Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
Dedicated to the memory of my dear comrade and sincere friend Haim Goldberg, of blessed memory, who with self-sacrifice and effort collected the material and drafted the plan for this description. He turned the work over to me in his last days and laying in his sick bed still had time to read the first version of the description written in Yiddish, which was later translated into Hebrew by his devoted comrade, A. Sheintal (of the printing shop, Ot, Haifa).
The Radomsker population in Israel began generations ago. Even before the Zionist idea was expressed in Jewish society, Jewish Radomsk had connections with Eretz-Yisroel. This connection went through various phases, having lasted generations, and with the rise of Zionism was transformed into a stream of permanent immigrants to Eretz-Yisroel.
It is understood that the longing for Zion was not an exclusive property of Radomsker Jewry. This longing was mirrored in all Jewish hearts for generations, was expressed in prayers and customs throughout Jewish life, and principally in the Messianic movement, which inspired all Jewry. This longing was abstract, heavenly and unfulfilled, although the stream of immigrants to Eretz-Yisroel was unceasing. In order for the aspiration for Zion to receive a real form, there had to be special conditions and Jewish history shows only rare cases when the longing for Eretz-Yisroel was transformed into actual immigration.
The Tiferes Shlomoh was against traveling to Eretz-Yisroel just to study Torah and to receive support from outside the land of Israel. Answering a poor Jew who asked him if he should travel to Eretz-Yisroel and there be supported by contributions, he had said: Mutav lashevert bekhutz la'aretz uletzapot leEretz Yisrael ma'asher lashevert beEretz Yisrael uletzapot lekhutz la'aretz (see Ohel Shlomoh); that is: Better to reside outside Eretz-Yisroel with a desire for Eretz-Yisroel. In his book, Tiferes Shlomoh it is said: Ka'asher hayoshvim beEretz Yisrael makhshavoteihem ptukhot lekhutz la'aretz, harei hem ke'yoshvei kutz la'aretz; that is: When those who sit in Eretz-Yisroel turn their thoughts outside of Israel, it is the same as being outside of Israel.
For the Rebbe, the yom-tovim were when envoys would come from Eretz-Yisroel. They lived with the Rebbe in his house and whole days were devoted to matters concerning Eretz-Yisroel. It went so far that Hasidim and simple folk-people made use of these days to visit the Rebbe because his spirit was then very elevated.
In general, the Rebbe lived with the thought of Eretz-Yisroel. From time to time, he saved a ruble and sent it to Jerusalem to one of his Hasidim, Reb Pinkhas of Radom, for arranging the third (last) meal of Shabbos, there to sing the well-known rabbinic melodies. (In Jerusalem this feast was called the Radomsker third meal.)
A written article entitled The Power of Wheat from Eretz-Yisroel described the great joy in the Rebbe's court when wheat was received from Eretz-Yisroel for baking shmure matzohs. It was thus told in the written article: When the preparations for Pesakh were completed, the students and Hasidim of Tiferes Shlomoh gathered together in the synagogue and begin to sing a hymn of praise as if they were preparing a divine service. This wheat from the Holy Land was taken from a special chest and everyone started to bake the shmure matzoh as if a ceremony was taking place. All around it felt as if the people were ruled by a holy
Before making aliyah (immigrating) to Jerusalem in 5611 (1849-50), the Rebbe, Reb Moishe Lelewer, who was the son of Reb Dovid'l Lelewer and grandson of Hakodes Yehuda (Reb Yakov-Yitzhak of Przysucha,),came to Radomsk to receive a blessing from the tzadek and great friend of Eretz-Yisroel, Reb Shlomoh Hakhohan. The farewell took place in the Rebbe's Beis-Midrash and the mood was very elevated. The Rebbe beamed with joy that one of his good friends was certain to emigrate to the sacred land and thus the connection of the Rebbe Reb Shlomoh Hakhohan with Eretz-Yisroel would become closer.
In the above-mentioned book, Tiferes Shlomoh, we read, ...that the children of Zion will rejoice with their heavenly King and praise His name in the heavens. And the Rebbe comments: The Sons of Zion are the tzadekim (righteous) who wait their entire life for Zion to be built and if this will come true they will celebrate with their G-d and praise his name with dancing.
The Rebbes' grieve because the Divine Presence accompanies the Jewish people into exile and the spread of the Jewish people together with their Torah among the nations is bound with the sorrow that Eretz-Yisroel finds itself in the hands of foreign rulers. He believed that just as the Jewish people must be redeemed, Eretz-Yisroel must be freed from foreign rulers and it was his deep conviction that the Jewish people must be united in the sacred task of Geulat Haam v Haaretz (Translator's note: the messianic redemption of the people and the land). In the book Tiferes Shlomoh, it is said: Finding Eretz-Yisroel in the hands of foreign rulers who have defiled the land should shock all Jewish hearts with a common outcry to G-d that He should take pity on the land and bring an ingathering of the Jewish exiles for a total redemption in order to restore still faster the honor of the desecrated land.
The Radomsker Rebbe, Reb Shlomoh Hakhohan Rabinowicz, of blessed memory, who drew from the sacred books his great love and devotion to Eretz-Yisroel, was proficient in the [writings] of the rabbinical authorities of his time such as Rabbi Tzvi-Hersh Kalisher, of blessed memory (1795-1874) and Rabbi Reb Elihu Gutmakher (1796-1874), who spread the idea of the Love of Zion in various forms. In the book Emuna Yesharea Drishat Zion and others, the great Gaon Rabbi Kalisher called for a return to Zion, which would speed the coming of Moshiakh. Rabbi Gutmakher sermonized: Ein nishmat Yisrael yekhola lehiga'el ela im tashuv el hamakom ahkadmon shela-Eretz Yisrael; that is: The Jewish soul can be redeemed only if it returns to its ancient place to Eretz-Yisroel.
The personality of Professor Ahron Markus (1842-1916) occupies a distinguished place in the history of Zionism. Despite his worldly education and philosophical research, after a certain time, he came to the belief that it was necessary for him to leave his native land, Germany, and unite with Eastern European religious Jewry. He later actually studied in large yeshivus with prominent rabbis such as Rabbi Boruk-Yitzhak ben Yisroel Lipszic, known as the Tiferes-Yisroel, Rabbi Reb Shimon Sofer and others. In 1882, when he met Rabbi Yitzhak Fridman in Katowice, Prof. Markus decided to take an active part in the Hibbat Zion (Lovers of Zion) movement and made many attempts to encourage the rabbinic courts toward Herzlist Zionism.
For many years, Professor Markus was a student of the Tiferes Shlomoh. In his book, Der Hasidismus (in German), Prof. Markus writes, His teacher and Rebbe, Shlomoh Hakohan Rabinowicz incorporated in his creations the wisdom expressed by our great prophets. He had with the greatness of his enchanted soul, embodied in himself a likeness to our great prophets.
Professor Bernard, too, who lived in Radomsk, became a well-known bel Teshuva (one who has returned) with the name Rebbe Reb Haim Dovid and a great lover of Zion. He was one of the students of the Radomsker Tzadek Tiferes Shlomoh, of blessed memory.
The great Tzadek not only absorbed all of the positive ideas about reviving the sacred land, but also tirelessly helped to spread the holy ideal of the community Eretz-Yisroel.
This aliyah excited the entire shtetl and when the day of departure arrived, the entire Jewish population accompanied Reb Yeheil and his wife to the train station and sent along their blessings.
Reb Hershele Meshemamesh (attendant), a resident of Tzfat for upwards of 90 years, describes in the following manner how he traveled with Reb Yeheil and his wife Rivkah from Haifa to Tzfat:
This was many years ago, perhaps 60 or 70 years; no buses traveled to Tzfat then and in Tzfat it was not generally known that buses existed.
On a certain day I stayed in Haifa with a Jewish family who had several rooms with beds to rent. Jews would spend the night there, eat a meal, drink a glass of tea and the like. Once in the morning before davening, when I was getting ready to ride back to Tzfat on a donkey, the owner came over to me and asked, 'Reb Hershele, are you riding to Tzfat today?'
