“In the house, Grandmother works hard and with her, sons and daughters, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, grandsons and granddaughters – an entire populace.”
So writes the author of “A Mother’s Refrain” from the Yizkor book of Ostrolenka, Poland who appears to have grown up in the area of Bialystock, about 70 miles distant. It was a sentence that captured for me the tradition of the Jewish household in the old country.
For A.S. Sztejn, there are memories of “joyous sunny days at the end of summer; golden ripe grain interwoven with colorful wild flowers spreads everywhere” on the leased estate managed by his grandfather until it fell on hard times, and the “sons and daughters left their parents' nest” for other towns.
Then came World War I with the contending armies committing plunder and theft, scorching fields, ruining houses, and causing tumult and panic in Jewish towns.
His story is filled with loving memories of his parents who created, for him, “a perfect Jewish home.” Sztejn emigrated to Israel in 1953, but he never forgot the refrain that his mother was so attached to and would repeat during the hard times the family endured.
Silver Spring, MD
Researching: DRACH, EBERT, KIMMEL, ZLOTNICK
Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel