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Poalei Zion (cont.)

When the fact of the founding of our Hachsharah depot became known, the center sent a number of pioneers with the advisor Buzia Feingold (of Lipkany, today a worker in the Port of Haifa). Members from Teleneshti and other villages in the region joined us (Malka, Yosef, and others). Our numbers reached to close to 40 men and women, and we all lived in the shed in the vineyard. We studied Hebrew and also conducted publicity discussions. In the meantime, Poalei Zion Hachsharah depots were set up in Bukovina and Ruget. Finally, a Hechalutz center for Poalei Zion was set up in Chernovits, headed by the members Yisrael Samet, Yosef Schiff, Motel Fierman, Buzia Feingold, Liuba Gukovsky (killed in Maagan Michael (ed. note: kibbutz on the coast, north of Hadera)), and the writer of these lines.

Poalei Zion, the pioneers

Poalei Zion, the pioneers

Row 1 above from right to left: 1. Arye Balan 2. Yaakov Kulik 3. … 4. Avraham Finkelshteyn 5. … 6. Yitzchak Kupertzansky 7. … 8. Mesha Grinberg 9. … 10. …
Row 2: 1. Zamochovsky 2. Gedalyahu Sandler 3. … 4. Chaya Finkelshteyn 5. Baruch Lemberg 6. Malka Lubarsky 7. Frayda Vaysman 8. Miryam Portnoy 9. Yehoshua Kantor 10. …
Row 3: 1. … 2. … 3. Rivka Katz 4. … 5. David Munder 6. … 7. Sara Lemberg 8. David Grinblat 9. Yitzchak Gondelman
Lying: Shlomo Lekhtman

 

Due to reasons that could not be foreseen from the outset, the depot in Orheyev could not continue operations, and many of our members transferred to the depots in Bukovina. However, many remained who did not have the financial means to travel there. For those people, it was necessary to create Hachsharah opportunities in our region.

The agronomist Feigin directed us to Azriel Bolochnik from the village of Kriulyany. With his assistance we reached an agreement with the landowner Sheftilul to establish a Hachsharah depot on his estate. Our pioneers moved to Kriulyany, and other members from that place joined them (Yehudit Berliand, Mendel Trafzin, Chasya Krashkovitz and others). We ended up with 48 members, and we worked there until the end of the autumn.

On account of the proximity of the village to the Dniester, the government suspected us and investigated our “legitimacy” from time to time. A few of our members were arrested for interrogation, and were freed thanks only to the intercession of the landowner. This caused a waste of time and interruptions. We overcame all obstacles, and our turn came for aliya, but then an additional obstacle came to the fore. The aliya center in Kishinev found that the Hebrew fluency of several of our members was insufficient, so they did not authorize their aliya. All of our explanation that it was improper to require from our members, who were mainly workers, the same level of fluency as the studying youth did not succeed. Only after the aliya of our first group in 1934 did I succeed in convincing the secretariat of the Kibbutz Hameuchad to send emissaries to Bessarabia to prepare members for aliya.

Poalei Zion, the pioneers

Poalei Zion, the pioneers
(for names in the picture go to Table of Figures entry)

Standing from right to left: 1. Yaakov Kulik 2. Yadua Lau 3. Avraham Finkelshteyn 4. Mesha Grinberg 5. Yehoshua Zamochovsky 6. Malka Lubarsky 7. Yehoshua Kantor
Seated row 2: 1. … 2. … 3. Kupertzansky 4. Baruch Lemberg 5. … 6. David Munder 7. David Grinblat 8. Sara Lemberg 9. … 10. … 11. …
Row 3 below: 1. … 2. … 3. … 4. … 5. Shlomo Lechtman 6. … 7. Chaya Finkelshteyn 8. … 9. … 10. … 11. …

 

The last of our members made aliya in 1939 before the outbreak of the Second World War.


[Pages 73-74]

The Beginning of Hechalutz (the first pioneers)

by Yitzchak Rapoport

Translated by Jerrold Landau

At the time of the Romanian conquest of Bessarabia, the Zionist movement of our city showed no signs of life, for fear of the Sigurnata that suppressed all communal movements. The few members, I among them, transferred to agricultural work with Rozen, Vaynshtok and others, from where we received news on what was transpiring in the Land of Israel. Then, we organized a small group and decided to make aliya to the Land. To this end, we got in touch with the center in Kishinev, and traveled there to appear before the center. We began to concern ourselves with passports. The lawyer Shimon Goldberg assisted us in this matter. We were forced to forge signatures, since our parents objected to our aliya. Then the Ukrainian disturbances began, and many Jews fled across the Dniester to our region. The youth received the refugees and helped take care of them. Moshe Kalmanovitz headed this effort. At first, the refugees were not permitted to go to houses, and they were held in detention camps. We provided them with assistance and food. They were finally freed from the camps. We accommodated the distraught people among the residents and in synagogues. Until this day, I recall one terrifying event. A rumor spread that the gentiles murdered a family of six people as they crossed the Dniester and pillaged their property. Miraculously, a baby survived who was tossed into a well. To his good fortune, the water was frozen in that well, and the child remained alive. By chance, people heard the screams. They hurried and took the child out alive. He was brought to our city. The uncle of the child was found in the city, and thus he was saved. He arrived in the Land with his relatives. Today he is one of the dear pioneers and activists in the Land, and can be found on one of the Kibbutzim. I cannot forget the funeral of the family members. The entire city followed along, and bitter weeping and wailing were heard from all sides. From that time, we began to take more and more interest in the lives of the refugees. We obtained a house from Vaynshtok, purchased utensils, and helped them get organized. We searched for work for the younger ones, and tried to forge connections for them. We arranged lectures, and visited them often. During that time, we got in touch with the center in Kishinev in order to arrange travel certificates to the land.

