hidden europe 28

Free as a bird: Marc Chagall

by Nicky Gardner

Picture above: Sculpture of Marc Chagall in Vitebsk, Belarus. The sculpture is in the city’s old Jewish quarter where Chagall lived for over two decades (photo © hidden europe).


Do you remember Chagall's picture The Red Jew? The subject of Marc Chagall's painting recalls what he remembers of the artist's life in the city of Vitebsk.

Fray vi a foygl. Free as a bird. That was Moyshe. Local boy. Nice kid. His pa was in the herring business. The man reeked of fish. And Moyshe’s ma, well she ran a shop. Groceries, that sort of thing. They lived out near the railway line. Brick house on Pokrovskaya. Simple, nothing fancy. Like most folk round these parts, they were a hard working family. Quiet, I’d say. Observed shabbat of course. The Torah and trade make good partners. Toyre iz di beste skhoyre — that’s the way they saw it. And that’s the way I see it.

Hey, look at that man sitting up there on that pointed gable. So high. He goes up there every morning, perches on the roof and eats tzimmes. Cannot be so comfy right up there.

Anyway, I was telling you about Moyshe.

This is just an excerpt. The full text of this article is not yet available to members with online access to hidden europe. Of course you can read the full article in the print edition of hidden europe 28.