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צו טאָוול זײַט - To TOVL ZAYT מער קיין פּחד ניט: I -דער פּאַסטעך! TRI-fon

כראָניק פון אַ נײַער תּקופה אין ייִדישן לעבן: דעם פּאַסטעכס טאָג-בוך – די ערשטע פאַזע

– לייבל באָטוויניק. 2011-2012. ה'תשע"א-ה'תשע"ב
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This webpage contains a running synopsis of what has occurred until the current chapter

Introduction

1. I recount how the diary and accompanying material came to be in my possession. See the following short presentation:

2. I describe my feelings and reservations, and pass on observations and comments regarding the material in the diary.

Chapter 01: Fire

1. The first chapter presents the diary's description of the horrible fire. We relive the terror of all those who are caught up in it: we feel the flames, heat, and suffocating smoke. We hear the screams of the unfortunate victims, and see how some of them throw themselves out the windows to fall 8 and 9 floors to their deaths on the street below. We are witness to the fear and helplessness of the tragically innocent victims that in mere minutes are devoured by the horrendous fire.

2. In the middle of the panic a lone firefighter appears who, together with a brave woman worker, try with their last strength to move the few surviving women into a side room – with the hope that maybe there they will be able to avoid perishing.

3. No sooner than the last of them push their way into the room, that the floor under them shakes … and they are falling.

Chapter 2: No More Fear

1. This chapter finds us in the same evening immediately after the fire, but in an entirely different place: on a sandy beach, under a free sky, near a sea or lake.

2. The 29 girls are introduced to the man who rescued them. He presents himself under the name "Pastekh" ["Shepherd"].

3. He explains to them, that they are now in a new place and describes the key points of his plan to enable them to start a new life. At the same time, he explains the limitations and conditions, and emphasizes the foundations of Yidishkeyt [Judaism]and Humanism that will formulate the base of their continued existence.

4. He also underscores, that they will not be able to return to their former lives in New York or to their loved ones.  The girls are, of course, none too pleased about this.

5. They are in a confused state, so he attempts to quiet them and calm them down by various means, including ordering them to wash up and exchange their smoke-filled clothes. Afterwards they are invited by him to a light meal.

6. He takes down their names, divides them up into 5 groups (each according to a different colour), and sends them to sleep in previously prepared tents – painted according to their assigned colours.

7.  In the middle of the night, one of the girls sneaks into the Pastekh's tent, and thinking him to be asleep, thanks him while quietly sobbing, with a light kiss to his head … a mystery that will need to be solved at a later time. 

Chapter 3: Genesis in the Middle

1. It's Sunday. It's the first day after the horrible fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. The rescued women wake up to a new day. The place where they find themselves is named "Breyshis" [Genesis] by their rescuer and host – Der Pastekh [the shepherd].

2. Pastekh gathers together the women, presents them a summary of the recent events, and tries to make them understand how they are to proceed – in particular in the upcoming days, but also further on. The women (still partly in a shock from all that has transpired) are not especially happy with the current state of affairs and want to return home – they are even afraid of losing their jobs if they don't turn up for work the next day – Monday.

3) Pastekh presents them with the main facts of what has come to pass – in particular about the heavy loss of life – 146 dead from the fire, and that the factory  was destroyed – that there is no reason to return, and that he can offer them much more – they just need to trust him. In the meantime, he tells them to enjoy this free day in the beautiful place. Due to the fact that they experienced a heavy physical trauma (several of them are still coughing from yesterday's smoke) – he will conduct a medical examination of each one of the women.

4. After eating breakfast, he hands out a questionnaire to fill out about themselves and personal issues. He provides them with books and games to pass the time while he is conducting the health examinations. Afterwards, they will be able to choose appropriate clothing and shoes, because until now, they are clothed only in thin sleeping gowns.

5. As the medical exams are conducted, Pastekh becomes agitated due to the fact that the two cousins Vera [#5] and Khane [#6] Bergman are acting strangely and seem to be hiding something about their origins. As it turns out, these are two Jewish girls from the community in Rome and that's the reason they lied and even changed their names to conform to Ashkenazi (European) Jewish names – that they wouldn't be considered to NOT be Jews.

6. Other revelations: Pastekh finds out that one of the girls (Mindl Edlshtein [#2]) is pregnant – as a result of being raped a few months earlier. He promises to help her. She does not, however, want to reveal her condition to her friends, though she will need to – sooner or later. Another woman, Khaye Green [#17] has problems with her back and requires a real bed – and won't be able to continue sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag. In summary, other than another pregnant woman (Libe Sobol [#21]), and other than various non-critical cuts, bruises and light wounds everyone is – thank God – in good condition.

7. After lunch. Pastekh calls a meeting of representatives from each 'House' to formulate a plan for the upcoming days.

8. That evening, a culturally entertaining program is presented, where each one of the women will present and talk about herself – based on the questionnaire they filled out in the morning. Due to lack of time, only one girl, Sore Breytman [#4], gets a chance to talk.

