[with comments in brackets]
(A paper about his two works, Collapse or Rebuild and 1960)
An apologetic beginning
In Zalman Reyzen's lexicon there is no information given about the life of the writer Y. L. [Yoel Lajb] Goldsztejn, the author of three published books (Collapse or Rebuild a fantastic novel, 1960 a utopia, and With Face to the Mirror Three Stories). One knows roughly that he was born in the eighties of the past century, was physically weak and had a guten kop [literally a good head] and he studied a lot. He was self taught. He lived almost his entire life in Belchatow, and was a teacher and a book dealer there. Ideologically, he was a Tzeirei Zion, and during the Second Aliyah he immigrated to Eretz Israel, from where he returned considerably disappointed (which also is reflected in his works). However, he didn't fully lose his belief in Eretz Israel, and he believed he could find the right way to solve not only the Jewish problem, but the entire world question. And with his work he really intended to solve the main problems of mankind in general and the Jewish people in particular. It is thought that Y. L. Goldsztejn died in 1940.
Of the three works that Y. L. Goldsztejn left in book form, we are only personally familiar with two: Collapse or Rebuild and 1960. I have never seen With Face to the Mirror, and I don't know what kind of a character the Three Stories of this book have and when the book was published. My work was therefore reduced to two papers about the two works by the Belchatow Jewish author that were known to me. I must remark that I once wrote a treatise about Collapse or Rebuild, in which I used a lot of sharper words than I use today. And one should not find a contradiction in the two. Then I wrote about a living man with whom I could argue, while today I write about a man who is dead and whom one must rescue from being completely forgotten.
According to what was just said, the author did not intend to create a work, but to give his views. And he really asks the reader that, when he finishes reading the book, he should extend his hand and help make a reality (he doesn't say what to make a reality, but we understand he means the ideals which he preaches in Rebuild). This work occupies two large volumes, one with 565 pages and the other with 657 pages. And although there is a lot of discussion in both books, the essential idea is barely brought out in a few dozen pages, and the bulk of the over 1200 pages is dedicated to the treatment and description of the heroes. If the chief goal of writing was his ideas, he could have been brief with the fictional part and written at length the idealistic part. One must realize that although Y. L. Goldsztejn set up ideological goals with his writing, he was really a fiction writer.
It must be said at the outset, that in the treatment of the story the novel is not fantastic, but thoroughly realistic. Only at the very end of the work is something described which never occurred in life and which the author saw in his fantasy, namely: when the people were called for the Second World War, they did not want to go and they followed the call of peace. The author wrote the above-mentioned five years before the war broke out, and that was his utopia (or fantasy) which unfortunately did not become reality.
Really, only the conclusion is fantastic, but the entire story is like a fairy tale, which gives the impression that the essential concept was taken from an old book or a folktale.
It takes place in the Shtetl Stawek. A Jewish shopkeeper borrows money from a Christian peasant, and, because he finds himself in a difficult financial situation, he partially denies his debt. The farmer complains to the ksiadz [priest (Polish)], and the Christian pastor goes to discuss the problem with the [religious] leader of the Jewish community. Both leaders are unusual men. The Christian priest [galech (Yiddish)], Leo Janson, is an educated tolerant man and he even has inclinations to heresy [apikorsut]. The rabbi, Tanchum Zemach, is a great scholar, and he speaks fluent Polish, is a do-gooder [mazeg tov], and is clever and has all good qualities.
The rabbi is already an old man and he has a twenty year old daughter, for whom he had prayed to G-d for eight years until he got his prayers answered. The daughter, who is called Brochele, is pretty and clever and also has no fewer good qualities than her father. And the priest is also young and, in addition to all his other aforementioned qualities, is handsome. And a love flickers between these two young people which brings much misfortune and almost destroys all of Stawek.
At first, he [the Rabbi] does not pay much attention to what is happening, and he maintains the best friendship with the priest, and the forbidden love flickers stronger and stronger. Sparks turn into flames. Violin and piano (the priest plays both), the moon and stars, and Polish poetry and world poetry accompany the love which in the end will stop bringing joy and good fortune and will only bring sadness and misfortune.
Brochele is already in the matchmaking process [shiduchim]; at first she found means to reject all the candidates, giving various excuses those who were fools and those whom she flat out didn't like. One time it was embarrassing, when the father and the future bridegroom were to come and it [the shiduch] was set aside.
