studied at a state-school where I once taught. They all marvelled at the fact that Esther Mashbir-Bailey was still reciting Russian poetry after being here for over fifty years.

There in Zhitomir Esther once took on a job of tutoring a pupil from the first class, a dullard, to earn living expenses and pay the Gymnasium tuition. It was like chopping wood to pound some knowledge into this dullard’s head. Coming out of class tired from the day’s studies, she would have to begin working with this dolt, and only afterwards have time to prepare her lessons. Her parents couldn’t help her. Her mother had become a money-changer, something of a job. Her father, after the ruin of the magnate Reb Jacob Yossi Heilperin, could find nothing to do. He went to Odessa, where he barely managed to subsist by selling rags, also not much of an occupation. No matter how hard Esther’s life ever became, she always found learning easy and would always distinguish herself with her skillful writing.

The principal of the Gymnasium—she had formerly been a lady’s maid-in-waiting—had a daughter in Esther’s class. The Gymnasium awarded a gold medal to the student who was consistently outstanding. The teacher decided that Esther must receive the medal. This upset the principal, and she fired the teacher. When the new teacher arrived, he wanted to test the class he was meeting for the first time. As little time was left for the term, he assigned a theme to be written that night and submitted the next day. The next day he collected the themes, with the names of the students on them. When he returned from grading them he called on Mademoiselle Mashbir, whose theme he had found to be the best, and he too nominated her for the gold medal.

In those years, the 70’s and 80’s of the last century, there were in all of Russia only two universities for women, a medical and a teacher’s school. Esther decided to continue her studies, but since she could not afford medical school, she chose the teacher’s school. Students were not required to attend lectures. The student would pay, get his books, and come to exams at the end of the term. None of the professors and none of the students knew one another. Esther was well suited to this method of study. She obtained a position for the whole winter in Uman, studied the lessons for the first year, and took her exams in the spring.

One of the subjects was the Old Slavonic language. The students arrived for the exam. It happened that before Esther, a great beauty had been examined. The professor was so preoccupied with this belle that he became confused and gave Esther no mark, but only said that she had gotten a three, which meant that she had failed and would have to repeat the year. But Esther felt that she had passed and that this was a mistake. She demanded to be reexamined, but this was beneath the professor’s dignity, and he tried to distract her with various excuses, that he was hungry, etc. Esther replied that she would get him something to eat, and the other professors said she was in the right. The professor, after he finished his “feast,” started to examine her eagerly to show how right he had been in his first evaluation. But it didn’t help. She answered all the questions more than [simply] well. The other professors congratulated her with the words: “You’ve won.” After this she studied three years, until she completed the full course. During this time she also studied to be a mid-wife. On her graduation from the university she received [the offer of] a title of nobility and also an offer to teach in the Gymnasium, but only on the condition that she would convert. She did not want to do this, and thus she “sanctified the Name of Israel.”

She thought of opening a private Gymnasium. At that time the Brotherhood was organized. Her brother Lazar decided to give up all the benefits of living in Russia, and he emigrated to America with the Balta group in 1882. As hard as the life of an immigrant was here in the beginning, he never gave up, never went back. On the contrary, he, together with Herman Rosenthal, editor of a daily in Kiev, established a colony in Dakota, where much free land could be had from the state. Their colony failed and Lazar had to make a living carrying stones to a [new] college being built in a neighboring city, where he was later offered a professorship.50 That was the custom in America! He also later persuaded Esther to leave Russia and come here, which she finally did in 1884. She brought her mother with her and soon was working at a sewing machine. She refused to go on studying; she had come here to live by working. As mentioned earlier, she started a cooperative shop with three others. In a short time Lazar called her to come to Dakota, where she became a teacher of German at the college where he taught. I was to come there later, to be a Hebrew teacher, and also a farmer, as had been my wish throughout. This was in the autumn of 1885. My friend Bakal was living in Alliance, and I came here to say goodbye to him. He said the trip [West] wasn’t worth the expense and that I should use my money to buy a farm in Alliance and bring Esther here. This is what I did.

Esther came in the spring of 1886. We slowly began settling ourselves on a vacant farm, covered with brush which grew from the woods which had just been cleared away. The landlord bought the tract of land from the colony for one dollar an acre, along with the forest. He chopped down the forest [and] shipped out the wood to be made into lumber with which he built little houses for us at $150 per house; for the land he charged $15 an acre. The Alliance Israélite Universelle helped us pay, and so we began our family life.

Three daughters were born to us there, and our youngest was an only son. Now the first-born has already been a doctor for thirty years.51 She already has a daughter who is a doctor. My second daughter became a famous teacher, married a doctor, and has three sons, two of whom will also be doctors and one a professor. All are graduates of Harvard College. One daughter of mine is in New York, a real estate broker, and my son is a textile chemist, a very successful man.

Esther died on the 8th of the [autumnal] Hebrew month Cheshvon of 1940, after we had lived together for almost fifty-five years. Her principle in life had been that no one owed her anything, and that she must simply work for the necessities of life. At the end she asked that I arrange no ceremonies. She had lived simply and died simply. On her gravestone I aksed to have inscribed: “My saintly Esther rests here.” It is already four years,* and all who knew her bless her. She was a woman of great beauty, wise, strong-willed, and honest. She served our town as secretary of the Women’s Club. She was a good sister to everyone, had been a correspondent for Yiddish newspapers, and left many writings. She followed the advice of Koheles [the biblical Ecclesiastes]: “Be careful not to make books without end.” Among the colonists one who stood out was Mr. Moishe Baum [sic, Judah Moses Bayuk?52] from Bialystok, a very learned man. He left five books [among them] Or Toras Moshe (“The Light of the Torah of Moses”). Other fine families were the Altermans of Warsaw, the Lipmans, and the Rosases, who have a writ of family lineage that goes back to [the tenth-century Babylonian sage] Saadia Gaon. In my sixty years of life here, I can say to my credit that I remembered the maxim of our sages, “One who despises gifts shall live,” and the prayer, “not to be reduced to needing gifts from others.” I never willingly laid eyes on gifts, easy earnings; I gratefully accepted only what our poor South Jersey earth would provide. I cleared forty-four acres of land, developed it well, raised children [who are] not in any way inferior to any professional in the city, served our town, always stood up for them to the German Jews, occasionally got a shove from our Christian neighbors “out of eternal hate for the eternal people” (Mèsinas olom Yam Olom).