- Yes, I answered.
- Very good.
- What then?
- There is a Jew here who needs to ride to Tzfat today.
- However, he is not from here; he is from outside of Eretz-Yisroel.
- Who is he?
- I have come here from Nowo-Radomsko.Immediately I went away to the village where there was an old Arab café many Arabs with donkeys from various localities stayed there. I hired three donkeys from an Arab, agreed upon a price with him and a half an hour later we began to ride, each on a donkey he, Reb Yeheil Landau, his wife Madame Rivkah and I.
- And you want to ride to Tzfat?
- If one must ride and one cannot ride on a wagon?
- No, I answered.
- Never mind, we will ride with G-d's help and will.
- One rides on donkeys.
- So it is, as long as one is in Eretz-Yisroel.
- Who are you?
- I am Yeheil Landau.
- What do you want to do in Tzfat?
- To sit and to study with the help of the Creator of the world, the way I studied with my father-in-law in Nowo-Radomsk.
- Who is your father-in-law?
- The Tiferes Shlomoh.
- Well, why did you not say so right away Come, good, when the Tiferes Shlomoh would come to the Rebbe in Lizensk (Translator's note: possibly Lochynsko), he always stayed with my grandfather Reb Fishele. Come, good, we will with G-d's help, ride together.
The Arab rode in front; barefoot, he showed the way. There were no good roads then. The Turks who only collected taxes and built nothing still ruled in the land. We rode on bad roads, small foot-paths. The Arab and I were already accustomed to sitting on donkeys, accustomed to riding. However, Reb Yeheil Landau and his wife were not any kind of riders. Instead of two days, we had to ride two and a half days until we arrived in Tzfat. Instead of over-nighting for two days with Arabs, we had to over-night for three nights
We had to stop many times on the way. An hour after we rode out from Haifa, we stopped. Reb Yeheil Landau came down from the donkey and said to me:
- Reb Hershele, it is not going well.I came down from the donkey, sat Reb Yeheil back on his donkey and we rode further. It was a hot day, we were all sweating. It was already dark when we reached Acre. Before Minkhah, Reb Yeheil fell off several times. Probably, he was also in pain, but he said nothing.
- It will soon go. Just have faith.
- I will go on foot to Tzfat.
In Acre we went into an Arab's courtyard with the donkeys; then we went to a Jew, davened Minkhah and Maariv. Later when we sat at the table and ate, I asked:
- Reb Yeheil, your limbs must hurt you?We needed to awake at daybreak. I wanted him to lay and rest, because we needed to ride further in the morning. He did not want to. He went outside, gathered together pieces of wood and made a fire and sat down nearby on a stone and said Psalms with a melody. His wife calling that he should come into the room did not help.
- Nothing hurts. That I have fallen down is Satan's work He does not want me to be in Eretz-Yisroel However, in heaven there is a decree that I should sit in Tzfat.
I went outside to him and said:
- We still have a long way to Tzfat, we must sleepI sat down near him on a stone. The fire blazed so we did not need any light. He said a chapter of Psalms and I said a chapter of Psalms. I felt as if the tiredness was disappearing and I was being refreshed
- First the Creator deserves a couple of chapters of Psalms. I am greatly in debt to Him Let me at least pay Him back with Psalms.
- Reb Yeheil, you can say the Psalms in the room.
- Here, here, by the fire Satan has no influence You understand Reb Hershele, come sit down, we will both say Psalms. It would be better still if there was a minyon here Oy would that be good
After finishing the Psalms I said:
- Nu, Reb Yeheil, come inside.I stood up from the stone and went inside to lie down. He remained outside. After a few hours I woke up. Dawn was already beginning. I got dressed, washed and went outside. He was still sitting by the fire and was looking in a sefer (religious book).
- What are you saying? If our landlord, the Jew, were here too
- So what would happen? I ask.
- I would have now asked him to serve whiskey with cookies.
- We will serve brandy, G-d willing, when we arrive in Tzfat and now come inside a little.