In the end, nothing helps, and the rabbi's daughter must become a bride. And they arrange an engagement. She disappears from the celebration and struggles within herself, and [then she] comes back and, only after [this struggle], runs away with her lover.
The priest and the rabbi's daughter travel to America through Romania. They find themselves in the port city Constantza, where they both live the punishment of the wicked after death [khibut hakever]. She knew that her running away from her father's house means bringing in the Angle of Death, because there ruled the very dry law without compromise, without logic and without flexibility. She once went away from [her] home for three days, and, coming home [to her father's house], she met another father, a greyer one, a frightened one. He looked at her with such eyes, as one who stands by a fire and sees that everything of his is destroyed. The father had rushed with the marriage of the daughter because he wanted in that way to rescue her from the priest's hand and he hastened her running away. And also the young priest suffered, because what he had done caused much pain for his friend, the rabbi. They [Brochele and the priest] felt like two criminals who have committed a murder and whose conscience does not stop tormenting them. They wanted to console themselves by talking themselves into the idea that they gave to the two victims her father and mother the great idea of freedom and love for all mankind. They decided to fight capitalism and false faiths, and they thought that this would be easy to achieve. They did not understand why this had not been accomplished until now. If not for the belief in the realization of their new religion, they would have collapsed under the load of their suffering. They tried to create a movement for their beliefs, and they knew that they must write a fundamental work about it. But they decided in the meanwhile to write down a sketch and give it to a literary authority and at the same time to continue with the verbal propaganda. They should have given their work the name Out of Hell, but they decided to give it the name from her father's book, The Eternal Shabbat.
The work on the book gave them consolation. They were eager like little children to finish their treatise, but the work dragged out because of a variety of reasons and also because of the arrival of a child. The child brought them comfort of another kind. Before the child came, he used to fear leaving her alone in the room; he continually thought that she would commit suicide. Now he did not have that fear anymore. And she really changed. Although she was sick and broken, occasionally she would smile. The child had become for them in great measure, The Eternal Shabbat.
In publishing their work, they ran into problems. The publisher to whom they gave it said that he would not publish anything that was illegal. Their ideas were ridiculed, and they were warned to be careful not to land in a Romanian jail. They decided to publish the book at their own expense, and the government confiscated it. When it was in print, it was neither easy nor cheap to keep them from being arrested.
And then Brochele began talking about returning to Poland. She was certain that they had changed so much that no one would recognize them. She is called Mariana and he Constantine Binke, and they have papers with these names, and there isn't any danger. He believed that in Poland it would be easier for them to publish their book and to realize their idea. But he did not want her to be close to Stawek. Because of the book, they had to travel. Because of the child, they could not travel. Her heart was terrified by what had happened in her home. He also thought that he had carried out a bloody piece of work.
And they were not mistaken. Her mother was soon paralyzed, and she died, as the father said, with a twisted [crooked] mouth. The father, alone, fell into melancholy and went into a stormy confused mourning that bordered on madness. The old rabbi saw all sorts of hallucinations. He sang songs together with the Gilgalim [transmigrated souls], and he saw how his wife, the mother of the sinful daughter, struggled in the claws of the demons and [how] the devil [samech mem] rules over her. He cries out:
You doors of hell open up, your fires will never go out.
The only remedy would be if the daughter would die. He saw such pictures that he talked in a faltering way, and, in the shtetl, the people knew that the rabbi was deranged. All the students and friends who came and consoled the rabbi and the committee which had attempted to guard him and to feed him, got weary. The rabbi was abandoned by everyone except for his only faithful student, the shining Aryeh Meir Jakubowski. When he would burst into tears, the rabbi would eat something.
And the daughter and the son-in-law had come back to Poland and settled down in Lodz. Leo traveled alone to Stawek. Brochele was not strong enough to make the trip. And the former priest saw that the mother was dead and the rabbi was out of his mind, and he came back to his wife and admitted to her that there was no one to travel to. He did not tell her that her father was deranged. He told her that both of her parents were no more.
They had already made a plan to travel back to Romania, but because of the work, they remained a few more weeks. Brochele had once seen in Lodz her father's trusted friend, Jakubowski, and she started to go to him and fainted. She thought that he had not seen her. She was not even certain if she had really seen him. However, he did see her, and he reported it to the rabbi.