The Pioneers at the G. Vaynshtok house, 1920

The Pioneers at the G. Vaynshtok house, 1920

 

After a short while, we received the news that we would shortly set out for the Land of Israel. The joy was great. We were five people from Orheyev who joined the group that was departing. I will not forget the day that I took leave of the city. It was a winter day. We rented wagons, loaded our baggage, and left. Moshe Kalmanovitz and Zionists from the city stood on the big bridge. Leib Stolyar poured water, and we took leave of them with blessings of success, and wishes to see each other in the Land.

We arrived in Kishinev and joined up with a larger group of pioneers. This was the sixth group of 180 people. We set out for Galati and waited for a boat that was going to Kushta. There in Galati, we were set up in the building of Beit Hechalutz until we received news about the departure. When we arrived in Kushta, we received news that we had received our certificates. Our joy was boundless, and we began to prepare for the journey with great joy. We embarked upon an Italian boat, received food from the Joint and the committee of delegates of the Land of Israel. The journey lasted for two weeks. We suffered no small amount from lack of food, but we overcame. The hope to see the Land shortly increased our strength. As we drew near and arrived in Beirut, Arabs ascended the boat and told us that there were disturbances in the Land, and many Jews were killed. They continued on and told us that we would also be slaughtered the moment we reached Haifa. We immediately gathered in the belly of the ship and declared a state of emergency. We decided not to lose spirit, and to make additional efforts to reach the Land, even if it would require sacrifice. We gathered weapons that were with us. These included scrap metal and even empty bottles, since there were almost no weapons. When we arrived in Haifa, boats of the port came to greet us with a member of the committee of delegates and the captain Dov Hoz. They told us about the disturbances and the murder of Brenner and his family, the Beit Chalutz that was destroyed, and the 38 pioneers that were murdered. They also told us that the English government, via the Jewish commissioner, forbade all immigration to the Land in order not to arouse the wrath of the Arabs, so we must sail on to an unknown destination. The news crushed us. We were dejected, without any recourse.

We sailed to Egypt. We remained in Alexandria for three days, and nobody was permitted to approach the boat. By chance I made contact with one Jew, and I asked him to inform the Zionist committee or the communal council about our situation, and to request help. Immediately, representatives of the Joint and the communal council arrived, and brought us food. The Chief Rabbi interceded with the governor, and they agreed to let us off the boat. We were brought to the well-known quarantine area in Alexandria. We suffered a bit from lack of food, but the most important thing was the freedom that we had there. We were able to arrange our baggage and wash our clothes. After a few days, the governor issued an order to send us back on a boat, but not the same boat. It was rather a small boat, filled with merchandise. We were informed that we were being returned to Kushta. We suffered greatly from hunger since there was almost no food. On the boat, we found grains of corn and onions in the storehouses, which we feasted upon. We reached Kushta after four days. We were received by the committee of delegates, and put up on the Jewish settlement of the I. C. A. (ed. note: Jewish Colonization Association). We began everything from scratch. We erected tents, set up a kitchen, and everything went properly. We organized a collective life. Some of us worked in fields as farmers, and others worked in the forests. The girls worked in the kitchen and other utilities. We received comforting news from the Land. Life there was becoming quieter. We were informed that soon an English Major would come to check that there were no communists among us. The first examination went successfully. Forty of us received aliya permits, including me and the others from my city. The joy was great. We would finally be able to achieve the awaited objective. We reached Haifa after a brief period. This time we were greeted by family members and people from Orheyev, including Moshe Roitman. We disembarked from the boat that day and we were sent to quarantine outside the city. We spent about ten days in tents. Acquaintances and relatives visited us daily, and brought us good things and Israeli newspapers. We were organized into groups when we left quarantine. Our group, including Moshe Roitman, joined the group of the Haifa port, which was headed by Berel Repetur. We received various jobs, including the unloading of heavy railway links and coal from ships. The heat was great, and bothered us no small amount. There was no water at the port. The work was grueling and tiring. We worked diligently and overcame everything. The contractors gave us large quantities of work, and we filled their demands. The Arab porters were not able to stand up to the competition, and we thereby took over the work in the port. After some time, we obtained beasts of burden. A group of wagon drivers also was transferred to us. The aliya increased, the settlement increased, and Haifa became a city with a large and organized Hebrew settlement. Moshe Roitman finally left the work in the port, and purchased a store for the sale of meat. At that time, riots again broke out in the Land (1929). Roitman fell victim during the riots at the hands of a co-professional. Thousands of people participated in his funeral, but the English would not permit us to travel to the cemetery. Only several friends, myself included, received permission, and accompanied our friend to the communal grave in Lower Haifa.

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