- Oy, Reb Hershele, true prayers to G-d are only here in the land outside, early, under heaven
- Reb Yeheil, let us now daven quickly.We both put on the talisim (prayer shawls), laid tefilin (phylacteries) and davened longer. Then we went together to the courtyard where the Arab with the donkeys was already waiting. The Arab asked for the money; I promised to pay him well in Tzfat. We started to ride.
- What do you mean daven quickly? Tiferes Shlomoh's son-in-law does not daven quickly I daven with fervor Did we say Psalms quickly? You do not know how much smaller I have made my debt to heaven with your and my saying of Psalms
At night we stopped in an Arab village not far from Tzfat. There was still another three-four hours of riding.
- Reb Yeheil, do you want us to daven here?We again sat on the little donkeys. When we had ridden a kilometer from the Arab village, Reb Yeheil fell off of the donkey. I immediately ran to him and lifted him up. He bent over, holding his stomach. I became uneasy. He noticed and said:
- It would be better in Tzfat.
- When will we arrive in Tzfat?
- In around three hours.
- It is already, thank G-d, better.I sat him on my donkey and I sat on his donkey. At around 10 a.m. at a propitious hour, we arrived in Tzfat.
- Did you do something to yourself?
- This is Satan Reb Hershele, he tried to interrupt my arrival in Tzfat.
In my home, they had already not known what to think. They thought that, G-d forbid, something had happened. We went into a house of study, where Jews were sitting and learning, and we davened with them in a minyon.
Then there was the problem of an apartment. At that time, Reb Haim Radziner was the manager of the local old age home. He prepared a room for Reb Yeheil Landau. There he lived and studied Torah.
He was called Reb Yeheil Radomsker in Tzfat; he had his own shul, and together with Reb Haim Radziner he occupied himself with raising orphans and even had them married. He created a Talmud Torah and an old age home. Together with Reb Shimon Ludmir and M. Shoykhet, he made a list of the needy and shared the money that would be collected with them.
Old residents of Tzfat know to tell that Mrs. Rivkah sewed her entire life and knitted socks, stockings, sweaters and the like for poor young men and at their marriage each received a gift of 12 pairs of woolen socks and a sweater from her.
Thus one of the finest of the second generation after Tiferes Shlomoh made aliyah to Palestine and lived in Eretz-Yisroel, in Torah and good deeds.
Ahron encountered few, very few Radomskers then in Eretz-Yisroel: Reb Yeheil Landau, Kopel Shamas, Glidman's son and a brother and several old residents in Jerusalem. It was not easy then to live in the land. Many were not able to combat all of the difficulties and left Eretz-Yisroel. But not Ahron Zaks, for him no work was too difficult; he joined a group of Jewish sentries and later was actually wounded in Rehoveth during a struggle with Arab thieves. He lay in the hospital in Jerusalem for a long time. There he was operated on and all of this had a bad effect on his well being, so that he was no longer capable of doing hard work. His father, knowing of this, sent money, so that his sick son could return home. However, Ahron sent the money back and remained in Eretz-Yisroel.
Ahron Zaks belongs to the founders of the Jewish Workers' Movement in Eretz-Yisroel. In 1910, together with others, he created the first workers' kitchen in Yaffa, and also a club and library there for Jewish workers.
During the First World War, he was sent to Egypt with other Jews. After the war he returned and here led a quiet, unassuming life until his last day.
It was not easy for a Jew such as Reb Henek to fulfill such an undertaking children were born and it was necessary to raise them. There were constant concerns about income and the like. All of this, however, did not, G-d forbid, obstruct his chief idea aliyah to Eretz-Yisroel. He never economized with money for emissaries from Eretz-Yisroel. They even lived in his house and when Keren-Kameyet-L'Yisroel was created, he immediately became a devoted supporter of the fund. Even before the Zionist Youth and social workers in Radomsk began the work of Keren-Kameyet, he had placed pushkes in Jewish homes for the purpose of collecting money for Eretz-Yisroel. He himself would hang the pushkes in houses, with malamedim in their khederim (religious schools) and with other businessmen, and it is easy to imagine that the majority among the kheder students, who in their later years made aliyah to Eretz-
While Reb Henek was unable to fulfill his sacred dream for many years, he never lost hope. At last, in 1913 he had the honor of leaving Radomsk and made his journey to Eretz-Yisroel. His joy was very great and all of Jewish Radomsk rejoiced with him and almost all of the Jews accompanied him to the train. He immigrated with his second wife, Chaya Hamer, the widow of Yohanan Hamer, the first gabai of Rebbe Reb Yehezkeil (Knesset Yehezkeil).
