From Cheder to Yeshiva
Reb David Bromberg's Pardon

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"For Jewish boys of my generation, taking the right road meant going straight from cheder to the Yeshiva.

Little boys and young men would spend their afternoons and evenings studying the Torah and its commentaries. Nothing would give greater joy to parents than to see their son eager to discuss in greater depth with his father or an older brother what he had learned the very same day in school. Everyone had a feeling of being enriched by this constant and fertile dialogue.

Nachme Bromberg, although he was an excellent Talmudist, rejected strict orthodoxy. To wear austere Chassidic garb, never to talk to young women, or wait until his parents presented him with a fiancée of their choice, without consulting him first, were all unbearable to him. He could not help feeling that way. No, he was attracted instead by everything that represented a new way of experiencing the world - newspapers, modern books, music. Soon he became active in the Zionist movement. This evolution did not please his father, Reb David, who believed that his beloved son had gone astray. Little by little, their relationship grew increasingly venomous.

The fact that Nachme shaved his beard and refused to attend synagogue regularly was a source of despair to Reb David, who after a while, refused to welcome the errant son to the family table.

Kopel Melman, Ozarow, Poland, in 1931.

This type of situation was not uncommon at that time. In many households, the parents suffered from not seeing their sons transmit the ancestral tradition "l'dor v'dor" - from generation to generation.

Moshke Bromberg, the younger brother of Nachme, was my friend. One winter evening in 1933 I paid him a visit. When he opened the door, he whispered to me worriedly, "Please, go home. I can't tell you right now, but it's a real crisis. Nachme has decided to leave home to go to France!" He told me that his older brother and his father had already not spoken to each other for a long time.

I went home in deep thought, and could not help believing that Nachme was right.

Of course, my grandfather Kopel Melman thought otherwise. The oldest son of Reb David was required to be obedient and to follow tradition.

The day of Nachme's departure quickly drew near. Father and son would probably never see each other again. Was it possible that they could part without any farewell? Without any reconciliation? It took the last-minute intervention of my Uncle Abraham-Nuta for Reb David to agree to pardon his son and give him his farewell blessing."  next ►►

Ożarów 4

photo and written excerpts
from "Memories of Ożarów: A Little Jewish Town That Was" by Hillel Adler. Translated by William Fraiberg.





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