My Mother’s Family — Part 5

His father’s death left my grandfather as head of the family, responsible for the livelihood and safety of the three women and remaining the only man working in the field. He found the three women suffering of hunger for all the money which he sent them from Alexandria was long gone and he himself arrived without a single Franc since he sent everything he earned to them. This was a serious situation. He wanted with all his heart and soul to go on farming the family’s estate but his good will was not enough to put bread on the table. He therefore returned to his former routine: Working during the day as a goldsmith and silversmith in Jaffa and during the night as a farmer on his land.

When he returned one night from Jaffa he found an Arab herd grazing on his land. He had a revolver with which he never parted, drew it and shot one shot in the air hoping that the Jewish neighbors of the neighborhood would come to his help but nobody came. The Arab shepherds were not impressed by his shot and so he seized one of them and hit his head with the butt of his revolver. The fellow started crying and his two companions came running and all three started hitting my grandfather with their long shepherd sticks. They hit him mostly on his hands so that he would drop his revolver but did not succeed. Finally they left and grandfather fell exhausted on a mound of earth and fell asleep till daybreak. Next day he went to the Austrian Consul in Jaffa, told him what happened and showed him his swollen and wounded hands. The Consul called Sumeil’s Sheikh to his office and warned him that if ever shepherds from his village will enter Schönberg’s land he will shoot every single one of them for this was his legal right.

Grandfather’s cousin Golda reached her 18th birthday and was a beautiful and diligent young girl. A lot of good references were spread about her far and wide and even reached the settlers of Rishon-Lezion. Two years had passed since the members of Bilu settled in Rishon. One of these pioneers, called Itzhak Chernov came to my grandfather and asked to marry Golda. Chernov’s economical situation was quite good. Baron Rothschild granted him 100 dunams of land (25 acres) and a nice farmhouse. Grandfather made some inquiries about Chernov and found out that he was a decent and honest man, a hardworking farmer which was liked by the Baron and his officials. The gift which he brought to his intended bride was neither a gold bracelet nor a string of pearls but half a sack of white flour. This made a very good impression on grandfather who took Chernov to the old cemetry in Jaffa and asked him to swear on his ancestors graves that he will keep Golda and respect her as is required from a Jew until the end of his days. Chernov was so moved that when they were about to leave he turned towards the two gravestones and said in Yidish: “Zeit mir gezunt” (Be well).

Golda got married and lived a happy life with Itzhak Chernov bearing him 13 sons and daughters. Zivia, grandfather’s grandmother went to stay with her granddaughter Golda in Rishon and died 13 years later when she was 70 years old. Golda died of pneumonia in 1930. Both are buried at the Rishon-Lezion cemetry.

Close to Golda’s marriage an offer was made to purchase the Schönberg estate. The offer was made by an Orthodox Jew from Bialistock, Imperial Russia, named Isser Goldovsky. My grandfather decided that there was no escape from selling the estate. He was indeed an idealist but he was not a fool. It had been clear to him that he and his stepmother Hana which were the only ones which remained at the “estate” will not be able to make even the poorest living from this place. With the money which he received from Goldovsky my grandfather first repaid all the loans which his father, Dov, left behind him.He then gave 150 Gold Francs to his stepmother as was stated in her marriage-contract and what little money remained he split between his grandmother Zivia and his cousin Golda which received also, as a marriage gift, almost all of the kitchen-ware and house furniture. My grandfather remained after the sales deal without an “estate” and without one centime. (penny).

As he was about to move to Jaffa Goldovsky made him an offer: Stay here and teach me farming. Grandfather who waited for a good chance to continue his ideal of being a farmer grasped the bargain and stayed on what used to be his land as a laborer and instructor. Goldovsky had two daughters: Libbeh (Libby) and Feye (Fay).Goldovsky did not want to lose his industrious laborer for without him he would not be able to tell straw from wheat and so he made grandfather a new proposal: Marry my elder daughter Libbeh, he said, and get back one third of the “estate” in dowry. His daughter was a very beautiful girl, 15 years old, with grey-green eyes and very long black hair which were made into two long and thick braids. She was also very diligent. My grandfather was already 25 years old and Goldovsky’s offer seemed to him to be very generous and promising. They decided to celebrate the engagement on the 15th of February 1885. My grandfather invited to the ceremony his grandmother Zivia, his cousin Golda and her husband Itzhak Chernov and a few friends from Jaffa headed by Yaakov-Elhanan Litvinsky who had a small shop selling wood.

Litvinsky made a lot of publicity to the ceremony and showed up with a trio of musical entertainers: Moishe Fidler (the violinist), Velvel Klarnet (the clarinetist) and Yakov der Poiker (the drummer). They all arrived at the Engagement Ceremony hungry as a pack of wolves and liquidated immediately every bit of food which was available and with the food they drank all the wine as well. They insisted that my grandfather go with them to Sarona to get more wine for who ever heard about an Engagement party without wine? When they returned with the wine the music and dancing went on until after midnight and the revelry and merry-making went on and on. Grandfather who hated wild celebrations asked himself: If this is what happens at the Engagement Ceremony what will happen at the Wedding? He stood up immediately and asked if there was someone among the guests who specialized in performing a marriage, and as soon as he asked Moishe der Fidler jumped up and said he was the expert. Everybody thought this was strange but nobody was against the wedding itself. They posted the four tallest men at the four corners of the room and spread a praying-shawl over them so that each one of them held one corner of the shawl. The best-men of both families led the bride and groom under the bridal-canopy and Rabbi Moishe Fidler sanctified and married the couple as is done in the Jewish religion of Moses and Israel. The two traditional gold rings which were used for the sanctification were made by my grandfather several days earlier when the engagement date was decided by him and his future father-in-law.

When my grandmother died I asked for the wedding-ring of my grandfather which she kept since he died. When she died her wedding-ring was given to my aunt Rachel. When I married I gave my wife, Ines, this wedding-ring which was made by my grandfather for his wedding. It is a wide and heavy old-gold wedding-ring and inside is engraved his name and the date of his wedding: 16.2.1885.

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