Chapter 4: Self Served

1. It's Monday. Pastekh informs them, that in addition to their other responsibilities, they will need to assist in recharging the batteries that are serving the tent-town, by riding on special cycles.

2. Pastekh gives up his bed to Khaye Green [#17] due to her back problems.

3. As the daily schedule for going out to construct the new habitat – the town of "Breyshis", – is presented, Mindl Edlshtein [#2] reveals that she is pregnant.

4. The girls are less than happy that they are being forced to do the physical work of building the town. They do not want to be slaves. Pastekh calms them down and tells them that it is for their own benefit and for no one else. In any case, the work is only for a few hours.

5. After lunch, the first of the courses begins. Because of the need to bring the girls up-to-date historically, several of the planned courses are postponed, and they concentrate primarily on an overview of World events that led up to 1911 (their year). By chance, the passing away of Y.L.Peretz in 1916 is noted – everyone is deeply saddened.

6. That evening, Reyzl Charness [#22] and Blumke Zisman [#23] discuss the weirdness of the place and of the recent events – but particularly of the night sky. The stars do not seem to be in their right places.  When Reyzl demands to know where they really are, Pastekh answers that they are in Pangea – the one-continent of 250 million years ago.

7. Mirl Perlman [#16] whose father is a prominent Rabbi cannot accept this. Pastekh explains that there are things we will never know or understand – even when we are given superficial answers and explanations.

8. The evening's program consists of a continuation of the 'come-get-to-know-us' activity of the previous evening. Today, Dora Vaserholts [#27] tells about her rich family and how she left her home because of her love of Yiddish theatre.
 

Chapter 5: Runners

1. It’s Tuesday. After getting up, Pastekh leads the girls out to the area where they originally appeared on Pangea. This will become their permanent meeting place, and has been named “Triangle Place” in memory of the victims who died.

2. Pastekh brings them newspapers that tell about what happened in the Triangle Fire, and promises to keep them informed about what’s happening in the outside world. The girls are deeply saddened reading the names of those who died, but are shaken up when they find their own names listed among the dead.

3. After breakfast, they recommence preparing the foundation of their future town “Breyshis”. This time, however, they are dressed in proper work-clothes and shoes.

4. After the lunch break, they are presented with a lesson on new developments in Science and Technology, as well as about the years 1911-1918 and the “Great War”.

5. During the evening program, Henia (Feyge-Hinde) Goldberg [#10] reveals that she was using a false name, because criminals that had murdered her father were looking for her. In fact, her father was a special agent of a world-renowned wealthy Jewish family in Europe, and she was his accomplice in carrying out secret and dangerous missions. This was the first time since her childhood, that she felt safe and without fear. 

Chapter 6: What ‘YES’ and What ‘NO’

1. The girls are wearing their new coloured gymnastic outfits – the colours are according to their house-colours – and Feyge Hinde Goldberg [#10] is leading them in exercise. However, they feel physically exploited: due to the morning exercises, and the re-charging of the generator batteries, and work in setting up their village.

2. After lunch, a delegation of 5 girls with Mirl Perlman [#16] at its head comes to Pastekh to protest: They do not want to lead a religious life and become observant. He again explains to them the importance of this, and shows them some interesting things in the Bible that might even hint that they (and the other women) had been pre-destined for this.

3. As a result of the ‘protest-visit’ Pastekh opens the afternoon lesson for the girls on the subject of Torah and ethics.

4. In the second session, he teaches them about the period 1918-1932: both about the flourishing Jewish life with respect to culture and Yidishkeyt [Judaism] (particularly in Eastern Europe), and the other side of the coin – the ongoing anti-Semitism.

5. Instead of the usual 'come-get-to-know-us' activity of the previous evenings, where the girls tell about themselves, Pastekh surprises them and turns the program into an entertaining dance evening.


Chapter 7:Tnoyim [Engagement Ceremony] (First day of Nisan)

From Pastekh's diary: "… In a certain manner,  I feel like a blacksmith: first he heats up the metal, then he hammers and hammers in order to create something. As soon as it begins to stabilize and form a shape, he takes it and replaces it in the fire, then pulls it out, and again hammers away …".

1. In the morning, Pastekh announces that several of the girls have accepted to remain with him in Pangea, and in honour of this there will be a festive celebration and banquet in the evening. The girls request new clothing – particularly festive ones – since their arrival they only have one dress each.

2. After breakfast they go out to continue building their village "Breyshis".

3. While most of the girls are resting after lunch – a "Family committee" of representatives from each house gathers to discuss various issues and also about the upcoming mass-marriage. Several of the girls are not happy with the fact that their decision to stay (or not) needs to be made so urgently and of the Pastekh's stringent requirements of them. They would like more time to get to know him and to think through the situation. Pastekh understand their arguments but stands firm – the wedding will take place on Sunday – but he agrees that anyone who decides not to stay must not be forced to leave immediately and will be able to stay another week.