And when Leo and Brochele published the book, Leo was the first to travel, and Brochele was supposed to follow him. One time, he thought that Jakubowski told the rabbi that his daughter was in Lodz, and therefore he was frightened and turned around. But, after he convinced himself that nothing happened, he continued his trip. On the way, he was arrested. He was sent back, was confused, and he did not know where he was in the world. He felt guilty toward his wife and child, and he told the doctor in the hospital, Madam, the child is also dead. And they assumed that he had really killed his wife and child, and they put him in jail.
And the old rabbi traveled to Lodz and went to his daughter and spoke harshly to her of Jewish law and punishment. The meeting between the two was a nightmare. They hardly recognized each other, since both were so aged and changed. And the daughter fainted and died. Earlier he had yelled at the daughter that she was worthy of death; now he wanted to resurrect her from death. Crying over the death of the daughter, the rabbi's glance fell on the child, and he had the crazy thought of killing it. But he gained control of himself and felt that one must not destroy the sinner but the sin. And he felt a stormy urge to rescue the child and circumcise him and make him into a Jew; and he took him and left and carried out a conspiratorial piece of work with rare impetuousness, and he gave the child to his trusted friend, Jakubowski, together with the dowry that he had prepared for the daughter. When he comes back to himself, he sees the fearful hallucinations, and when he recovers a little he says to the daughter, My child, in the world I have evened up the account; now I am coming there to help you.
In his house, he again loses his thoughts, and when a janitor comes to get information from him, he can't find out anything from him, and in the city they assume that the priest had really killed his wife and the child. And the old rabbi with the confused thoughts wanted to be together with his daughter, and the only way for him to achieve this was to commit suicide, but according to Jewish law a suicide would lose a place in heaven and would be sent to hell, and he began to throw his holy books on the ground. Also, he threw down his work Day of Eternal Shabbat, and he poured kerosene on the whole pile of books. And together with the Torah scrolls and with the lamp from the table which he extinguished and from which he took off the glass, throws himself on the martyr's pyre, and he does not stop saying, so acts a father, a simple man. It is dark in the room and he sees before him his daughter like a dead solemn dove. He finds a light, ignites it, wants to stand it up between the books, but it does not want to stand, so he puts it on the kerosene soaked books. A few drops fall down, it takes a long time, and the pile does not ignite. The flame licks the kerosene and jumps away [not igniting]. He questions himself; perhaps he is doing a bad thing. Perhaps he should get off the books and remove the flame. He thought about confessing his sins, but after long deliberation the whole pile went up in flames. A terrible burning engulfed his hand, and he let down the Torah scroll and lifted his hand. His back started to burn, and so he died in the flames. All that remained of him was a black mass, not at all like the form of a man. All the books were burned. The surrounding houses caught on fire. A two-year-old twin was burned and the mother lost her senses. The synagogue, the church, the entire market, and most of the streets burned. Stawek was gone with the smoke.
And such a fire was caused by the love between the priest and the rabbi's daughter. The priest was cynically interrogated in the court, and, being certain that he had murdered his wife and child, he was condemned to eternal imprisonment.
With that ended the first volume with the two parts. The second volume describes the life of the son of forbidden love, who was called Tanchum, after his grandfather, and Meyrantz, after the name of the Jew who adopted him. Tanchum the second was described as a child with extraordinary capabilities and with crazy inclinations. He gets along well also with the non-Jewish children and is inclined to the mystic. Until he was four years old, he was in the house of a Jew called Baruch Meyrantz, and afterwards Jakubowski took him in and raised him together with his little boy Gabriel, who was older than the rabbi's grandchild by a few months, and with his daughter Chavetche, who was one year and six months old.
Jakubowski's wife controlled herself with all her strength not to have a bad relationship with the bastard, and she imagined her Gabriel like an orphan, but her antipathy slipped out. And that probably had an effect on the character of the boy, who made friends with Gabriel and whom he made a partner to his bizarre activities. Tanchum did not want to eat any meat, and then Gabriel also did not want to eat it. And when Tanchum carried away the chicken that was to be slaughtered and put it in the forest, Gabriel took responsibility for it and was punished.