In the first years it happened that our bunch had broken up. Bakal, Schwartz, Katsovey, [and] Feffer soon died. Spivakovsky, Seldes, Peisochovitch left. And I remained here alone of the whole company. This is how Abe Cahan recommended me to Morris Winchevsky, of blessed memory.53 I am the only one who remained faithful to the ideal of the Brotherhood (Am Olam). We used to act as correspondents for the Yiddish newspapers. I became friendly with Moishe Mintz54 from the Biluim (a student movement for agricultural settlement in Palestine which originated after the 1881 pogroms),* editor of the Folkszeitung, and with Mr. Getzl Zelikovitz, editor of Der Yiddisher Farmer. They were writing “songs of praises” about us in all the Yiddish and Anglo-Jewish newspapers—people like Dovid Galter, Mr. Druk Zusman, and more than all of them, [my] friend A. Litvin (S. I. Hurvitz) in the Morgen Journal [and] in the Yiddisher Kempfer. Recently Daniel Charny,55 in the Tog, used his column to write profound articles on this subject [of farm colonies], and Mr. L. Berman, in other newspapers, wrote on Sixty Years of Jewish Farming. We were also inscribed in [the Jewish National Fund’s] Pinkes Ha-Zohov (“Golden Book”) in Jerusalem. The H.I.A.S. [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] honored us by immortalizing us on a copper plaque in their lobby. Also the English-language press gave us much coverage, often a whole page in the New York Herald and the New York Daily News. We also had a corner in the Congressional Record. Recently the government wrote about me in two newspapers and published my picture as the longest and oldest in service as a crop correspondent. Elizabeth Fraser wrote such a favorable report about our farming that a farmer from Pennsylvania wanted to give us a whole farm free. I carried on conespondence with such great men of Israel as Professor [Chaim] Chernovitz, and Rabbi Levi [Louis] Feinberg of Cincinnati.56 I also carried on a serious correspondence with great American liberals, with Elbert Hubbard, with Dr. Paul Carus of Chicago, etc.57

I never hid nor have been ashamed of being Jewish. In short, I do not deserve all the favors, all the acknowledgements and praises that fell to my share. [I am] a simple Jewish peasant, but one who had been privileged to be one of the fifty Am Olam partners, a pioneer among workers on the soil of [our people] Israel.

Shneur I. Bailey

Alliance, New Jersey

* Literally “baptism”—meaning the beginning of his deviation from the traditional path (his initiation into “free-thinking”).

* Lo yeheratz money (from Exod. 11:7 [“But against any of the children of Israel] not a dog shall snarl”).

* Here Froike’s reply in Russian is missing. What follows is not what he replied to his father, but a description of further events in America.

* Elisha ben Abuyah is nicknamed “Aher” (“the Other”) because he deviated from the tradition.

* Read on the mid-summer fast of Tishah Be’Av.

The “Sabbath of Repentance” before Yom Kippur (Atonement Day).

Special all-inclusive prayer book for women, entitled Meal Offering.

* Exod. 33:20.

After Ps. 35:14.

* After Jeremiah 2:14.

* Originally “tkheiles” meant the “blue thread” in the tsitsis (fringes) of the talis (prayer shawl) which makes the talis especially fine.

* Avotl:10.

“Minor Yeshivah”: most likely a government-sponsored Jewish seminary with secular subjects, set up with the assistance of the Haskalah (Enlightenment) movement.

* Jeremiah 2:14.

* Ritual slaughterers: hence, they belonged to the lower echelon of the religious officials of the Jewish community.

* This term originally implied a martyr’s death. The modern usage in Yiddish implies any selfless deed for a human cause. In regard to Jacob Bernstein, the term implies also his withstanding all the enticements of conversion to Christianity.

I.e., bitterly anti-Jewish (Deut. 25:17–19).

Disillusionment (see Eccles. 2:14, 3:19).

§ Government-sponsored school offering secular subjects.

* Mendele’s Yiddish drama, The Tax, is a bitter satire against the Jewish community leaders who would lay heavy taxes on kosher meat and become fat at the expense of the poor pious masses.

* Which gives us the date of writing of this memoir—1944.

A misquoting of Eccles. 12:12.

Based on Prov. 15:27.

* “Bilu” is a Hebrew acronym for the scripture verse: Bet Yaakov Lechu Venelcha (“House of Jacob, come you, let us go.” Isa. 2:5).

* Literally “baptism”—meaning the beginning of his deviation from the traditional path (his initiation into “free-thinking”).

* After Jeremiah 2:14.

* Originally “tkheiles” meant the “blue thread” in the tsitsis (fringes) of the talis (prayer shawl) which makes the talis especially fine.

* Avotl:10.

“Minor Yeshivah”: most likely a government-sponsored Jewish seminary with secular subjects, set up with the assistance of the Haskalah (Enlightenment) movement.

* Jeremiah 2:14.

* Ritual slaughterers: hence, they belonged to the lower echelon of the religious officials of the Jewish community.

* This term originally implied a martyr’s death. The modern usage in Yiddish implies any selfless deed for a human cause. In regard to Jacob Bernstein, the term implies also his withstanding all the enticements of conversion to Christianity.

I.e., bitterly anti-Jewish (Deut. 25:17–19).

Disillusionment (see Eccles. 2:14, 3:19).

§ Government-sponsored school offering secular subjects.

* Lo yeheratz money (from Exod. 11:7 [“But against any of the children of Israel] not a dog shall snarl”).

* Mendele’s Yiddish drama, The Tax, is a bitter satire against the Jewish community leaders who would lay heavy taxes on kosher meat and become fat at the expense of the poor pious masses.

* Which gives us the date of writing of this memoir—1944.

A misquoting of Eccles. 12:12.

Based on Prov. 15:27.

* “Bilu” is a Hebrew acronym for the scripture verse: Bet Yaakov Lechu Venelcha (“House of Jacob, come you, let us go.” Isa. 2:5).

* Here Froike’s reply in Russian is missing. What follows is not what he replied to his father, but a description of further events in America.

* Elisha ben Abuyah is nicknamed “Aher” (“the Other”) because he deviated from the tradition.

* Read on the mid-summer fast of Tishah Be’Av.

The “Sabbath of Repentance” before Yom Kippur (Atonement Day).

Special all-inclusive prayer book for women, entitled Meal Offering.

* Exod. 33:20.

After Ps. 35:14.

I became friendly with Yehoshua Rebbe Sirky [sic, Ravnitzky] in early youth.5 Orphaned in early childhood by the death of his mother, he had no place of his own and lived with us. He was a few years my senior. He had already made the acquaintance of Moshel [Moshe Leib Lilienblum], and through him I too met Moshel. 6 A cheder-chum of mine, Susel Schnitkover, “the Red,” saw me with Moshel and told on me at minchoh [“the afternoon worship service”], before the worshippers in the bes-hamidrosh [“synagogue”]. Do you know that Reb Shlome’s son hangs around with [an unbeliever like] Moshel! A pair of hot-headed fanatics grabbed me by the collar, threw me out of the bes-hamidrosh, and soaked me with wash-basin water. A. Litvin (Sh. Hurvitz),7 of blessed memory, wrote about this [incident] that here I received my first ritual purification with water.* At my bar mitzvah, when I said a pilpul [expounded a talmudic discourse] from toras kohanim [Leviticus], my father of blessed memory, gave me a set of Talmud as a gift.

[I want to speak of] my relationship with Yehoshua Ravnitzky, “a friend like a brother to me,” who worked faithfully for seventy years in the field of our literature. Yehoshua had been orphaned by his mother at a very early age. We had met at the bes-hamidrosh. He was all alone, and so became a frequent and very welcome visitor at our house. He remained [virtually] a member of our household for many years, even after I left for America. He would visit my parents and comfort them. Yehoshua was a bit older than I by exactly how much I don’t know. He was the more progressive of the two of us and we treated each other like close friends. He was the one who brought me closer to Moshel. We studied together in the bes-hamidrosh and ate dry rolls and baked potatoes. In these early times I became acquainted with Moshe Freeman, with the Zhypnik brothers, full orphans [fatherless and motherless], in whose house we had many good times, and with other fine buddies and good students. Freeman was married very young, according to custom. He married and lived through pogroms in Odessa, suffered greatly, according to the verse: “A Jew is a slave and scorned.”* He joined the Brotherhood, actively participated in it, and left for America with the first party in February 1882. He came here, became a farmer for a short time, but could not put up with the hardships of changing from a yeshiva and bes-hamidrosh student to a farmer, an occupation unknown to his fathers and forefathers through all the years of their Exile.

[I want to discuss] my connection with Moni Bakal. He was all “purity,”* the heart and soul of the Brotherhood. When I met him in Elul (late summer) of 1879 at a wedding, he was already suffering for an ideal. Bakal was a rare gem, whose father was mentor and educator at the home of the millionaire Toltchinsky, a sugar-magnate in Uman, Kiev province. Bakal was the son-in-law of the rabbi of Ternivke, not far from Balta, and received as a dowry rights to four positions in addition to a beauty of a woman, the rabbi’s daughter. She bore him a son when he was barely eight [sic, eighteen]. Shortly after the wedding the rabbi issued Bakal a writ of divorcement [because he considered Bakal an unbeliever] and the episode ended. Bakal told me that even as a boy he loved to scrutinize the scriptural texts. He would wonder at the words “said Elohim.” Amar (“said”) is in the singular, while Elohim (“God”) is a plural noun. He would hide a volume of philosophy under his Gemoreh and steal a peek at it. He meditated upon the maxim of the Ethics of the Fathers: “Love work and hate the office of the Rabbi.”*

[I want to discuss] my connection with Moni Bakal. He was all “purity,”* the heart and soul of the Brotherhood. When I met him in Elul (late summer) of 1879 at a wedding, he was already suffering for an ideal. Bakal was a rare gem, whose father was mentor and educator at the home of the millionaire Toltchinsky, a sugar-magnate in Uman, Kiev province. Bakal was the son-in-law of the rabbi of Ternivke, not far from Balta, and received as a dowry rights to four positions in addition to a beauty of a woman, the rabbi’s daughter. She bore him a son when he was barely eight [sic, eighteen]. Shortly after the wedding the rabbi issued Bakal a writ of divorcement [because he considered Bakal an unbeliever] and the episode ended. Bakal told me that even as a boy he loved to scrutinize the scriptural texts. He would wonder at the words “said Elohim.” Amar (“said”) is in the singular, while Elohim (“God”) is a plural noun. He would hide a volume of philosophy under his Gemoreh and steal a peek at it. He meditated upon the maxim of the Ethics of the Fathers: “Love work and hate the office of the Rabbi.”*

In the meantime I became a licensed teacher and taught in a school [called] Malenki Yeshibot, where students studied without paying. Only Moshel was paid. Through his acquaintance I became a frequent visitor to the university, where I was a non-paying auditor of [lectures by] Prof. Eli Metchnikov and other liberal professors.33

In March, 1881, Alexander II was assassinated, and he was succeeded by his cruel son [Alexander III], who sought revenge for the ugly death of his father. Pogroms against the Jews were the most proven means of action, so horrible pogroms occurred in southern Russia during Easter week. We sensitive Jewish students were embittered. We laid aside our studies and began to think of how we could aid the community in its slavish position. Is the “Jew a slave to be scorned?”* We petitioned Petersburg for land to establish a colony in Kherson Province. This was completely refused. At that time a professor, well known in Odessa, had purportedly published a book about the joys of farming in the United States.34 Travelling in our area at that time were agents to recruit emigrants; they gave birth to a movement to leave Step-Mother Russia and go to America, the land of democracy, to be Jewish farmers there, and perhaps even to build our own state, like the Mormans’ state of “Utah.” Our state would be built on humanitarian principles, such as already existed there. Bakal threw himself wholeheartedly into this movement with all he possessed. The few hundred (rubles) of his savings he put into the common fund, and for a long time he subsisted on bread and tea. One episode: It happened that Bakal’s father paid a visit to Odessa to see his fine son. The father came to his lodgings and found a bunch of pranksters—his son’s good friends. Bakal wore a short coat and long hair, and his friends wore their shirts over their pants, in gentile fashion. We saw in him (Bakal’s father) a fine subject to ridicule. We were all embittered over cheder [and were] against the practices laid down in the Talmud, and we discussed Jewishness with the old man. We were aware of the fact that we were hurting the old man, very much so, with our objections to and criticisms of the Jewish code. I confess that I told him that in addition to our dissatisfaction with tradition, Talmud, Shulchan Aruch [a sixteenth-century rabbinic law code still considered authoritative by Orthodox Jews], customs and laws, we even had some serious disagreements with the Toras Moshe [Law of Moses: the Pentateuch]. At this the old man gave a deep sigh and said naively and painfully: It is pitiful to see how such fine noble souls are drowning. . . . It would have been more pleasant to take a slap in the face from the old man than to hear these words. I then made a vow to “be careful with my words.” In the meantime the Brotherhood (Am Olam) had become widely known in the town and in the university. More students joined these folks in their time of need. At this time the word “career” was regarded with loathing by the students. Because while one was studying there could be no talk of careers. One should not even mention it and thus avoid the contempt of friends. Frei-ibergegebene-dienst (literally, “voluntary dedicated service”) was our key-word. Some of them were: Max Rabinovitz [known as?], Ben-Ami,35 a descendant of shochtim* Simon (his family name escapes me just now), and Konstantin Fritz. He [Fritz] later became the head doctor in a large Jewish hospital; he had received a 50,000-ruble dowry, but ended up starving in Berlin when the Bolsheviks took power in Russia. Yegor Shabshovitz, Gortenshtein, [and] Brody [were] among many others [involved in the struggle]. Also Balta with my brother-in-law Mashbir at the head, Kiev with Nikolai Oleynikov at the head, Krementchug with Chaim Spivakovsky, Poltava with Israel Isser Katsovey [Kasovich],36—[all] with a membership in the thousands. I also made the acquaintance of Jacob Cohen Bernstein, brother of Lev Cohen Bernstein, the famous revolutionary, who was dragged from his sick-bed and led to the gallows.37 Jacob was an easy-going sort who had studied in Kiev University to become a mathematics teacher in a Gymnasium. He did not balk at the fact that he would have to convert. But when Lev became notorious as [a revolutionary and thus cast] a stigma on the family, Jacob was expelled from his class and forbidden to study anywhere in Russia.

