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Sefer Vladimirets

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How I Loved You!

From: Sefer Vladimirets, 1963

Author: Chaya Garmarnick

** Webmaster Note: The following translation was generously provided by Lior Mordechai Burko.  We have presented it here exactly as it was translated for us.  Notes for clarity or explanation have been provided in brackets.

I LOVED YOU SO!

I loved you so, my beloved town, with all my soul I was tied to you, to this day I carry your memory with my heart.  

I was not born in you. Also my childhood days were not spent in you, and yet you are dear to me, very dear. For the grace of folksiness and good spirits were bestowed upon you, and even foreigners, who came to you from afar, were caught in a web of love to you, as if you were their Mother, and as if they saw the light of day for the first time.  

I was born in the town of Ulusk in Volyn, and I came to you with my brother Aharon Friedman and his family and with my brother in-law Moshe Waldman and his four children. It was 1920, we were survivors of [Symon] Petliura’s and Belechovich’s [?] murderers looking for a safe haven, and this is how we came to you, good and compassionate Vladimirets.  

My brother was the foreman of wood cutting in the nearby forest for a large company, and the Jews of my town benefited from that both directly and indirectly. My brother too loved you like I do. My brother was a pleasant man: his house was always open to any poor man, and he helped any needy person, either by good advice or by actual help. We also brought our father, Zalman Friedman may he rest in peace, from Russia, and he too connected with the town’s people and made it his home. Pinchas Gorzik and Zelig Tsherniak were his closest friends, and in their company he would spend his days, either for hours in shul over a page of Gemara, or talking Torah and singing Hassidic songs.  

Thus we lived pleasantly and comfortably – until Polish Police found out my brother was not a Polish citizen. They started bothering him constantly. He was forced to leave you, and move to Paris. But he kept with his the magic of living in you for all his days, until he was perished by the Nazi murderers, together with his wife and two sons.  

I remember, oh how I remember your Sabbaths and your yontifs, Vladimirets, and especially so Simchat Torah. How beautiful were those days… Here again I see my brother’s image, who would pass in Shul in front of the Bima, serving as cantor for his beautiful voice. Here, Shul services are over, and the entire community, old and young, go out dancing and singing to the town’s streets, and especially audible was the song A Good Year (“A gutter yahr. Ay… ay…”), the voices of the children, the holy lambs, joining the voices of the adults, singing and dancing throughout town, going from house to house to enjoy the feast’s delicacies.  

How beautiful were those days! Each one as if as forgot the worries of livelihood and the heavy burden, and with happiness and joy they used to glorify the yontif, for most of the township were Chassidim, and who could glorify a yontif better then Chassidim? The joyous spirits would overtake everyone, and make the entire town united. And so… until the ax of the murderer was carried over you, and until the reaper went over you, and your wonderful life was cut off to ashes.  

You were pleasant to me, Vladimirets my Jewish Shtetl, and your memory is very dear to me. May your soul and the souls of our dear ones be bundles with the living.


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