Tanchum had extraordinary capabilities, and he became a scholar and a Kabbalist. Gabriel was often jealous of him and wanted to keep pace with him. Gabriel became sick, and they spent on him everything that was in the house. And Jakubowski decided to ask permission from Tanchum to take his money to save Gabriel, but from where he had the money and where he took it, he did not tell him. Tanchum was so angry that they were asking for his money that he decided that when Gabriel became healthy he would leave the house. But Gabriel did not get well. Earlier, one of his feet was amputated and then, later, the other one. Rolling on the ground, Gabriel told his friend that he did not believe in G-d. And, as a non-believer, he died in great agony.
The First World War had already broken out. Tanchum's sacred structure, his belief, had started to waver. He could not forget the words that Gabriel told him. You, a mortal, sacrificed yourself for me. And G-d, the compassionate and gracious one, tortures [me] . And the war had reached Stawek, and our hero found himself between the opposing armies, who turned the road into a bloody slaughter-house, and a voice called to him: Go, go don't permit any more slaughter, go, go, they must stop the slaughter. And there at that time, when the old Jakubowski felt that he would be killed, he told Tanchum where he came from. He was afraid that he would marry his daughter Chavetche, and he demanded from him an agreement that he would not marry her, and for that reason he told him about his lineage. According to the agreement that he had with the rabbi, he was supposed to have told him when he was Bar-Mitzvah, but he did not have the courage to do it then. After the agreement with Tanchum, Jakubowski feels remorseful and pardons him and asks him to marry his daughter.
Then Tanchum gets extraordinary strength and, with a wild outburst of courage, rescues Jakubowski and his wife and Chavetche. He convinces a German officer that he should let him guide his unit to a place where there was Russian military, and the officer lets himself be persuaded and he arrives at the right time and rescues them.
After the war, Tanchum becomes a Zionist and ultimately travels to Eretz Israel. Chavetche, who always believed that he would become her husband, does not go with him, but she writes to him. In Israel, many disappointments await him, and he grapples with them. Chiefly, he was afraid that the Jews had to arrive in a land, awakening the hatred of the Arabs. (This was the chief reason for his disappointment and the basis for his book, 1960.) He was so shocked by the hatred that, during a discussion in a colony that was located near Mount Tabor, he says that we must stop immigration into the land. Everyone jumps up and he asks for quiet. He says, The Jewish blood is still not dry in Ukrainian fields. The Arabs also want to do that [kill us]. They are millions and we are thousands. He spoke his thoughts out and also before an English officer, who silently agreed with him. And he preached in Israel for a sort of order that would have three solutions: amor, libre, stziyo (love, liberty, knowledge). Actually, those were the same ideas that his father had advocated. He stated his ideas in a brochure that was called Collapse or Rebuild. And he demanded first reconstructing the psychology of mankind.
In Israel, Tanchum made friends with a Jew with the name Ezra Kosmola, who was the very opposite of him. One was very pious, the other very cynical. One mild, harmonious, and warm the other a giant, a wild one, a brutal one. When Kosmola advocated his cynicism and disbelief and people reacted angrily, Tanchum defended him with words and calmed the crowd, and they remained friends. Idealogically, they wanted to destroy each other, but personally, they helped each other.
Tanchum went back to Poland preaching his ideas. Kosmola also came back on a later ship, and he continuously tried to convince him that outside of vile things [nemeinkeit], man possesses nothing. And, in spite of his own will, Kosmola brought together his pious friend with his [the friend's] father, the former priest, Leo Janson from Stawek.
The former priest was in prison for 20 years, and, when he found out a million dollar inheritance awaited him in America, a lawyer won his release. The millionaire Aba Tzemach died in America and left his entire fortune to the Polish priest Leo Janson. The former priest came out of prison bitter at many things and mainly Jewish fanaticism, and he could not forgive himself for not seeing what was going to happen. He should have understood how far Jewish fanaticism would go. But he had not lost his belief to be able to change mankind and educate them against capitalism and false faiths and he had also not lost his hope to find his son.
He traveled to America, where in Chicago he got the great inheritance, and there he found out that Aba Tzemach, who had given him the inheritance, was the brother of the Staweker rabbi, and he had fallen from the path and he was his father. He had raised him as Johnson and as a Christian, because he did not want him to suffer as a Jew. In the sealed envelope which he opened, he read:
Leon Janson, you are my son, my only son, whom I have never forgotten in my sad life. You are a Jew born from a Jewish father and a Jewish mother. I had to bring you up as a Christian.
