_The Mendele Review_: Yiddish Literature and Language
              (A Companion to _MENDELE_)
Contents of Vol. 05.004
13 April 2001

                    _TMR_ 4th Anniversary Issue

 [Volume 1, No. 1 of _The Mendele Review_ appeared on 13 April 1997]

1) A Note on "dreyfus in kasrilevke" (ed.)
2) "dreyfus in kasrilevke" (sholem-aleykhem)
3) From Hugo Blumberg to Ugo da Montefeltro (ed.)
4) _kozles_ 'coachman's box' (Lucas Bruyn)

Date: 13 April 2001
From: Leonard Prager 
Subject: A Note on Sholem-Aleykhem's "Dreyfus in Kasrilevke"

The Dreyfus Affair convulsed French society as no other issue has before
or since, yet we are told in the opening sentence of this story that it
created more "raash" ['noise'] in Kasrilevke than anywhere else.  This
prepares us for a satirical view of Kasrilevke's citizens and, indeed,
they are argumentative, bad-mannered and individualistic.  Yet they
become drawn into a distant French-Jewish captain's drama as though he
were a close relative.  They imaginatively enter into his family circle
and wonder what his homecoming was like.  The momentous political affair
for them is largely the travail of a husband and father -- a Jewish
husband and father, yet still an individual rather than an ideology.  By
the story's end, these somewhat ridiculous "kleyne mentshelekh" ('little
people') become highly admirable in the author's eyes and in our own
because of their moral passion, a quality which many Jews have expressed
in an exemplary manner since the Enlightenment, and often in no less a
helpless fashion than in Kasrilevke.

Sholem-Aleykhem chose to place his story at the time of Dreyfus's army
retrial.  The prisoner has left Devil's Island only to be returned
there.  The story is dated 1902, apparently the first publication date,
but may have been written -- or at least begun -- earlier.  Dreyfus was
pardoned by the President of France in 1899, but fully exonerated only
in 1906, twelve years after being charged with treason.  Sholem-Aleykhem
cunningly concludes his story at a low point in the struggle.  The
contemporary reader did not know the full outcome.  The story ends with
the "kleyne mentshelekh" refusing to accept the facts as related in
Zayndl's copy of the Hebrew-language _Ha-tsefiro_ ['The Dawn'].  We of
course know the full outcome, but we also know the later history of the
heirs of Kasrilevke.  The story's ending necessarily reads differently
in the post-Shoah period than it did a century ago.  We may not love the
Kasrilevkeites less than formerly, but we also sigh at the enormous
price they paid for their lack of realism.

Max Erik in an essay "Kasrilevke" (in _Farmest_ [Kiev}, May/June
1935, 153-163 and translated into Hebrew in _Khulyot_ 4 [Summer 1997],
109-119) argues that alongside Tevye the Dairyman and Menakhem-Mendl,
Kasrilevke is the third of Sholem-Aleykhem's three great
characterizations, the work of the last fifteen years of his life
(1901-1915).  Erik argued that Sholem-Aleykhem created two opposing
Kasrilevkes, one facing the past and the other the present; one is drawn
romantically and the other realistically.  The two Kasrilevkes
contradict one another and are internally contradictory as well.
According to Erik's Marxist analysis, the source of these multiple
contradictions lies in the vacillations and lack of direction of the
petty-bourgeois author himself.

Only one person in Kasrilevke subscribed to the _Hatsefiro_.  Hilda Abel
translates:  "Zaidle is the only one in town who receives a newspaper,"
thereby excising a crucial cultural fact -- _Hatsefiro_, edited by the
Zionist publicist Nakhum Sokolow, was a Hebrew newspaper with a
political agenda.  Its assessment of the Dreyfus Affair was not merely
emotional or ethical; it measured events from a Jewish national
perspective.  Perhaps the ending of the story justifies Max Erik's view
of an ambivalent author who cannot decide whether to romanticize
Kasrilevke, i.e. see his "little people" as moral heroes -- or portray
it realistically, i.e. as resisting what the "Dawn" -- HaTsefiro --
is bringing.

