The Male-Forest of Tarnopol
How can one forget one’s dread of the forest of Tarnopol, although removed in time by a quarter of a century?
It wasn’t a forest of trees, for these were chopped down to the last one by the Germans and Russians and all the various hordes that ravaged Galicia in the years 1914-20. It was a forest of adult Jewish males, moss-covered with peyes (earlocks) and beards, tumultuous with voices of various degrees of formidability and rich in strange and menacing gestures.
These forbidding males, almost all, were fathers, and constituted mobile shelters to which their children, losers in a gang-fight, or aggressors who wished to escape a trouncing by the victim, scurried quickly, searching them out in crowded humid synagogues, or in jammed market places among stalls and shops and wagons laden with peasants’ perishable goods.
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