Thursday 22 February 2018


ITE SAFMAN (b. 1873)
            She hailed from Odessa.  As Y. Dobrushin recounts, this Odessan woman of the people (already over sixty years of age) began writing about her experiences during the evacuation from Odessa to Uzbekistan in Soviet Central Asia.  “The steamer, may it rest in peace, and Yiddish prayers from my old grandmother”—thus she began one of her rhymed stories about a ship packed with evacuees on the Black Sea, which was bombed by German airplanes.  In another rhymed chapter, she recounts: “When Hitler came to power, night fell on Czechoslovakia.  It became dark—a lament, and shorter was the day.  Black clouds swarmed over the sky, the wind gave its word that it would make the storm clouds move from their place, and the sun would rise again.”  She also narrated the story of her husband, the sixty-year-old partisan who stayed with the other fighters in the Odessa catacombs, and the Germans seized him and hanged him with his sister who was a writer.  “As for every folk creator,” wrote Y. Dobrushin, “there sprang up in her the poetic word, and soon side-by-side it was with a melody….  In her songs she is more a storyteller.  She thus needs a means of innovative, folkish trope, which attends to every word and line and construes and explains and underscores the sorrow and the joy of an awakened folk soul.”

Source: Y. Dobrushin, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (June 26, 1945).
Benyomen Elis

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