Date: 13 April 2001
From: Morrie Feller 
Subject: "dreyfus in kasrilevke" fun sholem-aleykhem

We are pleased to offer a romanized version of Sholem-Aleykhem's
"dreyfus in kasrilevke."  Readers will find a Yiddish-letter text of the
story in the Project Onkelos archive

                     "dreyfus in kasrilevke"(1)

                        fun sholem-aleykhem

ikh veys nit, oyb di mayse fun dreyfusn(2) hot nokh ergets ongemakht aza
rash, vi in kasrilevke.

in pariz, zogt men, hot dos oykh gekokht, vi in a kesl.(3) gazetn hobn
geshribn(4), generaln hobn zikh geshosn(5), un vayse-khevrenikes zenen
arumgelofn iber di gasn(6), vi meshugoim, gevorfn hitlen un gearbet
maysem. der hot geshrign:  "viv dreyfus!" un der hot geshrign:  "viv
esterhazi!"(7) un yidn hot men dervayl geshmirt, gemakht mit der blote,
vi geveyntlekh(8) ... nor azoy fil agmes-nefesh mit azoy fil yesurim un
bizyoynes, vi kasrilevke hot derfun gehat -- dos vet pariz nit hobn biz
meshiekh vet kumen.

fun vanen iz men in kasrilevke gevor gevorn fun dreyfusn -- dos zolt ir
nit fregn. vorem lemay veyst men dortn fun der milkhome, vos di
englender hobn gefirt mit di buren?(9) fun vanen veysn zey vos in
kitay(10) tut zikh? vos far a mekhutn iz kasrilevke mit kitay di groyse
miskhorem, vos zey firn mit der velt? tey bakumen zey fun visotskin(11)
fun moskve, un dos gele zumershtof, vos men ruft dos
"tshe-shun-tsha"(12), trogt men nisht in kasrilevke. nisht far zeyer
baytl. danken got, az men ken trogn zumer a nakidke(13) khotsh fun
parusine(14) anit, hot men a breyre geyn azoy, dos heyst, mekhile, in
takhtoynim un fun oybn a tsitsenem arbe-kanfes, un me shvitst fun
destvegn gants geshmak, abi s'iz nor a heysn zumer.

blaybt dokh alts di eygene kashe:  fun vanen hot fort kasrilevke
ongeshmekt di mayse fun dreyfusn?

fun zaydlen.

zaydl reb shayes iz der eyntsiker in shtot vos shraybt oys dem
_tsefiro_(15) un ale nayes, vos tut zikh op oyf der velt, vert men gevor
fun im, dos heyst, nit fun im, nor durkh im. er leyent zey, un zey
fartaytshn:  er dertseylt, un zey lernen dem pshat:  er zogt vos se
shteyt, un zey dringen oft farkert, vorum _zey farshteyen beser_.

vayehi hayom(16), iz gekumen zaydl reb shayes in besmedresh arayn un
dertseylt a mayse, az in pariz hot men gemishpet a yidishn kapitan,
eyner a dreyfus, derfar, vos er hot aroysgegebn neytike papirn fun der
melukhe. iz dos in eyn oyer arayn, funem andern aroys. eyner hot zikh a
zog geton farbaygeyendik:

-- vos tut nit a yid tsulib parnose?

der anderer hot gehat a nekome:

a mitsve! loz a yidele nit krikhn oybn on un zikh nit mishn tsvishn

shpeter, az zaydl iz gekumen un hot dertseylt a naye mayse, az di gantse
geshikhte iz gor geven a bilbl, az der yidisher kapitan, der dreyfus,
vos me hot im farshikt, iz got di neshome shuldik, s'iz gor a gantse
intrige fun etlekhe generaln, vos hobn zikh epes tseampert -- demolt hot
zikh shoyn dos shtetl a bisl farinteresirt, un dreyfus iz gevorn a
kasrilevker. vu tsvey iz er geven a driter.

-- gehert?

-- gehert.

-- farshikt oyf eybik.

-- "vetshni poselenye". (17)

-- umzist-umnisht!