In March, 1881, Alexander II was assassinated, and he was succeeded by his cruel son [Alexander III], who sought revenge for the ugly death of his father. Pogroms against the Jews were the most proven means of action, so horrible pogroms occurred in southern Russia during Easter week. We sensitive Jewish students were embittered. We laid aside our studies and began to think of how we could aid the community in its slavish position. Is the “Jew a slave to be scorned?”* We petitioned Petersburg for land to establish a colony in Kherson Province. This was completely refused. At that time a professor, well known in Odessa, had purportedly published a book about the joys of farming in the United States.34 Travelling in our area at that time were agents to recruit emigrants; they gave birth to a movement to leave Step-Mother Russia and go to America, the land of democracy, to be Jewish farmers there, and perhaps even to build our own state, like the Mormans’ state of “Utah.” Our state would be built on humanitarian principles, such as already existed there. Bakal threw himself wholeheartedly into this movement with all he possessed. The few hundred (rubles) of his savings he put into the common fund, and for a long time he subsisted on bread and tea. One episode: It happened that Bakal’s father paid a visit to Odessa to see his fine son. The father came to his lodgings and found a bunch of pranksters—his son’s good friends. Bakal wore a short coat and long hair, and his friends wore their shirts over their pants, in gentile fashion. We saw in him (Bakal’s father) a fine subject to ridicule. We were all embittered over cheder [and were] against the practices laid down in the Talmud, and we discussed Jewishness with the old man. We were aware of the fact that we were hurting the old man, very much so, with our objections to and criticisms of the Jewish code. I confess that I told him that in addition to our dissatisfaction with tradition, Talmud, Shulchan Aruch [a sixteenth-century rabbinic law code still considered authoritative by Orthodox Jews], customs and laws, we even had some serious disagreements with the Toras Moshe [Law of Moses: the Pentateuch]. At this the old man gave a deep sigh and said naively and painfully: It is pitiful to see how such fine noble souls are drowning. . . . It would have been more pleasant to take a slap in the face from the old man than to hear these words. I then made a vow to “be careful with my words.” In the meantime the Brotherhood (Am Olam) had become widely known in the town and in the university. More students joined these folks in their time of need. At this time the word “career” was regarded with loathing by the students. Because while one was studying there could be no talk of careers. One should not even mention it and thus avoid the contempt of friends. Frei-ibergegebene-dienst (literally, “voluntary dedicated service”) was our key-word. Some of them were: Max Rabinovitz [known as?], Ben-Ami,35 a descendant of shochtim* Simon (his family name escapes me just now), and Konstantin Fritz. He [Fritz] later became the head doctor in a large Jewish hospital; he had received a 50,000-ruble dowry, but ended up starving in Berlin when the Bolsheviks took power in Russia. Yegor Shabshovitz, Gortenshtein, [and] Brody [were] among many others [involved in the struggle]. Also Balta with my brother-in-law Mashbir at the head, Kiev with Nikolai Oleynikov at the head, Krementchug with Chaim Spivakovsky, Poltava with Israel Isser Katsovey [Kasovich],36—[all] with a membership in the thousands. I also made the acquaintance of Jacob Cohen Bernstein, brother of Lev Cohen Bernstein, the famous revolutionary, who was dragged from his sick-bed and led to the gallows.37 Jacob was an easy-going sort who had studied in Kiev University to become a mathematics teacher in a Gymnasium. He did not balk at the fact that he would have to convert. But when Lev became notorious as [a revolutionary and thus cast] a stigma on the family, Jacob was expelled from his class and forbidden to study anywhere in Russia.

M. Bakal would address meetings and prepare texts for leaflets which we would reproduce and print in the university labs, which was a kind of state within a state, where the police had no right to enter. . . . Although no Jew should be an “accuser” against the Congregation of Israel, nevertheless I must relate several sad facts. Jewish society showed no concern about “What will the non-Jews say.” Professor Philipov, who alone carried the expenses of the publication, never received a penny in return for his three volumes, What Is a Jew? Jacob Cohen Bernstein, after he had “sanctified the Name,”* served the Brotherhood (Am Olam) with great self-sacrifice for several years. He later became a good doctor and served in Kishinev during the years of the First World War. And when [after World War I] Kishinev became a part of Rumania—[those people] from the seed of Amalek —Jacob Cohen Bernstein went to Eretz Yisroel [Palestine], where he received no recognition for many years, and after much hardship returned to Soviet Russia, where he died shortly thereafter. Jacob Cohen Bernstein was also the right hand of Theodor Herzl, may he rest in peace. Both had the same end.

M. Bakal would address meetings and prepare texts for leaflets which we would reproduce and print in the university labs, which was a kind of state within a state, where the police had no right to enter. . . . Although no Jew should be an “accuser” against the Congregation of Israel, nevertheless I must relate several sad facts. Jewish society showed no concern about “What will the non-Jews say.” Professor Philipov, who alone carried the expenses of the publication, never received a penny in return for his three volumes, What Is a Jew? Jacob Cohen Bernstein, after he had “sanctified the Name,”* served the Brotherhood (Am Olam) with great self-sacrifice for several years. He later became a good doctor and served in Kishinev during the years of the First World War. And when [after World War I] Kishinev became a part of Rumania—[those people] from the seed of Amalek —Jacob Cohen Bernstein went to Eretz Yisroel [Palestine], where he received no recognition for many years, and after much hardship returned to Soviet Russia, where he died shortly thereafter. Jacob Cohen Bernstein was also the right hand of Theodor Herzl, may he rest in peace. Both had the same end.

M. Bakal would address meetings and prepare texts for leaflets which we would reproduce and print in the university labs, which was a kind of state within a state, where the police had no right to enter. . . . Although no Jew should be an “accuser” against the Congregation of Israel, nevertheless I must relate several sad facts. Jewish society showed no concern about “What will the non-Jews say.” Professor Philipov, who alone carried the expenses of the publication, never received a penny in return for his three volumes, What Is a Jew? Jacob Cohen Bernstein, after he had “sanctified the Name,”* served the Brotherhood (Am Olam) with great self-sacrifice for several years. He later became a good doctor and served in Kishinev during the years of the First World War. And when [after World War I] Kishinev became a part of Rumania—[those people] from the seed of Amalek —Jacob Cohen Bernstein went to Eretz Yisroel [Palestine], where he received no recognition for many years, and after much hardship returned to Soviet Russia, where he died shortly thereafter. Jacob Cohen Bernstein was also the right hand of Theodor Herzl, may he rest in peace. Both had the same end.

The representatives of that cirle of Brotherhood members in Nikolayev were: Paul Kaplan, who later took up studies in medicine here and became an M.D., distinguishing himself thereby. He ran the New Odessa commune in Oregon. There was also Jacob Peisochovitch—child and son-in-law of rich men, graduate of the “Real-Schule,”§ he and his wife Chaya were fascinated by the Brotherhood.39 Another, Z. Rosenblith, we took great pains to protect from the police, so that no unfriendly eye should fall upon him. We disguised him in women’s clothes on his leaving Russia. The emigrants were all of Jewish stock: students, who were under the surveillance of the police. There were also adventurers, fortune [hunters] and bread seekers; there were also many idealists wishing to become self-sufficient and help others to become farmers and wash away the stain of the belief that Jews could not work the land, since they had not been permitted by the Russian government to do any farming.

My teacher advised my father to send me to a yeshiva [“rabbinical academy”], and this he did. For a full three years I had a taste of studying: “eating bread with salt and drinking water in limited measure” (Avot 6:4), “eating days” [taking meals with different families], etc.—and lying in dirt on the ground, suffering horribly [of] the third plague [lice] on Egypt in great abundance, as well as other plagues such as sores on my body. It’s a miracle I’m still alive. Finally I was caught by the mashgiach [“supervisor”] one evening, when he visited the yeshiva and the boys before bedtime. We were reading the [modernist pro-Hassidic] Sholom al Yisroel of Aaron Zvi Hakohen Zweifel [sic, Eliezer Zweifel], a teacher from the Zhitomir Rabbinical School.8 This was a sufficiently “heretical” book for that fanatic [supervisor] to decide to call a meeting the next day after minchoh [“the late afternoon prayer”] concerning the boy from Odessa. I was amazed to see that there had gathered together—or rather been herded together—all the yeshiva boys “that they might see and hear and avoid doing such a foul thing” [a Hebrew clause] and they began questioning me as though I were before the Inquisition. How did I get such a book?! To make a long story short, I spat and went back home immediately to Odessa. (Too sharp a knife doesn’t cut well; too strict supervision leads to no good.) And I became an infidel. To this day I am no advocate of yeshivas and haven’t a good word for any of them, not even those in this country. Neither the system of education nor the way of life of the bachelor-students [at a yeshiva] is right. It is injurious and dirty everywhere. At first, when I still wore a long kapote [“kaftan”] and peyes [“traditionally lengthy side-burns”], I was stared at as though I were some strange apparition. But I began to think it was ugly, so I put on a short coat, cut my peyes and began to wear a regular hat. A radical reform for me at that time! I looked up Yehoshua Ravnitzky, and found him a baal-tanach [“biblical scholar”] who wrote Hebrew according to the style of whatever book he happened to be studying at the time. And he was also studying higher mathematics from the Book of the Science of Geometry by the mathematician-engineer, Chaim Zelig Slonimsky, editor of [the Hebrew periodical] Hatzfirah.9 In fact, this would have ended my cheder and yeshiva period, in which I lived through more pain than joy from the good-for-nothing so-called teachers—with a few good exceptions, such as Rabbi Nachum Epstein, Rabbi Abraham Moshe, and the last rabbi of Odessa, Rabbi Moshe Leib. At that time, chadorim were forbidden in Russia, unless the rabbi passed an exam in Russian, which was at the time not usual among the Jewish communities in those places. The civil authorities would, from month to month, fall upon the yeshiva and drive the children out into the street, until they were bought off by the rabbis with a bribe (“no-bark-money”).* Also the method of instruction was not according to the verse “teach a child according to his ability” (Prov. 22:6).

Something worth recording from the lives of my deceased wife and from her brother. Their father was Rabbi Shlomo Mashbir. Shlomo Mashbir, by the way, was the model for the protagonist Vecker (the “arouser”) of [Sholom Jacob] Abramovitch’s drama, Die Takse (“The Tax”). [Abramovitch’s] pen name was Mendele Mocher Seforim (“Mendele the Bookseller”). Mendele was a family friend and an admirer of Rabbi Shlomo. Mashbir was a man of fine family, son of Rabbi Mordechai Mashbir, whom the city of Berditchev entrusted with the commission of bringing from Pinsk [the body of] Rabbi Levi Yitzchok, the greatest and most saintly soul after the [Hassidic founder] Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory.45 Rabbi Mordechai, the grandfather of my wife, had the honor of having his grave beside that of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok. Rabbi Shlomo Mashbir had semikhoh [certification] to be a rabbi, but without any claim to a [rabbinical] position, because he had no in with the tax collector, who would skin the hide of the poor.* R. Shlomo Mashbir pitied them. My future wife, Esther, was an only daughter, known in the whole city for her beauty and kindness, always modest and concerned for others. Since her childhood she had no enemy. When she was six years old, her father sent her to a modern government-supported school, where she was privileged to attend tuition-free. She was soon on the honor roll. There was a section in Berditchev known as the old city, where most of the Jewish institutions were located and where most of the orthodox and common folk lived. There were many batei-hamidroshim as well as the large synagogue where my cousin, Naphtali Balter, was cantor for many years. Later the famous cantor Nisan Belzer came there. Also living there was Reb Jacob Yossi Heilperin, a banker, a rich man but a devoted hosid [“pietist”], who prevented the liberal rabbinical school from being established in Berditchev. It was moved to Zhitomir, [a town] not far away but belonging to another province. The Mashbirs lived on the street where the shul was. There too lived Rabbi Yosef and other Jewish notables. In the newer part of town lived the newly rich, who had their own [more modern] choral-shul, with Cantor Bachman.46 They never stopped persecuting Heilperin, and ruined him completely. They established a school for girls, run by assimilated German Jewish women. My future father-in-law, Reb Shlomo Mashbir, had two sons and only one daughter, Esther. Reb Schlomo knew that the haskoleh47 [“the Haskalah, or intellectual enlightenment movement of the nineteenth century”] would reach their section of town, too, so he sent his boys to the state school and his little daughter to the “Pension,” as the girls’ school was called. His justification was that his children should at least be refined goyim [“gentiles”], not boors. The boys went to study at the Zhitomir Rabbinical School. Nothing came of the elder one, but the second, Lazar Mashbir, became an official and a journalist. He was also a friend of Karl Emil Franzos.48

Esther died on the 8th of the [autumnal] Hebrew month Cheshvon of 1940, after we had lived together for almost fifty-five years. Her principle in life had been that no one owed her anything, and that she must simply work for the necessities of life. At the end she asked that I arrange no ceremonies. She had lived simply and died simply. On her gravestone I aksed to have inscribed: “My saintly Esther rests here.” It is already four years,* and all who knew her bless her. She was a woman of great beauty, wise, strong-willed, and honest. She served our town as secretary of the Women’s Club. She was a good sister to everyone, had been a correspondent for Yiddish newspapers, and left many writings. She followed the advice of Koheles [the biblical Ecclesiastes]: “Be careful not to make books without end.” Among the colonists one who stood out was Mr. Moishe Baum [sic, Judah Moses Bayuk?52] from Bialystok, a very learned man. He left five books [among them] Or Toras Moshe (“The Light of the Torah of Moses”). Other fine families were the Altermans of Warsaw, the Lipmans, and the Rosases, who have a writ of family lineage that goes back to [the tenth-century Babylonian sage] Saadia Gaon. In my sixty years of life here, I can say to my credit that I remembered the maxim of our sages, “One who despises gifts shall live,” and the prayer, “not to be reduced to needing gifts from others.” I never willingly laid eyes on gifts, easy earnings; I gratefully accepted only what our poor South Jersey earth would provide. I cleared forty-four acres of land, developed it well, raised children [who are] not in any way inferior to any professional in the city, served our town, always stood up for them to the German Jews, occasionally got a shove from our Christian neighbors “out of eternal hate for the eternal people” (Mèsinas olom Yam Olom).

