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Sefer Vladimirets

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Meetings with Friends

From: Sefer Vladimirets, 1963

Author: Moshe Appelboim

** Webmaster Note: The following is a translation from Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov as sponsored by George Zilbergeld. Additional clarifications are provided in parenthesis ( ).


Memories of childhood and youth are like the nucleus hidden in the seeds of a plant.  They sprout and bud at meetings between friends who have memories in common.

Every person bears the history of his life on his shoulders, but his childhood, the beginning of his existence, is engraved in his heart all the days of his life. 

These memories create a connection between people from the same city for their entire lives, and if that is so in large cities, it is even more so with regard to our small town, Vladimirets.

In the town, we were one large family, and everyone knew about the life of his fellow man, his sufferings and his celebrations.

The town was cut off, and it is no more.  Many of its sons are located in different countries, but when they come as guests to us in Israel, we receive them like brothers returning to their family. 

At meetings and on days of remembrance, or at parties for guests, all of the differences of position, all of the divisions and all of the ceremonial manners disappear, and we see ourselves as we were in those days, the days of our childhood and youth in our town.

I remember several meetings with guests, sons of our town, from the United States:  Gedalyahu Volok, who is known as Charlie Wollak, a Jew who has acquired property and has achieved honor in American society, when he appeared for the first time in Israel with his Cadillac, as a millionaire.  When he met with us in the "Bustan" he came among us as the son of the good-hearted woman, Sara Charna's Gedalya.  The memories from our town arise and flood us:  childhood, the cheder and the rebbe, and Gedalyahu's mischief in Chanoch's cheder.  And it is as if Charlie breaks out of all his "Americanism," and again, it is Gedalyahu who is before us, running from one to another with his camera, asking each one about his life, and in our imaginations, we again see him in Sara Charna's house.  The entire scene, the house and the entire Volok family, return to life before us, until that time when they left the town for America.

And I remember the meeting with Louie Rose and his wife Taivel, and how they appeared at the reception we made for him.  Louie Rose represented the committee from Detroit, and in his speech he promised us that the same way that the committee had supported us in the past, it would continue to do so in the future.  I remember how happy he made the audience with his jokes.

When Avraham Friedman, Zeev Friedman's brother, who was very emotional about meeting with us, came to visit us in Israel and told us in his vivacious Yiddish about everything that our brother "landsmen" in America felt, we saw before us the home of Ben-Zion Friedman, of blessed memory, with the samovar that was always boiling on winter evenings and before dawn; in our imagination we saw the Jew, the Torah scholar, who fulfilled the commandment of visiting the sick all his life, who knew a bit of medical wisdom and was like a member of the family in every house in the town.  Ben-Zion Friedman and his entire family stood alive before us.  When we met with "the Rosens," Feivish Rosen and his wife, Gedalyahu Rosen and his wife and sister, we saw before us our town's "angels":  "Feivish der malach" and "Gedalya der malach," as they were called in our town.  And we remembered other events and other impressions from those days.  The joy of childhood and the terror of the Holocaust come together at every meeting and every memorial that we hold.

And I remember the party in honor of Shlomo Eidelman and the intimate party for Mr. Voron at Chaim Schwartzberg's house, and more recently, the party for Susil and Nachman Eliyahu Kotz' sister and brother.

Man's nature is to cause death to be forgotten in many ways, in order to escape from the feeling of destruction.

We all tremble at the recital of Kaddish [the prayer for the dead] in memory of the martyrs, and we wish to be comforted and shake off the sorrow and mourning by what is renewed and created in our new lives in Israel and in the Jewish world.  In every meeting of this kind of the people of our town, from Israel and the Diaspora, it is as if we are cut off from the present time, these days of dispute, of confusion and loss of direction, and we are carried back to the content, innocent days of our childhood.

Every one of us, who carries in his heart his sorrow over the loss of his family and relatives, would not be able to bear it if he were totally alone.

We come out of these meetings somewhat encouraged, as people who talked about the bitterness in their hearts, as if heavy stones have been rolled away from them, and we again feel as if we all had come back home together, to the large family of our town.

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