-- a bilbl!

nokh shpeter, az zaydl iz gekumen un hot dertseylt az s'iz gor a svore,
az der mishpet zol nokh a mol gemishpet vern, az es hobn zikh gefunen
gute mentshn azelkhe, vos nemen zikh unter bavayzn der velt, az s'iz gor
geven a toes di gantse mayse, -- hot kasrilevke ongehoybn zikh vign gor
oyf an ander oyfn. ershtns, iz dokh dreyfus "undzerer"; un, tsveytns, vi
kumt dos, az dortn in pariz zol forkumen aza paskudne mayse? fe, epes
zeyer nit sheyn far di "frantsehoyzndike"(18)... es iz avekgegangen a
shparenish un a vetenish:  der hot gezogt, az der mishpet vet nokh a mol
gemishpet vern, un der hot gedrungen az neyn:  eyn akher mayse bezdin
klum(19) -- opgemishpet iz farfaln ...

vos vayter-vayter hot men oyfgehert tsu vartn biz zaydl vet zikh a mol
oyskratsn tsu kumen in besmedresh arayn dertseyln nayes funem kapitan
dreyfus; me hot ongehoybn geyn tsu im aheym. me hot nisht gehat mer keyn
geduld geyn tsu im aheym, un me hot ongehoybn geyn mit im glaykh oyf der
post opnemen dos blat, un dortn take dos iberleyenen nokh a mol un nokh
a mol, shrayen, pildern, shparn zikh un redn ale in eynem, vi
geveyntlekh. nit eyn mol hot zey der odn der postmayster gegebn
ontsuherenishn, zeyer eydl afile, az a post iz nit keyn shul, lehavdl:

-- tut ne zhidivska shkola, zhidi parhhatye, tut ne kahal

zey hobn im ober gehert, vi homen dem grager:  er hot zey gezidlt, un
zey hobn geleyent dem _tsefira_ un geredt fun dreyfusn.

un nisht nor fun dreyfusn aleyn hot men geredt in kasrilevke. es iz
tsugekumen ale mol a frisher parshoyn:  frier "esterhazi", nokh dem
"pikert"(21), nokh dem general "mersi"(22), "peli" (23), "gonzi" (24),
un derbay iz gezogt
gevorn a hamtsoe, az bay di "frantsehoyzndike", vi bald a nomen fun a
general, azoy muz zikh oyslozn mit a "i".(25) hot eyner gefregt a

--  nu, un mit budeferen(26) vos vestu tun?

--  herstu? hot er take gehat a mapole.

-- ken yeavdu!(27)

tsvey parshoynen zenen geven in kasrilevke, vos di gantse shtot hot zey
lib gekrign, oysgegangen nokh zeyere trit. dos zenen geven "emil
zol"(28) un "lambori"(29). far "emil zolen" volt zikh yeder eyntsiker
mafkir geven. a vertele oystsuredn -- "emil zol"! az emil zol volt
kumen, lemoshl, keyn kasrilevke, volt di gantse shtot im aroysgekumen
akegn mit a borekh-habe, oyf di hend volt men im getrogn.

-- vos zogt ir oyf zayne brivlekh? perl! dimentn! barlyantn!

oykh fun "lamborin" hot men gehaltn an oylem umloye. der oylem hot
gekvelt, nispoel gevorn un gelekt di finger fun zayne droshes. khotsh
horkhn hot im in kasrilevke keyner nisht gehorkht, nor me hot farshtanen
mitn seykhl, az er badarft
konen redn.

ikh veys nisht, oyb dreyfuses mishpokhe in pariz hobn azoy aroysgekukt
oyf dreyfusn, er zol kumen funem sheynem indzl, vi es hobn aroysgekukt
deroyf di kasrilevker yidn. me kon zogn, az zey zenen geforn glaykh mit
dreyfusn azh fun dortn oyfn yam, mamesh gefilt vi zey shvimen:  ot-ot
heybt zikh oyf a shturemvind un geshmayst dem yam oyf ale zaytn, di
khvalyes pliushken un varfn dos shif, vi a shpendl, aroyf un arop,
aroyf un arop.

-- reboyne shel oylem!  -- hobn zey mispalel geven bay zikh in hartsn.

-- zolst im khotsh brengen besholem ahin, vu der mishpet badarf zayn!
zolst khotsh efenen di oygn fun di rikhter un klor makhn zeyere moykhes,
zey zoln gefinen dem shuldikn, un di gantse velt zol aroyszen
_undzer_ gerekhtikayt, omeyn sele!  ...

dem tog, vos s'iz ongekumen di gute psure, az dreyfus iz shoyn do, iz in
kasrilevke geven a yontef. zey zoln zikh nisht shemen, voltn zey
farshlosn di kleytn.