Esther died on the 8th of the [autumnal] Hebrew month Cheshvon of 1940, after we had lived together for almost fifty-five years. Her principle in life had been that no one owed her anything, and that she must simply work for the necessities of life. At the end she asked that I arrange no ceremonies. She had lived simply and died simply. On her gravestone I aksed to have inscribed: “My saintly Esther rests here.” It is already four years,* and all who knew her bless her. She was a woman of great beauty, wise, strong-willed, and honest. She served our town as secretary of the Women’s Club. She was a good sister to everyone, had been a correspondent for Yiddish newspapers, and left many writings. She followed the advice of Koheles [the biblical Ecclesiastes]: “Be careful not to make books without end.” Among the colonists one who stood out was Mr. Moishe Baum [sic, Judah Moses Bayuk?52] from Bialystok, a very learned man. He left five books [among them] Or Toras Moshe (“The Light of the Torah of Moses”). Other fine families were the Altermans of Warsaw, the Lipmans, and the Rosases, who have a writ of family lineage that goes back to [the tenth-century Babylonian sage] Saadia Gaon. In my sixty years of life here, I can say to my credit that I remembered the maxim of our sages, “One who despises gifts shall live,” and the prayer, “not to be reduced to needing gifts from others.” I never willingly laid eyes on gifts, easy earnings; I gratefully accepted only what our poor South Jersey earth would provide. I cleared forty-four acres of land, developed it well, raised children [who are] not in any way inferior to any professional in the city, served our town, always stood up for them to the German Jews, occasionally got a shove from our Christian neighbors “out of eternal hate for the eternal people” (Mèsinas olom Yam Olom).

Esther died on the 8th of the [autumnal] Hebrew month Cheshvon of 1940, after we had lived together for almost fifty-five years. Her principle in life had been that no one owed her anything, and that she must simply work for the necessities of life. At the end she asked that I arrange no ceremonies. She had lived simply and died simply. On her gravestone I aksed to have inscribed: “My saintly Esther rests here.” It is already four years,* and all who knew her bless her. She was a woman of great beauty, wise, strong-willed, and honest. She served our town as secretary of the Women’s Club. She was a good sister to everyone, had been a correspondent for Yiddish newspapers, and left many writings. She followed the advice of Koheles [the biblical Ecclesiastes]: “Be careful not to make books without end.” Among the colonists one who stood out was Mr. Moishe Baum [sic, Judah Moses Bayuk?52] from Bialystok, a very learned man. He left five books [among them] Or Toras Moshe (“The Light of the Torah of Moses”). Other fine families were the Altermans of Warsaw, the Lipmans, and the Rosases, who have a writ of family lineage that goes back to [the tenth-century Babylonian sage] Saadia Gaon. In my sixty years of life here, I can say to my credit that I remembered the maxim of our sages, “One who despises gifts shall live,” and the prayer, “not to be reduced to needing gifts from others.” I never willingly laid eyes on gifts, easy earnings; I gratefully accepted only what our poor South Jersey earth would provide. I cleared forty-four acres of land, developed it well, raised children [who are] not in any way inferior to any professional in the city, served our town, always stood up for them to the German Jews, occasionally got a shove from our Christian neighbors “out of eternal hate for the eternal people” (Mèsinas olom Yam Olom).

In the first years it happened that our bunch had broken up. Bakal, Schwartz, Katsovey, [and] Feffer soon died. Spivakovsky, Seldes, Peisochovitch left. And I remained here alone of the whole company. This is how Abe Cahan recommended me to Morris Winchevsky, of blessed memory.53 I am the only one who remained faithful to the ideal of the Brotherhood (Am Olam). We used to act as correspondents for the Yiddish newspapers. I became friendly with Moishe Mintz54 from the Biluim (a student movement for agricultural settlement in Palestine which originated after the 1881 pogroms),* editor of the Folkszeitung, and with Mr. Getzl Zelikovitz, editor of Der Yiddisher Farmer. They were writing “songs of praises” about us in all the Yiddish and Anglo-Jewish newspapers—people like Dovid Galter, Mr. Druk Zusman, and more than all of them, [my] friend A. Litvin (S. I. Hurvitz) in the Morgen Journal [and] in the Yiddisher Kempfer. Recently Daniel Charny,55 in the Tog, used his column to write profound articles on this subject [of farm colonies], and Mr. L. Berman, in other newspapers, wrote on Sixty Years of Jewish Farming. We were also inscribed in [the Jewish National Fund’s] Pinkes Ha-Zohov (“Golden Book”) in Jerusalem. The H.I.A.S. [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] honored us by immortalizing us on a copper plaque in their lobby. Also the English-language press gave us much coverage, often a whole page in the New York Herald and the New York Daily News. We also had a corner in the Congressional Record. Recently the government wrote about me in two newspapers and published my picture as the longest and oldest in service as a crop correspondent. Elizabeth Fraser wrote such a favorable report about our farming that a farmer from Pennsylvania wanted to give us a whole farm free. I carried on conespondence with such great men of Israel as Professor [Chaim] Chernovitz, and Rabbi Levi [Louis] Feinberg of Cincinnati.56 I also carried on a serious correspondence with great American liberals, with Elbert Hubbard, with Dr. Paul Carus of Chicago, etc.57

I can add a chapter about our neighbors, Hirsch and Elka Rabinovitz. They were flour merchants with three sons and one daughter—Ephraim-Froike, Yudele, [daughter] Leike, who later administered the Pasteur Institute in Paris,12 and Zusele, whose brilliant mind made him a banker and competitor with Wall Street magnates, who forced him to leave America. Actually, the mother was the wise one, the brilliant one, while the father was a simple man. Three children took after the exceptional mother, one after the father. I came to know the household as a boy, and would play little “baubles & beads” games with them. All the children were strong-willed. It once happened that Froike installed a pigeon coop, and one pigeon broke something in the house. When the mother came home from the store, little Leike tattled on him to her mother, who either admonished or punished him. From that time on Froike wouldn’t talk to his little sister, who used to take care of him in his mother’s absence. Somewhat later, Froike and I were racing each other [to see] who could read the Megilla [“Book of Esther”] or the sedro [“weekly pentateuchal portion”] more beautifully for his mother, and in the shul [“synagogue”]. That is how I became a baal-koreh [“a public reader of the weekly Torah portion”]. Froike went to study at the School of Commerce. He knew Hebrew, and together we would sing Ha-Chemloh (“Mercy”) and other songs of Adam Ha-Cohen Lebensohn.13 When I joined [the] “Am Olam” [movement], I got him interested too.14 He decided to give up his studies and come to America. There, being alone, he met a family he knew called Weitzman, from the Kiev “Am Olam” group, and fell in love with one of their daughters, whom he wished to marry. He asked for two hundred dollars from his father in Odessa. His father sent only half of it. Froike answered his father in Russian.*

As I said before, I left yeshiva feeling insulted, but not being by nature a bad-tempered or spiteful man, I did not react like [the theologically atheistical or radical] Elisha ben Abuyah of old,* or like the latter-day “Other” [Lilienblum].22 No, I got together with Ravnitzky and sharpened my mind on the mathematical problems in Hatzfirah, and thus was introduced to the camp of Hebrew writers—Yiddish no one even mentioned!