Leo travelled back to Poland, but on the way back he stopped in Eretz Israel. And there he met with Kosmola and they traveled back to Poland on the same ship. The Jewish cynic was strangely surprised to see how this Pole advocates the same ideas as Tanchum and he draw upon several earnest people [to support] his ideas. He wanted to bring Tanchum together with him, but he reconsidered and thought it would strengthen their work, so he did not do it.
But the father and the son did meet each other. Kosmola brought them together. Tanchum had given a talk, and Leo heard him. He looked exactly like his mother. And when Tanchum told him that he was the grandchild of a rabbi and the son of a priest, he fell on him and said that he was his father. Kosmola wanted to shoot them both, and he wrestled with himself for a long time and finally committed suicide. He did not have the courage to shoot them, and he could not make up his mind to go with them, so he removed himself and left the way free for them.
And the Movement grew bigger. Only a few thousand copies of Tanchum's brochure, Collapse or Rebuild, were distributed, but when the father came to help with his capital, the organization was able to put out a weekly publication which quickly became a daily paper and soon, in another European land, a daily paper of similar characteristics appeared and a well organized apparatus was formed. Then the fantastic part started, which told how the ideas from Rebuild had conquered and millions joined the Organization. Governments took over the re-building of their lands in compliance with the principals of the organization, borders were wiped away, and people hugged each other with love. And when a conflict arose between two governments and it came to an ultimatum and there was talk of cannons and gas clouds, the world trembled for joy. Tanchum, the president of the great organization, gave a command that a million men should march out to the threatened border and make a living wall of peace with white flags. And so it was done. And orchestras played and cordial kisses and hearty handshakes were the order of the day. And a plan was proposed to which all governments agreed, that the first land which the new movement rebuilds should receive all ammunition and chemicals, and the people should remain disarmed and, with that, war should be ended.
When Tanchum came back from Eretz Israel, Chavetche had a fiancé, a communist. And although he still loved her, he made a sacrifice and left her behind and alone went away to his work for love, freedom and knowledge. He grew with his work and the Organization grew larger and stronger. Chavetche came to him, a broken woman. She had helped her fiancé kill a young man who was also in love with her, because he suspected him of being a spy. Afterwards, her fiancé convinced himself that the young man was innocent, and he committed suicide. Tanchum allowed his former fiancée to become a member of his organization and she had displayed great heroism and self-sacrifice. Friends published a brochure for her called, Chavetche Jakubowski. She had lain sick in a hospital and she wanted to see him. He went to her with the brochure and she called to him, President. She told him that she was dying. Tanchum said to call him by his name, and said to her that the time had come when she could laugh again and that she would not die. And two professors were brought to her and rendered a diagnosis which was neither happy nor hopeless. And she was saved.
One, however, whom Moloch [the Angel of Death] did not release from his claws, was Tanchum's father. The president of the great organization was overwhelmed by Chavetche's return to health. Then he enthusiastically told her about resurrection from the dead, and he pointed out to her how many million people left their graves (among them were, really, Nero and Torquemada and Johan the horrible, but there also were good ones, Moshe, Isaiah, and Jesus), and all said that thousands of deaths cannot weaken the happiness of one minute of life. Then, his father had to die. He said to him:
My son, so is the fatal destiny of mankind. When I wanted to die, I was forced to live and when the new land beckons, life slips away from me.
And the old one saw Brochele, heard her singing Mitskevitch's Dream, and he died.
The book ended with the words: Moloch had triumphed again.
The evil of mankind father and son defeated, but the evil of the cosmos, Death, they were not able to defeat.
So there you have the contents of the over-1200-pages-thick book that the author considered a sketch. And the idea of a rebuilt world is only developed in a sketchy way. Both in the places of father and son's work and in their talk, there was agitation against fanaticism, false creeds, against capitalism, dictatorship, against war, for a world with love, freedom and knowledge. How that is all to be achieved is not stated. The capital that Leo inherited helped to achieve the rebuilding and rescued the world from destruction, when the Second World War had threatened.
The same publishing house, Books, that in 1934 published Collapse or Rebuild, in 1939 published 1960, which had no more than 74 pages.