-- gehert?

-- a dank hashem yisborekh!

-- ikh volt a baln geven zen, vi azoy iz geven dos ershte bagegenish
mitn vayb?

-- un ikh volt a baln geven onkukn beshas-mayse di kinderlekh, az me hot
zey gezogt:  der tate iz gekumen.

vayber, vos zenen beys-mayse gezesn, hobn bahaltn di penemer in di
fartekher, kloymersht geshnaytst di nezer, me zol nisht zen, az zey
veynen. vi kasrilevke iz an orem shtetl, volt yeder opgerisn dos letste
funem letstn un volt zikh durkhgeforn ahin, a kuk tun khotsh fun der

az der mishpet hot zikh ongehoybn, iz gevorn a kokhenish, got zol
shoymer-umatsil zayn. nisht nor dos blat zaydls hot men tserisn oyf
shtiklekh. me hot zikh gevorgn mitn esn, men iz nit geshlofn keyn nekht.
me volt shoyn gern derlebn morgn, morgn -- iber morgn, un azoy ale teg.

mit a mol iz gevorn a mehume in shtot, a tuml, a geshrey, a gepilder,
khoyshekh! khoyshekh! dos iz geven demolt, vu me hot geshosn oyf advokat
lambori.(28) di kasrilevker hobn ayngeleygt di velt.

-- far vos? far ven? aza retsikhe! umzist-umnisht! erger vi in sdom!

der doziker shos hot zey dem kop aropgenumen. di dozike koyl hot zey
getrofn glaykh in hartsn arayn. glaykh vi er hot geshosn oyf

-- reboyne shel oylem!  -- hobn zey mispalel geven bay zikh in hartsn.

-- bavayz dayne vunder, du konst dokh, az du vilst, tu a nes, lambori
zol khotsh blaybn lebn.

un got borekh-hu hot a nes geton, er iz geblibn lebn.

az s'iz gekumen tsum letstn tog funem mishpet, hot dos mit di
kasrilevker gevorfn vi a kadokhes. zey voltn a baln geven antshlofn vern
oyf a gants mesles un oyfkhapn zikh demolt, ven dreyfus vet, mirtseshem,
shoyn zayn fray. nor, vi oyf tsu lehakhis, hot zikh bay keynem dos oyg
nisht gekont tsumakhn. me hot zikh yene nakht gekatshet fun eyn zayt oyf
der anderer, milkhome gehaltn mit di vantsn un aroysgekukt, es zol shoyn
vern tog.

az s'iz gevorn tog, iz men avek oyf der post. di post iz geven
farshlosn un der toyer oykh. bislekhvayz hot zikh der oylem ongehoybn
tsunoyfklaybn arum der post, un s'iz gevorn farfleytst di gas. yidn
zenen arumgegangen hin un tsurik, gegenetst, getsoygn zikh, gedreyt di
peye un gezungn shtilerheyt fun halel.(30)

az yareme der strozsh hot geefnt dos toyer, hobn yidn a loz geton zikh
ale mit a mol. iz yareme gevorn ongetsundn, bavizn, az do iz _er_
balebos, un hot zikh tselozt oyf zey un, mekhile, zey aroysgetribn mit
bizyoynes fun der post in droysn aroys, un dortn hobn zey gevart oyf
zaydlen, azoy lang, biz zey hobn zikh fort dervart. un az zaydl hot
opgenumen dos blat un hot zey ibergeleyent dem sheynem psak fun
dreyfusn, iz gevorn a geshrey, a lyarem -- himl efn zikh! der geshrey
iz geven nit oyf di generaln, vos hobn geshvorn falsh, nisht oyf di
"frantsehoyzndike", vos hobn zikh azoy nit sheyn oysgefaynt, -- neyn!
der geshray iz geven oyf zaydlen.

-- se kon nit zayn!  -- hot kasrilevke geshrign in eyn kol.  -- se kon
nit zayn in der velt aza mishpet! himl un erd hobn geshvorn, az der emes
muz aroyf, vi boyml oyfn vaser. vos vestu undz dertseyln mayses?

-- beheymes! shrayt nebekh zaydl mit ale koykhes un shtupt zey dos blat
glaykh in ponem arayn.  -- nat zet vos shteyt in blat!

