Saturday, 31 May 2014

Nechama Pochachevski from Brest - now in Belarus

Stanley Kaye recently sent me an e-mail with information about another Female Poet of the First World War I had not heard of - Nechama Pochaveski.  Thank you Stanley.

I haven't been able to find out when Nechama was born or when she died, however her husband, Michal Pochachevski celebrated his 80th birthday in 1943.  I am also keen to find some of Nechama's poems and a photograph of her.  If anyone has any further information, please get in touch with me.  Thank you.

“Nefesh” (meaning 'soul') was Nechama's pen name.   This apparently described her exactly, as she was very religious. Nechama was born in Brest-Litovsk (now in Belorus), which was part of the Russian Empire in the nineteenth century. By the time she arrived in Eretz Israel, Nechama had already learnt the beauty of the Hebrew language - the language of Yeshayahu and Avraham Mapu, the Bible and love of Zion - and she kept these in her heart all her life. 

Nechama was plucked from her hometown of Brest-Litovsk and taken by boat to the shores of Tzaritzin (Stalingrad), where her parents emigrated. There she studied in a Russian high school.

From Tzaritzin – whilst still very young - Nechama was uprooted once again - this time to Israel. She married Michal Pochachevski – one of six young men from Brest who were training to be gardeners in Israel. Her husband would usually ride his horse from one colony to another to teach the settlers how to use the tree saws and branch shears.

Nechama and her husband lived in an attic of a house belonging to one of Baron Rothschild's officials in Rishon Letzion for Michal worked for the Baron . From the attic veranda the passers-by in the street of the settlement caught glimpses of a delicate face framed by black hair, her dark shining eyes watching the people in the street with interest. 

 In spite of her Russian education, Nechama began to speak Hebrew on the first day she arrived in the Holy Land. Influenced by the colony's teacher, her home became the first in which only Hebrew was spoken. She would send letters to 'Hamelitz' back home, in which the readers could slake their thirst for the details and descriptions of the charm and beauty of the Holy Land. After some years she also sent stories and pictures of life in the new land of Israel.

Nechama was not just concerned with Hebrew literature. She was a settler and was interested in agriculture – she was one of the best and brightest of the Jewish daughters of the land. She was also a pioneering founder in her colony of the cowshed, the chicken run, the vegetable garden and of flowers. Her husband left the employ of the baron and became a colonist – a landowner in Rishon Letzion. He developed his farm with cows, horses, goats, chickens and most of his time in the vineyard and fields was under the control of Nechama. She added some of her flowers to the model garden, she treated the animals as her children, she brought them up the same as her son and daughter. She was an outstanding farmer and agriculturalist, mother and housewife. She baked wonderful bread in the oven and would work as busily as an ant all day long.

 In her old age, she added Russian poetry with its deep sorrow to the younger Hebrew poetry with which her soul was steeped.

Source: Stanley Kaye of the Remembering World War One in 2014 One Hundred Years Facebook Group who suggested planting poppies in Remembrance - translated by Haim Sidor from: "Brisk de-Lita: Encycolpedia Shel Galuyot (Brest Lit(owsk) Volume)" - "The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora", Editors: E. Steinman, Jerusalem, 1954-55 (H,Y, pages)