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[Page 103]

Zionist Activity After the First World War

by Shmuel Goldberg

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

After the First World War, new winds started to blow in Klobuck. The Jewish youth became involved in several (social and political) movements: Zionism and Socialism. I came to the conclusion that the only solution for Jews (in Poland) was in Eretz Israel. I felt that in Poland the soil was “burning under our feet” (that there was no future). I was not the only one, as many Jews understood the situation and felt the same way.

The first religious Jew in Klobuck who wound up his businesses and left for Eretz Israel was Chaim Zeidman. The whole shtetl came to see him off.

Under the direction of Reb Itzik Chade, a society “Hachsharat HaYishouv” (Israel Land Development), to buy land in Eretz Israel, was established. Later the “Mizrachi” Organization was founded. In 1924, the first organized chapter of the Zionist worker party, “Hitachdut”, was established in Klobuck. Its leader was the son of Itzik Chade, Yankel.

I went to the first (meetings) at the premises rented by “Hitachdut”. There I learned Hebrew, listened to lectures about the history of the Zionism and learned how to implement the Zionist ideal. I was enlisted in the movement, and got involved in fund raising for the Eretz Israel, and participated in all of the tasks of the Zionist organization.

In 1925 the “Hitchadut” established its own “Hachsharah” (preparation for making Alyah to emigrate to Israel). The pioneers worked in the field of Reb Itzik Chade. People worked all week, and on Fridays the crop was sold to Jewish households. The leaders of the “Hitchadut” organization were: Avraham Goldberg, Shmuel Gliksman, Shmuel Goldberg, Shlomo Zigelbaum, Rachel Chade, Zisser Lapides, Chaim Kurland Shlomo Reiber, Yaacov Szperling, Itzik Leib Birenbaum.

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klo104.jpg
Shmuel Gliksman, shot in Bavaria
by the Germans on May 7th 1945

 

The “Tarbut Shul” (Cultural center) in Klobuck

In 1926 the “Gordonia” organization for the youth was established by the “Hitachdut”. A significant number of young people were enlisted in its cultural activities. The young men and women were provided with a spiritual (and intellectual) environment, in which books were made available to read in Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish. The discussions on Friday evenings are still in my memory.

We took a bold step in our cultural activities, and opened a “Tarbut Shul” (Cultural center). We brought in a special Hebrew teacher. He came from Stryj in Galicia. It was not easy to operate the cultural center. We had problems from both the inside and outside of the community. The fanatically-observant Jews, and especially the Melamdim (Cheder teachers), were against us. They were afraid of losing their livelihood. They fought against us both with proper and improper means, including by drashot (harangues) in

[Page 105]

the Beit-Hamidrash , and by making “reports” to the Polish Authorities. Parents did not permit their children to go to the cultural center.

The center had very limited income. The teacher taught for almost no wages. He did not earn enough to feed himself, and his meals were provided by the following families: Asher Goldberg, Yossef Meir Kurland, Itzik Chade, Moshe Zigelbaum, Mendel Birenbaum, Itzik Leib Szperling. The steering committee of the cultural center was constituted by the following people: Yankel Chade, Shmuel Goldberg, Chaim Kurland, Shlomo Zigelbaum, Blume Unglick etc...

The first anniversary celebration of the cultural center was attended by people from Klobuck, who already had moved to France. Virtually the entire shtetl participated in the celebration, which was presided over by Shmuel Goldberg. The guests from France gave us hearty and warm greetings.

 

klo105.jpg
Cultural center in Klobuck, On the right stands the teacher, Gelber

 

[Page 106]

To the “Hitchadut“ Conference in Warsaw on a Bicycle

In December 1931 we received an invitation to participate in the “Hitchadut“ conference in Warsaw. We were confronted with a difficult problem: how would we get the money for the travel and lodging expenses in Warsaw. We decided to travel without money. Yankel Szperling and I took our bicycles and went on our way to Warsaw. It took us three days to get there (approx. 225 kilometers). We spend our nights in the offices of the “Hitchadut” in the cities we traveled through. We arrived just in time for the beginning of the conference in the Jewish Academic House, under the presidency of Avraham Levinson.

After the conference we met the famous journalist, Dr. Yehoshua Gottlieb, and consulted with him about illegal Aliyah to Eretz Israel. We proposed to rent a car and start the journey, and to smuggle ourselves through the borders (of the various countries), until we arrived in Eretz Israel. Dr. Gottlieb dissuaded us because it was too risky. When we returned to Klobuck we decided nevertheless to make illegal Aliyah to Eretz Israel. Three of our friends: Daniel Szperling, Mendel Charzewski, and Leah Birenbaum left Klobuck. After a long and difficult journey they reached the coast of the promised land. There, they were caught and sent back.