-- blat-shmat!  -- shrayt kasrilevke.  -- un az du vest zikh shteln ot
do mit eyn fus oyfn himl un mitn andern oyf der erd
-- veln mir dir gleybn? s'iz a zakh, vos es kon nit zayn! es kon
nit zayn! es kon nit zayn! es kon nit zayn!

a simen -- ver iz geven gerekht?...

Endnotes [L.P.]

1) sholem-aleykhem, "dreyfus in kasrilevke," _kleyne mentshelekh mit
kleyne hasoges_, _ale verk_, band 5, nyu-york:  "forverts," 1942, zz'

2) Alsace-born Alfred Dreyfus was an obscure French Army captain when he
was accused of treason in 1894 and tried by a military court which
did not allow the defence to see the file (later proved a forgery) on
the basis of which he was found guilty and banished to Devil's
Island.  Ultimately he was found innocent and his military
position was restored.

3) In this humorous comparison the word "oykh" does its job.  Paris,
_too_ -- in addition to Kasrilevke, was excited over the Dreyfus Affair.

4) The antisemite Edouard Drumont's _La Libre Parole_ was among the most
anti-Dreyfusard newspapers.  Emile Zola's famous "L'accuse" in
defence of Dreyfus was published in the newspaper _L'Aurore_.

5) Lt. Col. Hubert Henry committed suicide after it was discovered that
he had forged papers which were used against Dreyfus.

6.  The anti-semite Jules Guerin organized street violence with his
People's Army.

7. Major Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy was found guilty by Lt. Col. Georges
Picquart, but was later acquitted by a military court.

8. Many historians argue that Dreyfus's being a Jew was not the crucial
element in the campaign against him, which was essentially a struggle
between opposing social classes, a struggle between army, Church and
establishment against republican forces.  Within the context of Jewish
history, the Dreyfus Affair can be seen as a catalyst of modern
political Zionism.

9. The Boers in South Africa.

10. Cathay (cf. Russian _Kitayets_ 'Chinese').

11.  Wissotsky Tea Co. was founded in Moscow in 1858 and continues to

12.  Hilda Abel (in Howe and Greenberg, p. 188) translates as "pongee,"
which the _American Heritage Dictionary_ defines as "A soft thin cloth
woven from Chinese or Indian raw silk or an imitation thereof."  Another
reader suggests that _shantung_ may be meant.  The _American Heritage
Dictionary_ defines _shantung_ as 1. "A heavy fabric with a rough nubby
surface, made of spun wild silk." 2. "A rayon or cotton fabric that is
imitative of this silk fabric."

13.  _nakidke_ is found in Stutshkoff, p. 522, in a large semantic group
which includes _yupe_ 'short overcoat for men'; jacket for women'
[Harkavi, p. 252]; _delye_ 'a large cloak with long sleeves' [Harkavi,
p. 172], _lakhman_ 'wide garment' [Harkavi, p. 268], and others.

14. _parusine_ 'sail-cloth'; 'canvass'

15.  _HaTsefiro_ [also spelled _Ha-Zefira_] lasted (with breaks) from
1862-1931.  Starting as a weekly, it became one of the first daily
Hebrew-language newspapers.  The name is often understood as meaning
'dawn' [cf. the Aramaic etymon _tsafro_].  It was published in Warsaw
and edited by the talented Nakhum Sokolow (1859-1936).  It played an
important role in the development of the Hebrew press and the Zionist

16. Hebrew 'and it was day'.

17. "vetshni poselenye" Cf. Pol. _wieczny posielenie_ 'eternal exile'

18. The wordplay here is best seen when we divide this comic
invention into its parts: frantse+hoyzn+dike. The first two elements
are a slight distortion of the Yiddish plural noun for
'French', namely _frantsoyzn_.  The intruded /e/ gives us _frantse_ as
in Y. _frantse|vate_ 'syphilitic' (Y. _frantsn_ = 'venereal disease')
and _hoyzn_ is Yiddish for 'pants'. "syphilitic pants" then becomes a
nickname for the French.

19. Hebrew for 'After the trial there is nothing."

20. -- tut ne zhidivska shkola, zhidi parhhatye, tut ne kahal
shakhermakheri!... 'You mangy Jews, this is no Jewish school, no
meeting place for crooked dealings'.