Just from the title one can see that here a utopia is dealt with. The author wants to imagine what it will be like in the year 1960, 21 years after he wrote his book. The essence is here again an idea, but he expresses it through a story. A Jew wanted to commit suicide and cut his throat, lay rescued in the hospital, and, when he comes back to consciousness, the doctor asks him why he picked this particular moment, exactly one year after the catastrophe, to commit suicide and why he did not seek to take along into the grave a few enemies. The catastrophe was that hooligans broke into his house and murdered his two sons and shot him, but not to death. The daughter threw herself on one of the murderers with an iron bar. He saw how they dragged his daughter to a stream, and when he later came to consciousness, there were no more sons and no more daughter.
And the rescued one does not answer directly. He tells about his thoughts which pained him. He had not stopped thinking about his people, who consist of less than 17 million individuals, dispersed over the world, who do not have their own land and who were blamed for every unhappiness. He went back to the Middle Ages. He heard how the new German Chancellor said, One must suppress the Jews. It became clear to him that the Führer wanted to found a new religion and to destroy the Christian religion. He had to humiliate and degrade the race that Jesus originated from. And the Jewish people did not stir themselves. Apparently Bialik was right when he says: [quoted first in Bialik's original Hebrew] (He will not rise up unless the devil stands him up, and he will not wake up unless the whip wakes him up.) He thought about Palestine. These words alone had robbed him of more than one night's sleep. And he brought much clarity and sharpness out of this thought that he started to express in Collapse or Rebuild. Palestine, he said, is a small land, a poor and mountainous land without natural riches. In almost all colonized lands, the colonist receives free land and even free livestock and equipment. And in Palestine, the colonist is forced to buy a small piece of inferior land (a dunam), for the highest value (pounds). After what the Jews put into the land, a sum of 20 million pounds, ninety-five percent of the land is in Arab hands. Eretz Israel has 70% Arabs, and when the land has one million Jews, there will be around two million Arabs. In a span of 14 years, 250 thousand Arabs have settled in Eretz Israel and none have left. Ben Gurion said that the 300 thousand Jews who were brought into the land made it possible for the same number of Arabs to enter. And if two million Jews should be brought in, in a short period to create a Jewish majority, the land will have 1.5 million Arabs, and they will always be underprivileged and will wish to establish the approximate hundred million Muslims from Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Tunis . The Arabs are in total 23 times as numerous as the Jews. The land is surrounded on three sides by Muslims, and the little state will find itself constantly crowded by neighbors and be threatened from within. For Jews in Palestine, he thought, really the body and the soul, but the Jewish people who were for hundreds of years killed and humiliated by the Christians may not fight against an enemy of one half billion people (he calculates a thousand million equals one billion, J.B.). He thought that then, before his accident had occurred. And he had quickly seen into another world. He had lost the memory, and he found himself in the hospital of the new Jewish Republic, and he had a conversation with the nurse in which she assured him that he was recovering and he would become healthy. He thought that it was 22 years since then (that is, 22 years since 1938) and Jews have their own land which is called New Eretz Israel. And now, he finds himself in a hospital in that land. He read newspapers and a friend brought him a brochure that the 15 year old student, Chaim ben Naftali Yeri, had written, and he demanded that he should read it quickly. And he read in the brochure the story of Eretz Israel.
It is a story about how the hardware store owner, Daniel Barzel from Diselberg, witnessed in Tevet [4th month of the Jewish calendar] 1939 the persecution and murder of Jews in his land, and he sent a letter to the president of the United States, Oliver Franklin, in which he asks for a piece of land for the Jewish people because there is no lack of land in the United States, Australia, or somewhere else. He wrote to the president that in one part of the world a prophet had arisen, a prophet of hate and falsehood and that in another part of the world, a prophet of mercy and justice must appear, and he, the great president, must be that messiah ...
And Daniel Barzel sent the letter in Yiddish to the president who had someone read it to him, and the president wired the writer of the letter that he should come. And the Diselberg store owner came to the president, who received him in the presence of his friend, the great Zionist Rabbi Silver. And he had a deep and significant discussion with the Zionist leader about Eretz Israel and he convinced him that at the moment when millions of Jews want to be in a Jewish land, the Arabs want to stop fighting the Jews in Palestine, and the enmity between the two peoples will disappear. The discussion lasted for twenty days and Rabbi Silver did not call his opponent traitor one time. And that one did not get flustered. He could not stop thinking that before the noose is thrown around Jewish necks all Jews must disappear from the eyes of the people and live by themselves. And he defeated the obstinacy of Rabbi Silver, and Silver convinced other Zionist leaders, and a questionnaire was distributed to all Jews and 80% said that a Jewish state should be created, not necessarily in Palestine. The Jewish people saw the sword which hung over their heads and they realized the danger, and they started a great movement to settle in their own new land which consisted of an area of one hundred thousand square kilometer in Canada. And the Jews could not forgive themselves that they did not do this a thousand years ago; they would have avoided the Spanish Inquisition, the Ukrainian mass graves, the German slaughter. And women took off their jewelry, and hundreds of thousands of young men and women joined the Pioneers. At no time since they were dispersed, said the author, was there ever such unity as then (also before they were dispersed there was no unity, J. B.). The Franklin Declaration, and being freed from troubles and need, had welded them together into one people.
