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[Page 165]

The Massada in Israel

by Dr. Siegmund Last (Vienna)

Translated by Jerome Silverbush

The reactivation of Massada in its own land was not without problems which can be understood in view of the difficulties every immigrant has to overcome upon entering Israel. Almost every newly arrived friend of Massada had to struggle for a time until he settled in. Only a few came with sufficient means to Israel. Every change costs time and effort.

When I arrived in Tel Aviv in December 1943, I started immediately to reactivate the Czernowitz Massada. I sought out the old friends, but very few had left the Gola (Diaspora), so at first the work was very difficult.

Tres faciunt collegium! At that time there were only three friends and to be sure: Engineer Salzinger, Moses Horowitz and least important, me, who were trying to reactivate the Massada. We met repeatedly in the Café San Remo on the beach and decided to recruit the other friends of Massada who were in the land to help us. After months, we finally succeeded in winning the friends Engineer Abraham Klier, Sigmund Trichter, Iby Naftalison and Josef Schieber to our ideas. The charter of the Massada in Israel, to be sure was limited, but there were always lecturers given by members and outsiders like Dr. Groneman and others which were well received. Lectures by our friend Manfred Reifer deserve special mention.

A great achievement in the history of the Massada in Israel was the celebration of the 80th birthday of Dr. Mayer Ebner, an honorary member of Massada and Zionist leader, which was attended by approximately 1000 people and which will remain unforgettable to all participants and friends of the Massada. To make this a successful occasion, all members of the Massada, but especially the friends Moses Horowitz, Dr. Emanuel Wagner, Max Wagner, Martin Scharfstein, Mag. J. Melzer and Dr. Siegmund Last worked very hard. The honoree, Dr. Mayer Ebner always repeated his special thankfulness, in what an elevating way the Massada understood the occasion of his birthday and how to honor it.

As a consequence, the following new friends were taken into the circle of the Massada: Dr. Israel Taubes, Chaim Geller, Feiwel Eifermann and Samuel Albin. Dr. Taubes, the son of the well known publicist Löbl Taubes was an outstanding Zionist propagandist and a brilliant speaker, Chaim Geller was a high officer of Histadruth and well known correspondent of the ITA, Eifermann, a respected Zionist agitator and student of Hebrew knowledge and finally Samuel Albin who was very active in the field of social work.

Dr. Israel Taubes became president during the first year of the Massada's existence. He as well as his successor, Dr. Elias Weinstein were successful in lifting the niveau of the Massada and regaining for it the reputation it always had.

One of the significant accomplishments of the Massada that must be mentioned is the “Hebrew Debate Course,” instituted by the friends Dr. Chaim Ehrlich and Dr. Emanuel Wagner and which was very successful. The number of participants grew continually in part because of the number of members who had completed the Ulpan course and understandably wanted to perfect their knowledge of the language of the country. The influence in this area of the well known scholar Professor Rabinowicz , whose research in Rambam (Maymonides) was among the best in modern times, was considerable.

The corona of the Massada in Israel counted the following friends as its members:

Dr. Leon Engler, Prof. S. Dachner, Dr. A. Braunstein, M. Dresdner, S. Wronsky, Mag. J. Melzer, Dr. Emanuel Wagner, Max Wagner, Martin Scharfstein, Dr. Leo Schächter, Dr. Elias Weinstein, Dr. Israel Taubes, B. Engler, S. Woraczek, Moses Horowitz, Dr. Siegmund Last, Josef Schieber, Benjamin Schieber, Engineer Abraham Klier, Dr. Chaim Ehrlich, Dr. Otto Brück, Dr. Lipa Wiznitzer, A. Selzer, Prof. Dr. Hermann Sternberg, E. Weiser, Chaim Geller, Chaim Lerner, Feiwel Eifermann, Dr. David Taubes, N. Meller and Samuel Albin.

Death had thinned our ranks and torn away from us the friends: Dr. Manfred Reifer, Sigmund Trichter, Nieu Biedermann, Emil Korn, Engineer Rubin Margulies, Dr. Saul Klier, B. Metsch and Iby Naftalison . We will always honor these friends in our memories.

While the Massada of the past no longer formally exists, the bonds of friendship between the members of the Massada in Israel and those in the Golah (Diaspora) remains unchanged.

Not official meetings and functions hold the old members of the Massada together for eternity, but the common experiences, the common suffering and the hope for a golden future for all Massada friends in Israel.

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