Thereafter those same people tried again, and successfully arrived in Eretz Israel. After them, Yaacov Szperling also made Aliyah. The following people went to the “Hachsharah” (preparation to Aliya): Yaacov Stajinski, Moshe Mordechai Zeibel, Shmuel Goldberg, Rachel Chade, Lifshe Unglick etc...

Thanks to the activities of the “Hitachdut” and “Gordonia”, a significant number of young people from Klobuck made Aliyah to Eretz Israel.


[Page 107]

My Zionist Activities

by Yehuda Szperling

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

When I was thirteen years old I left the Cheder, and I started to learn a trade. I went to the veteran tailor (ready to wear), Hersh Wolf Friedman. I apprenticed in the trade for three years. I accompanied my boss to the markets in Krzepice, Rudnike, Bjejnice and other shtetls. During the winter, in the coldest weather, we awoke at 2:00 am, and traveled with the coachman to the market to sell trousers and coats.

In winter of 1938, after the holidays (Christmas and New Year), we set up our stand, stocked with our goods, together with all of the other Jews. Suddenly, around midday, a pogrom started. The market was crowded with Christians. They looted all of the goods; Jews were beaten.

Money raising for Zionist purposes.

 

klo107.jpg
“Flowery Day” for the “HaChalutz” fund

 

[Page 108]

klo108.jpg
“Flowery Day” for the “Keren Kayemet”
(Jewish National Fund), carried out by the “Hitachdut”

 

(Due to the chaos) it was impossible to get out of the market. Two police trucks arrived from Czestochowa and restored order. Finally, in the evening we were able to return home safely.

Such attacks on Jews were occurring often. When we travelled to the market, stones were thrown at us.

These events moved me towards the Zionist

[Page 109]

Worker Party, “Hitchadut”. I became a member of the steering committee, and was involved in the “Keren Kayemet” (Jewish National Fund) commission.

At that time there was a disagreement within the organization. The squabble, between the two leading members, Yankel Chade and Shmuel Gliksman, arose because of an Oleh Certificate, which authorized travel to Eretz Israel. There was a split in the party. I supported the Shmuel Gliksman group, along with the following people: Pinchas Klapek and Rivka Weichman, (and others). We established an organization of “Z. S.” (Zionist Socialist) in Klobuck. The organization rented premises, where we gathered every evening for lectures and discussions. After a time we again reunited with “Hitachdut”.


[Page 109]

The Betar Organization

by Avraham Goldberg, Tel-Aviv

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

Betar, Brit Yossef Trumpeldor (Alliance of Yossef Trumpeldor[1], was the newest organization in the shtetl of Klobuck. At the end of 1931 this new youth group was created, with the goal of establishing a new Zionist Youth Movement, and to set an example (for others) by its activities and its readiness to sacrifice. The new movement, like a (flowing) stream, attracted large contingents of Jewish youth, who were not (otherwise) connected to existing Jewish (Zionist) organizations, due to their religious or national affiliations.

The personality of the Betar leader, Zeev Jabotinski, and his thoughts and beliefs, expressed in words and writings, influenced everybody like the words of a prophet. The Betar-Youth started to demonstrate in streets of the Klobuck, and included the wearing uniforms, and marching with drums and trumpets. Before then, such demonstrations had been limited to the Polish “Sokol”[2].

[Page 110]

The entire shtetl, kith and kin, were on the streets. On Lag BaOmer, for the first time, we marched through the shtetl to the woods of Kamik.

The young members, intellectually gifted young men and women with the impetuosity of the youth, worked hard, and at the election of the 18th Zionist Congress, secured a victory. The Betar Organization then won an absolute majority.

 

klo110.jpg
Gathering of Betar from Klobuck and surroundings

 

We conducted a wide range of cultural activities. Every Friday evening there was a “box-evening,” where each person wrote a question that puzzled him, and put it in a box. Lecturers answered the questions, or there was a discussion about the subject. In addition, articles from newspapers were read aloud, and there were discussions, until the middle of the night.

Every day, Jewish life in the shtetl became more difficult. The concerns about the future, the inherent anti-Semitism, the ascension of Hitler to the (height of) power in Germany, all together did not portend any good for Jews. It was as if we were locked in a cage. All of the emigration gates

[Page 111]

were closed, and the gates to Eretz Israel were locked with seven keys. Everything was stacked against making Aliyah (moving to Eretz Israel) for the Betar members.