And in that brochure was described how anti-Semitism disappeared from the entire world press and how unemployment disappeared in all of Canada. And in the new Eretz Israel, the Arabs are the shop keepers because the Jews do not want to be shop keepers and they bought Arab land in Eretz Israel for farms in all Eretz Israel.
And the dream continued. He became healthy and went out and freely saw the great joy that rules in the Jewish land and the great celebrations that were held. And when he awoke he read in a newspaper that in Gliwice the Nazis set fire to a synagogue and three Jews were burned to death. In Vienna, three synagogues were burnt down and mass arrests took place and Jews committed suicide. He did not know if he was in a Nazi museum, or if he saw the reality and that which he saw earlier was a dream. And then it was horribly painful to him and he lost all desires and wanted to quickly commit suicide, and he grabbed a knife and cut his throat. This story ends with the words which the hero said to the doctor:
Listen, dear doctor, it will be hard for me to live now, after what I have seen in that beautiful free world, although it was only a dream. Go to the Jews and tell them: We the grey men call to them: Jewish people, it was only a dream, but it will not remain a dream if you yourself do not want to disappear like a dream.
It is not necessary to point out that life turned out differently than Y. L. Goldsztejn had anticipated. The Second World War came, and the masses did not follow the call of the pacifists, and tens of millions of people died and almost all of Europe and great pieces of Asia were destroyed. And now one talks of a third world war, and it is unlikely that the masses will try and stop it, and the false creeds with the dictators rule with more strength. The main problem of humanity today is not death that nature brings, only the mass death which man alone brings upon himself. And also, Jews did not follow Goldsztejn and they did not build another land; instead they built purposely Eretz Israel, where today there are over one million Jews and less than 150 thousand Arabs. And although the Arabs remain stubborn and do not recognize the Jewish land, their obstinacy is substantially broken by reality.
And so, the thoughts which Goldsztejn expressed are not uninteresting and they will remain as a document of the thoughts of a Jew, an intelligent man, at the start of the Hitler era at the beginning of 1939. The territorialistic leader Ben Adir also wrote similarly in Yiddish. And the European Jewish people were really wiped out. It would have been better if Goldsztejn had been a real prophet. We will remember him as an upright Jew who had the courage to speak out his thoughts and who thought that reason was enough to solve the most difficult problems. However, man lives not by reason, but by instinct, which sometimes leads to life and sometimes to death. Although life turned out differently than Y. L. Goldsztejn had demanded, he was not incorrect and woe to the correctness.
It is not the aim of this work to assess the artistic worth of the two books that I have reviewed. Their goal is not artistic, and one must not judge their value on the basis of their artistic qualities. The author was not interested in how but in what. He wrote in a straightforward and clear manner and with temperament and passion. In his way of story telling he is comparable to Dinezon and even with Shamir. His language was more modern, comparable to that used by the current Jewish pamphleteers. It appears to me that linguistically his writing is closest to that of Hillel Zeitliner, and it can also be said, idealogically he was not far from him. One can also find in him ideological influences from Peretz and from Zhitlowsky and even from the aforementioned Ben Adir. He had the temperament of an artist. When the treatment had to have fire, he gave it fire! The scenes in Collapse or Rebuild that describe how the half crazed rabbi goes to the daughter when she is a broken soul with her gentile child in Lodz and precipitates her death and how he rescues the child and how he burns himself together with his books are able to kindle the imagination. While he was writing, the writer was burning [with passion]. And it appears to me that this is the strongest compliment that one can give Y. L. Goldsztejn the writer:
He possessed a genuine ardor which burned in him alone.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Belchatow, Poland Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright ©1999-2014 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 2 Aug 2008 by LA