21.  Lt.  Col.  Marie-Georges Piquart, though a thoroughgoing antisemite
was interested in uncovering the facts of the case.  He found Esterhazy
guilty but an army court brushed aside his evidence and acquitted

22. General August Mercier, Minister of War in 1894; author of sham
file against Dreyfus.

23. Peli.  Perhaps Pellier?  Unidentified. Historical person?

24. General Charles Gonse, Deputy Chief of Staff; an anti-Dreyfusard.

25.  Hilda Abel in her translation of this story in the Howe and
Greenberg anthology makes the Kasrilevkeites into veritable Chelmites in
writing that they believed that anyone whose name ended with an /i/
sound was a general; what they say is that if one is a general his name
ends in an /i/ vowel.

26.  General Raoul Francois Charles Le Monton de Boisdeffre was Army
Chief of Staff 1893-8.  He ignored Picquart's evidence.

27. Hebrew 'May they be destroyed.'

28.  Emile Zola deserves much of the credit for bringing the fate of
Dreyfus to public attention and for galvanizing republican and liberal
forces in France and abroad against the anti-Dreyfus conspiracy.
Found guilty of libeling the army, he was sentenced to prison and
escaped to England, where he remained until exonerated.

29. SA mispelled name.  Labori -- not Lambori -- was Dreyfus's lawyer and an
attempt was made on his life as indicated in the story.

30. Hebrew 'praise': a special prayer recited on the Sabbath and
holidays, made up of selections from Psalms.

Date:  13 April 2001
From:  Leonard Prager 
Subject: Hugo Blumberg Becomes Ugo da Montefeltro

Czernowitz has given the world many a colorful character.  Andre Aciman
in his delightful memoir, _Out of Egypt_ (New York:  Farrar Straus
Giroux, 1994) has written about one such figure (who even has a
connection -- albeit remote -- to Yiddish journalism):

"This was Egypt's most powerful stockbroker, the man whom the country's
European and Egyptian elites trusted with their dreams of fortune...."
[p. 177].

"Ugo da Montefeltro was born Hugo Blumberg in Czernowitz.  Like many
gifted Rumanians of his generation, he had emigrated to Turkey in
pursuit of petty business ventures, none of which got him anywhere
except to Palestine, where he arrived as a correspondent for a Yiddish
publication in the Ukraine that folded before he had even written his
first article." [pp. 178-9]

[Can any reader identify this journal?  - ed.]

"His next stop was Egypt.  The charming young man had a gift for
languages and song, and soon enough became a stockbroker for Egypt's
French and Italian communities.  In a matter of four years, he had
become a very wealthy man.  Always wary of dangers facing Jews, Signor
Ugo and his wife changed their surname in the wake of a series of
antisemitic incidents in Cairo.  They had intended to change Blumberg,
which in German meant mountain of flowers, to its Italian equivalent,
Montefiore, and would have lived quite happily with that name had a good
friend not reminded them that nothing was more Jewish than the House of
Montefiore."  [p. 179].

Blumberg was then briefly a "de Montfleury" -- until he learned that
there were two playwrights, father and son, with that name (their real
family name was "Jacob" and they were objects of Cyrano de Bergerac's
utter scorn).  Hugo Blumberg then finally settled on Ugo de Montefeltro.
His desire to remain in Egypt was so strong that he converted to Greek
Orthodoxy in the hope of escaping the growing anti-Jewish restrictions
in the country after 1948.

Date: 13 April 2001
From: Lucus Bruyn 
Subject: _kozles_ 'coachman's box'

We have received the following note regarding the word _kozles_
mentioned in Meyer Wolf's comments in _TMR_ 5.003.

Yekheskl Kotik writes in his _mayne zikhroynes_ (Vol II, Chapt. 3):

"dem balegoles geshreyen hobn geholfn. der oylem hot zikh vi es iz
arayngezetst, un ikh bin aroyfgekrokhn oyf di kozles, nebn balegole, un
zikh dort anidergezetst, di fis aropgehangen un mit di hent zikh shtark
ongehaltn, ikh zol nisht aropfaln."

['The coachman's shouting had its effect.  Everybody settled down
somehow, and I clambered up onto the box where I sat down next to the
coachman, with my legs dangling down holding on to the seat for dear
life in order not to fall off.']
End of _The Mendele Review_ 05.004

Leonard Prager, editor

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