Funkel’s brother was touched by the modern ways; [he was] a maskil [“emancipated intellectual”]. He had traded in the Balkans in 1876, during the Turkish War. He dressed in modern fashion, and certainly did not observe kashrus [“the traditional dietary laws”] on his travels. I recall that we both left the main synagogue the same summer in which he later got married, and after the [reading of the biblical book of] Lamentations,* we met down by a soda kiosk to have a drink. I warned him that this was not a proper way for a bridegroom of Rabbi Dovidl to act, because many people came from Balta to Odessa on business. He laughed it off, but at his wedding they dressed him up in all the traditional attire: a kitl [“a white robe”] and a long kaftan. He was led through the streets to and from the synagogue with a drum. He wrote me that at Balta during the ten days of penitence [between the Jewish new year and the Atonement fast] in the main synagogue, where the rabbi usually prayed, they gave him maftir [let him conclude the biblical readings with the prescribed passage from the Prophet Hosea] on Shabbos Shuvo, a great honor in Israel. And how amazed I was when the oldest daughter Brocho—a divorcee (the rebitzin [“rabbi’s wife”] was already dead by then)—presented me with [a copy of] Chatos Neurim (“Sins of Youth”) by Moshel [Lilienblum]. Sabbath morning she goes to shul with a thick Korban Minchoh siddur and a shawl over her eyes, and on her way back from davenen [“prayer”] she would pay a visit to a certain maskil. Here I saw her take off her head covering and sit with two long braids hanging down to her shoulders. The second son-in-law of the Balter rabbi was a spiteful one. He would send his Jewish servantgirl to market for milk, and his gentile one for wine at the Jewish tavern-keeper’s. At his wedding I first met my brother-in-law-to-be, Lazar Mashbir.24 He was dressed like one of those Russian officials who steal children from rich parents and send them to a Gymnasium, thus greatly grieving the parents. Since the rabbi’s daughters were intelligent, they moved in maskil circles. So the maskilim were also at the wedding, where I met many of them, but I made life-long friends only of some of them who greatly influenced my early life. Reb Mordechai Voskoboinik married a girl from the Balta region; he was learned and clever, but far too honest. He came to Odessa a bit later to take a position as bookkeeper for a wholesaler. That is what we called a businessman who bought and sold grain, groceries, etc., to the small-town businessmen and salesmen of the region. Reb Mordechai Voskoboinik understood Russian too, but could not speak it well. A bit later I taught Russian to such a group. Reb Mordechai later came here with the Brotherhood. He, his wife, and small son set up a tailor shop until they arrived in the place of their desire, the [New Jersey] colony of Carmel. There he continued tailoring until he became a grocer. He told me that as long as he was a tailor, he had a reputation as a good and honest man, but as soon as he became a grocer, his customers, who buy readily on credit but pay back with great difficulties, said he was a thief.

Funkel’s brother was touched by the modern ways; [he was] a maskil [“emancipated intellectual”]. He had traded in the Balkans in 1876, during the Turkish War. He dressed in modern fashion, and certainly did not observe kashrus [“the traditional dietary laws”] on his travels. I recall that we both left the main synagogue the same summer in which he later got married, and after the [reading of the biblical book of] Lamentations,* we met down by a soda kiosk to have a drink. I warned him that this was not a proper way for a bridegroom of Rabbi Dovidl to act, because many people came from Balta to Odessa on business. He laughed it off, but at his wedding they dressed him up in all the traditional attire: a kitl [“a white robe”] and a long kaftan. He was led through the streets to and from the synagogue with a drum. He wrote me that at Balta during the ten days of penitence [between the Jewish new year and the Atonement fast] in the main synagogue, where the rabbi usually prayed, they gave him maftir [let him conclude the biblical readings with the prescribed passage from the Prophet Hosea] on Shabbos Shuvo, a great honor in Israel. And how amazed I was when the oldest daughter Brocho—a divorcee (the rebitzin [“rabbi’s wife”] was already dead by then)—presented me with [a copy of] Chatos Neurim (“Sins of Youth”) by Moshel [Lilienblum]. Sabbath morning she goes to shul with a thick Korban Minchoh siddur and a shawl over her eyes, and on her way back from davenen [“prayer”] she would pay a visit to a certain maskil. Here I saw her take off her head covering and sit with two long braids hanging down to her shoulders. The second son-in-law of the Balter rabbi was a spiteful one. He would send his Jewish servantgirl to market for milk, and his gentile one for wine at the Jewish tavern-keeper’s. At his wedding I first met my brother-in-law-to-be, Lazar Mashbir.24 He was dressed like one of those Russian officials who steal children from rich parents and send them to a Gymnasium, thus greatly grieving the parents. Since the rabbi’s daughters were intelligent, they moved in maskil circles. So the maskilim were also at the wedding, where I met many of them, but I made life-long friends only of some of them who greatly influenced my early life. Reb Mordechai Voskoboinik married a girl from the Balta region; he was learned and clever, but far too honest. He came to Odessa a bit later to take a position as bookkeeper for a wholesaler. That is what we called a businessman who bought and sold grain, groceries, etc., to the small-town businessmen and salesmen of the region. Reb Mordechai Voskoboinik understood Russian too, but could not speak it well. A bit later I taught Russian to such a group. Reb Mordechai later came here with the Brotherhood. He, his wife, and small son set up a tailor shop until they arrived in the place of their desire, the [New Jersey] colony of Carmel. There he continued tailoring until he became a grocer. He told me that as long as he was a tailor, he had a reputation as a good and honest man, but as soon as he became a grocer, his customers, who buy readily on credit but pay back with great difficulties, said he was a thief.

