The Library and Drama Club

By Haviva Rochin-Carmeli (Kfar Masaryk, Israel)

I have locked inside me a few memories of a number of projects and classes within the cultural life of my town, Keidan.

The first is the town library, from which most of the inhabitants absorbed knowledge and wisdom – adults, youth, and above all the senior members of the various youth movements.

This corner of culture was situated in a miserable, ramshackle building – I don’t remember the name of the street – but I do remember that it was in the middle of all the town’s butcher shops. The atmosphere in the library was always pleasant, relaxed and full of comradely meetings of those searching for spiritual food – on the life and folklore of our people, written by the best of our authors from across the Diaspora. I was nearly ready to make aliya, together with my friends. We searched there and found routes to Israeli literature, and it was as if we had started to realize our future lives. I remember the works of Barash, Kabak, Smilansky, Ever-Hadani, which led us to the tangible reality of our land at that time. We identified with all their heroes, filled with self-sacrifice for our people and the homeland. They brought us nearer, to no small extent, to the goal. It is, therefore, difficult to forget this blessed project, which did so well to nourish and to equip its many visitors with spiritual culture.

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The drama ensemble was another cultural pearl. It was made up of all the senior youth circles. The ensemble mainly presented its performances in Yiddish.

To a large degree, the ensemble enriched cultural life. It also contributed to those who could only learn in this way the experiences and knowledge of the lives of our people spread out all over the world. I remember the intensive preparations when the time came to present plays on the stage. The fire brigade hall, which served as the center for these performances, was full of people, old and young. They came to see the works of Sholem Aleichem, Goldfaden, Sholem Asch and Dinezon. Days of laughter and tears were thoroughly mixed together. People lived for days and weeks in the shadow of these experiences. There were those among them who were illiterate, and only by this way could they get to these works of folklore by our great authors.

Many of the members of this ensemble started emigrating early to various parts of the world. However, new young faces were always being added, and things kept going on. When I made aliya, I left the ensemble still in full bloom; but when the worst of the oppressors of all generations came, everything sank and became silent, together with all our slain and slaughtered brethren.

Translated by Chaim Charutz.