Day and night we thought about how we could escape this closed circle. In response to the committee, established in Warsaw, to help people make Aliyah, by any means, even by foot, we were all ready to go. Two of our best friends: Yaacov Moshe Weichman and David Diamand went to the “Hachsharah” (Preparation to Aliyah), in the agronomy school of the Betar Organization in Vilna. This required large sums of money for expenses, but our friends did not spare any energy or money to prepare themselves to reach the coast of Eretz Israel. Sadly, they did not arrive at their dreamed about land. Yaacov Moshe drowned during the “Hachsharah” in Vilna (more about his tragic death is written in another chapter). His death left a shocking impression on the shtetl. Diamand was murdered by the Germans during the war.

 

klo111.jpg
A group of members of Betar from Klobuck during the “Hachsharah” in Vilna, among them Y. M. Weichman, second from left who passed away, during the “Hachsharah”

 

The first Betar steering committee in Klobuck was constituted of the following people: Adele Unglick, Yaacov Moshe Weichman, David Diamand, Israel Reiber, and the writer of these lines. Former women students from the liquidated Beit Yaacov School took a prominent place in the organization.

[Page 112]

I will never forget the four friends: Mania Szperling, Chaya Rivka Weichman, Sarah Unglick and Chade. Their loyalty and devotion tor Eretz Israel was boundless.

In the beginning of March, 1934 I made Aliyah to Eretz Israel. In those days, Jews were attacked in Klobuck. Hooligans from all of the surrounding areas were enraged. It was dangerous to go outside in the streets. Nevertheless, all of my friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers (Jews) came to say goodbye. Everybody kissed me warmly, and like helpless orphans they said with their eyes: “Take us with you to Eretz Israel.”

Unhappily, only a few of my friends from Betar achieved their dream, and arrived in Eretz Israel. The large majority was murdered by the Germans.

Translator's Footnotes

  1. Joseph Trumpeldor (1880 – 1920), was an early Zionist activist. He helped organize the Zion Mule Corps to bring Jewish immigrants to Palestine. Trumpeldor died defending the settlement of Tel Hai in 1920, and subsequently became a Zionist national hero. (Source Wikipedia). Return
  2. The Sokol movement (from the Slavic word for falcon) was a nationalistic youth sport movement. (Source Wikipedia). Return


[Page 112]

The Yesodey HaTorah (Cheder) School
and the Beis-Yakov School

by Arieh Guterman

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

After World War I, in 1920 when the “Agudat Israel”[1] was founded in Klobuck, it became clear that changes were necessary in the Cheder (Jewish) educational system. Changes were necessary both in the teaching methods, and in the hygienic conditions of the school premises. The “Haskalah” (Enlightenment) became a threat to the religious education institution.

With the initiative of Rabbi Yitshak Chanoch Goldberg, righteous of blessed memory, a committee was established among the following people: Moshe Zigelbaum, Moshe Reiber, Shmuel Friedman, Yossel Markowicz, Chaim Zeidman, Wolff Weiss, and Daniel Zeligowicz. The committee established the Cheder “Yesodey HaTorah”. A large house with five large rooms was rented and the pupils' registration started.

At the beginning, the melamdim (teachers) of the shtetl were unhappy. But they had no choice and had to remain silent. A few melamdim were hired in Cheder “Yesodey HaTorah”. Israel Lapides taught the

[Page 113]

youngest children; Yossef Buchwicz – Chumash and Rashi; Avraham Kanopnicki and Peretz Eliaszewicz – Gemara. In order to operate the school a manager, Zishe Barensztein, was hired from Warsaw. The teacher of the non-religious subjects was Fishel Banker from Sosnowiec.

The Cheder “Yesodey HaTorah” typified a religious school. There were no beds in the teachers' room, as had been the case in the old Chaderim (Plural of Cheder). The pupils were divided among different classrooms. There were examinations, and diplomas were issued.

The Cheder “Yesodey HaTorah” acquired many supporters and a favorable reputation. The number of pupils increased. The students' parents were pleased about the school's teaching program. Over time it became an exemplary Cheder. Pupils came from the surrounding shtetls.

***

The “Beis-Yakov” school was established two years later, in the year 1922. The founders were Sarah Shnirer, who came from Krakow to establish the school, and Ms. Asher. This was a religious school for girls, which was modernly organized, and was located in the large hall at Eliya Weichman's premises. Yonatan Djalowski was the president of the “Beis-Yakov” school. The school developed well, and the girls received a religious education.

***

The leader of the “Agudat Israel” was Reb Yossef Dudek, who was its president. A “Young Agudat Israel” organization was also established, which had its own library, “Akad HaSefarim” (Book Collection), and an “Evening Lectures Program”, where young people attended religious and general lectures.

Translator's Footnote

  1. Agudat Israel literally means, Association of Israel, but was the religious orthodox party. Return

 

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