Funkel’s brother was touched by the modern ways; [he was] a maskil [“emancipated intellectual”]. He had traded in the Balkans in 1876, during the Turkish War. He dressed in modern fashion, and certainly did not observe kashrus [“the traditional dietary laws”] on his travels. I recall that we both left the main synagogue the same summer in which he later got married, and after the [reading of the biblical book of] Lamentations,* we met down by a soda kiosk to have a drink. I warned him that this was not a proper way for a bridegroom of Rabbi Dovidl to act, because many people came from Balta to Odessa on business. He laughed it off, but at his wedding they dressed him up in all the traditional attire: a kitl [“a white robe”] and a long kaftan. He was led through the streets to and from the synagogue with a drum. He wrote me that at Balta during the ten days of penitence [between the Jewish new year and the Atonement fast] in the main synagogue, where the rabbi usually prayed, they gave him maftir [let him conclude the biblical readings with the prescribed passage from the Prophet Hosea] on Shabbos Shuvo, a great honor in Israel. And how amazed I was when the oldest daughter Brocho—a divorcee (the rebitzin [“rabbi’s wife”] was already dead by then)—presented me with [a copy of] Chatos Neurim (“Sins of Youth”) by Moshel [Lilienblum]. Sabbath morning she goes to shul with a thick Korban Minchoh siddur and a shawl over her eyes, and on her way back from davenen [“prayer”] she would pay a visit to a certain maskil. Here I saw her take off her head covering and sit with two long braids hanging down to her shoulders. The second son-in-law of the Balter rabbi was a spiteful one. He would send his Jewish servantgirl to market for milk, and his gentile one for wine at the Jewish tavern-keeper’s. At his wedding I first met my brother-in-law-to-be, Lazar Mashbir.24 He was dressed like one of those Russian officials who steal children from rich parents and send them to a Gymnasium, thus greatly grieving the parents. Since the rabbi’s daughters were intelligent, they moved in maskil circles. So the maskilim were also at the wedding, where I met many of them, but I made life-long friends only of some of them who greatly influenced my early life. Reb Mordechai Voskoboinik married a girl from the Balta region; he was learned and clever, but far too honest. He came to Odessa a bit later to take a position as bookkeeper for a wholesaler. That is what we called a businessman who bought and sold grain, groceries, etc., to the small-town businessmen and salesmen of the region. Reb Mordechai Voskoboinik understood Russian too, but could not speak it well. A bit later I taught Russian to such a group. Reb Mordechai later came here with the Brotherhood. He, his wife, and small son set up a tailor shop until they arrived in the place of their desire, the [New Jersey] colony of Carmel. There he continued tailoring until he became a grocer. He told me that as long as he was a tailor, he had a reputation as a good and honest man, but as soon as he became a grocer, his customers, who buy readily on credit but pay back with great difficulties, said he was a thief.

Here is another episode from that period. The “Saul of Tarsus,” Jacob Gordin,27 made his appearance in Odessa at that time, with the teacher Priluker as his main supporter. They had a brand-new group: “Yevreiskoye Bratstvo” (“the Jewish Brotherhood”), which rapidly gained a following among the Jewish lower classes, the downtrodden, and the socially rejected tailors and shoemakers. One Friday evening, Moshel, Ravnitzky, and I visited Gordin to talk about [his] “Bratstvo.” Gordin, very rude and very egotistical, told us to leave, without letting us utter a word. Moshel too reacted to this incident in several of the articles he wrote, in Russian and in Hebrew. Moshel had learned to read and understand Russian well, though he had trouble speaking it. He never acquired the proper accent; he would speak like a Lithuanian [Jew] who says Savuos for Shavuos. Often, Moshel would read his articles to the two of us. When I became a licensed teacher, Moshel was a friend and colleague of mine. In these schools he taught religion, and I, arithmetic. We would see each other often at other times. And in the summer of 1881, when the [Am Olam] Brotherhood grew better known following the terrible Passover pogroms in South Russia and the Ukraine, I met with Moshel and spoke with him about the Brotherhood. He said to me, as if “in spite,” that if he had to leave home—till the very end he spoke of “Mother Russia”—why did it have to be across the ocean, as far as to America, and not to Palestine. And thus Moshel had the honor of becoming the founder of the [proto-Zionist] “Love of Zion” [movement]. Lilienblum was then earning very little. He would get ten rubles a month for teaching and a miserable pittance for his writings—a bit more for Russian than for Hebrew articles. He lived in extreme poverty with his wife, a butcher’s daughter, who would earn “water for their kasha” [“water in which to cook their groats” = very little money] by repairing torn rubber shoes, in this way helping to support quite a large family of ten people. At that time, when I would visit his house, until the end of the year 1884 Moshel still remained a heretic—he continued behaving like “Aher” [Elisha ben Abuyah], even when not intentionally, perhaps out of habit. It did not bother him that his wife went to the synagogue on the High Holy Days [in the fall—New Year and Atonement Day], and he would remain at home, reading, writing, and receiving me and others who could discuss matters of interest to him. As is known, the assimilated “Pogrebalni Obshchestvo” [“funeral society”] employed him as secretary and paid him better than “our brothers” (meaning: the religious establishments) pay their officials. And this same Moshel later became one of the regular members of the minyan [“worship quorum”] of the Yavneh Synagogue; and [I remember] the way Moshel later used to be called for an aliyoh [synagogual Torah reading], and would read a Haftoroh [prophetic portion] with so much feeling, although the modern Elisha ben Abuyah could not become reincarnated into a [theologically orthodox] Rabbi Akiba28 . . . Darwin was asked, in his old age, if he still stuck to his theory of “evolution” and answered the same as Moses did when he thought about the mystery of Creation, “Show me, I beg of You, Your glory.” This “secret” is not to be explained “for no man may see me and live.”* Albert Einstein gave the same reply at greater length. Moshel could not change his mind; he did what he did only to please the community.

[I want to speak of] my relationship with Yehoshua Ravnitzky, “a friend like a brother to me,” who worked faithfully for seventy years in the field of our literature. Yehoshua had been orphaned by his mother at a very early age. We had met at the bes-hamidrosh. He was all alone, and so became a frequent and very welcome visitor at our house. He remained [virtually] a member of our household for many years, even after I left for America. He would visit my parents and comfort them. Yehoshua was a bit older than I by exactly how much I don’t know. He was the more progressive of the two of us and we treated each other like close friends. He was the one who brought me closer to Moshel. We studied together in the bes-hamidrosh and ate dry rolls and baked potatoes. In these early times I became acquainted with Moshe Freeman, with the Zhypnik brothers, full orphans [fatherless and motherless], in whose house we had many good times, and with other fine buddies and good students. Freeman was married very young, according to custom. He married and lived through pogroms in Odessa, suffered greatly, according to the verse: “A Jew is a slave and scorned.”* He joined the Brotherhood, actively participated in it, and left for America with the first party in February 1882. He came here, became a farmer for a short time, but could not put up with the hardships of changing from a yeshiva and bes-hamidrosh student to a farmer, an occupation unknown to his fathers and forefathers through all the years of their Exile.

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344644
Related ISBN
9780814344651
MARC Record
OCLC
1055139115
Pages
133-145
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Language
English
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC
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