Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2

By Dan Ben-Amos | Go to book overview
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25
The Long "Had Gadya,;

TOLD BY ROSA LIBERMAN TO MOSHE BURT

In the town of Bendzin in Poland there lived many Jews—upright and pious Jews. The city used to belong to Russia, in the time of the czars.

The Polish nationalists wanted to use every means and all their energies to restore Polish freedom, establish a Polish state, and get rid of the Russians. The czar did everything to frustrate this dream.

The Russian people, too, began to rise up against the czar. They too wanted to overthrow the czar and set up a regime of the workers. One of the best-known revolts took place in 1905.

In Bendzin, there were many Jews who belonged to that Polish radical organization. They did their work quietly, in absolute secrecy, because a single wrong move could lead to the death penalty or banishment to Siberia. The group included people who risked their lives for the liberation of Poland, like Pilsudski and his devoted followers. The Jews among them hoped that things would be better for the Jews after the overthrow of the czar.

In Bendzin, there lived a Jew with a beard, David Fischmann. (His family name was somewhat different, but it's better this way, because his family is still alive and lives in Israel.) This David worked with the Polish nationalists and distributed posters calling for the liberation of Poland from the Russians. No one in his house knew anything about it, and if anyone had learned of it they would have been terrified, because czarist agents were everywhere. Then, too, he was a Jew and the father of three children!

Until one day David was arrested. They found illegal posters and pamphlets in his possession—no more and no less. He was sent to the Sherotsk prison.

A year and a half passed and David was still being held, without trial. His wife didn't know what to do. Finally, she gathered up her courage, took her three children, and traveled to Warsaw to see the governor. For a week she wandered the streets of the city until she managed to reach him. The conversation between them went like this:

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