4. The afternoon History class is emotionally very difficult for everyone, both for Pastekh and for the girls. He tells them about the events between the years 1932-1948. In order to partly lighten the mood, he begins by telling them the good news of the great miracle of the creation of the Jewish State – the State of Israel (about which he will tell more in tomorrow's lesson). He immediately goes over to the horrifying events of before, during, and after WWII – the war on Jews and the Holocaust. The girls leave the class entirely shaken.

5. In contrast, in the evening, they celebrate a joyous "Tnoyim" (engagement) ceremony for those who have so far decided to stay. These are: Veronica Del Monte [#5], Luciana Del Monte [#6], Feyge-Hinde Goldberg [#10], Khaya Green, Nekhame Rosentsvayg [#20], Blumke Zisman [#23], Khane Zand [#24], Khane Shekhterman [#25], Dora Vaserholts [#27], Mindl Edlshtein [#2], and Libe Sobol [#21]. The last two due to their pregnancy. Also remaining because of their young age are Malke Gegerman [#8] and Khane Noyman [#1.]


Chapter 8:Let it be Shabes (Preparations)

1. Pastekh announces that he has acquired new temporary beds for them all – better than sleeping on the ground in sleeping-bags.

2. During the preparation of the Shabes meals, a sharp confrontation breaks out between two groups of women over how the food is to be prepared (particularly the Gefilte Fish). Luciana Del Monte [#6] arrives to take things in hand, and makes peace among them.

3. During the afternoon lesson, Pastekh tells them about the creation of the new Jewish homeland, the State of Israel and finally reveals that he originates from the first years of the 21st century.

4. After class, a group of girls compete in a race with remote-controlled toy cars. Rivka Yudelman [#18] wins.

5. Just before lighting the Shabes candles, when everyone is ready, the girls open their hearts to one another and discuss the pros and cons of staying. For many of them, it's still a very difficult decision. They also deliberate with those that have already decided.

6. After the erev-Shabes prayer, several of the young ladies discuss the quality of Patekh's "khazanut" performance in conducting the services.

7. The erev-Shabes feast is a success. Everyone sits around the tables eating, talking, and singing – enjoying themselves immensely in a warm and friendly Shabes-atmosphere.



Chapter 9:"Oyfruf" (Pre-wedding Torah reading and celebration of the Groom)

1. Shabbos morning begins quietly – as it should – with praying and a light Kiddush. Afterwards, Pastekh gives a lecture on the weekly Torah portion – Vayikra – and shortly afterward they all partake of a festive Shabbos meal.

2. After the repast they all disperse, to rest. Several of the young ladies consider again their situation, and consult each other on what to do: stay with Pastekh – and their friends – or take the risk and leave.

3. During this rest period, a group of girls starts gossiping about another girl – Nekhame Rozentsvayg [#20] – and makes fun of her, and worse: hint at her throwing herself under every male that she meets. They go so far as to accuse her of immodest behaviour with Pastekh himself. Nekhame’s anger flares when she hears this, and she attacks her main accuser – Khane Altman [#14] with great wrath. Their beating each other is halted by the intervention of Mirl Perlman [#16].

When Pastekh comes a running – angry at them for disrupting the holiness and peacefulness of Shabbos, Nekhame recounts the horrible events and experiences of how she was exploited since she was an innocent 13 year old girl. The two adversaries make peace – and everyone disperses. Pastekh refrains from punishing them.

4. In the evening, after Havdole, they all celebrate with a Melave Malke banquet. Simultaneously, those girls who are to be wed perform the Tvila – water immersion ceremony – according to Jewish custom. During this time, Pastekh meets with each girl, both those that have already assented to marry, and those that have still withheld giving a final answer. In the end, it appears that they are all convinced that a better solution does not exist for them – and all agree to accept Pastekh’s conditions for staying in the Town of “Breyshis”, and to marry him.


Chapter 10: Man and Women (Sunday Wedding)

1) Everything is quiet in the morning. The girls prepare themselves spiritually for their "big day" – the wedding.

2) Probably the most strained is Pastekh himself. He calls everyone together mere hours before the ceremony to present them with a joyful surprise. He has prepared tailored wedding dresses for each woman – as well as cosmetics and jewelry. They fall upon the treasure with glee.

3) At 19:00 everyone again gathers – already dressed up, and Pastekh carries out a wedding ceremony with each one individually (except for the two youngest).

4) After the wedding ceremony Pastekh leads each woman individually to his tent (except for the two pregnant women) and then calls in the next one. After spending not more than 5 minutes with each one, he calls in the next in line. In truth, however, 5 days pass for each one and Pastekh takes each one on a honeymoon in various places around the world. When they appear, each one of them has something to recount, and also to show – because it also became a shopping trip for them – each one according to her taste.
 

For the moment, there are no further translations in English

NOTE: The next chapter will - God willing - be published when it is ready

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