Shimen Shifris was one of 11 children living in Godlbozhits, a fictionalized shtetl in Poland.During World War I, his father was hanged by the Cossacks while his mother was giving birth to his 10th sibling. When his mother, Henele, found out later what had happened to her husband “she accepted this misfortune almost with indifference. She said nothing; she neither cried, nor lamented, nor tore the hair from her head. She began to pray a lot, reciting her women’s prayers with a dry voice.”Then, one day, when no one was home, Shimen Shifris’s mother Henele threw herself off the balcony of their house and died. The newborn infant was given to a peasant woman in the village and the other children were distributed among relatives near and far. Shimen and his brother Nosn were taken in by their Aunt Mitshe, their mother’s sister.