The First World War broke out not long after Reb Henek's immigration. Reb Henek saw that his great dream to bring his whole family to Eretz-Yisroel would not happen because of the war. Therefore, his sorrow and longing was very great. This badly affected his health and in 1914 he died in Eretz-Yisroel. His grandchildren made aliyah to Eretz-Yisroel later in the thirties and thus, after the death of their grandfather, his dream of making aliyah to Eretz-Yisroel was fulfilled. His wife Chaya Hamer died a year later, in 1915.
Itshe Grosman as a sentry
Among them were: Moishe Szwarc, as well as the brother and son of the Radomsker Hovevei-Zion (Lover of Zion) Kopel Shamas. His brother became known in Eretz-Yisroel as Feter (Uncle) Nakhum, was associated with the Western Wall his whole life and, in general, was famed as a mystical figure. His son, on the contrary, belonged to the group of organized Jewish workers, who together with Yakubowicz and others were involved with hard physical work and as sentries. Itshe Grosman of Radomsk became well known as a sentry [as early as] 1912.
The grandson of Tiferes Shlomoh, Reb Yehoshua-Nakhum the brother of the last Radomsker Rebbe should be remembered here. Reb Yehoshua-Nakhum also came to Eretz-Yisroel in the above-mentioned era, was active as an emissary for various institution in Jerusalem to other nations.
For generations a whole succession of Jewish families from Radomsk traveled to Eretz-Yisroel in their old age, here to live out their last years (for example, the Jurburski family and others).
Here needs also to be remembered the personality of Rabbi Reb Shabtai Bornsztajn and his wife Sarah-Feiga, who came to Eretz-Yisroel in the 30's. The family is a further generation of the rabbinical family in Radomsk. Rabbi Reb Shabtai and his wife lived for many years in Jerusalem; he is known as a great sage, distinguished social worker in the learned world and fervent Jewish nationalist.
In the years 1919-1920, Shlomoh Waksman, Yisroel Wincentowski, Yehoshua and Henek Kalka, Yeheil-Dovid Buchman, Yehezkeil Pacanowski, Yosef Rozencwajg, Shlomoh'le Waksman, Yakov Landau, Berl Rozensztajn, Ruwin Minski, Abraham Lipszic, Ruwin Goldberg, Itshe Tobias, Tuvya Rubinsztain, Yeheil Aronowicz, Noakh and Wolf Szpira, Dovid Krojze, Leibish and Moishe Zandberg, Pinkhas Goldberg, the brothers Nakhman and Dovid Gold and their sister Dwoira, Meir Karapka, Shlomoh Rabinowicz, Moishe Tiger, Yitzhak Alpert, Noakh Wajntraub and many others actually made aliyah. In a short time, their wives and selected sons came to the land, there were marriages, and despite the difficult conditions, they built families and rooted themselves in Jewish homes.
The way was not easy for the Radomsker immigrants of the Third Aliyah, who had already lived through the difficulties of the First World War, the Russian Revolution of
Varied were the ways by which the immigrants went from Radomsk in order to join in the construction work of that beginning era in Eretz-Yisroel. Thus was Shlomoh Rabinowicz, the son of the Rabbi and great grandson of Tiferes Shlomoh, one of the founders of the Kefar Hasidim in the Jezreel Valley. Others (like Karapka) went to cooperative farming settlements or to a kibbutz (Yosef Haze - Kibbutz Hefzibah; Bialystock Kibbutz Yagur). A large group won jobs in construction in all its forms.
In the following, Yehoshua Kalka describes the Radomsker construction workers: The Polish immigrants of the Third Aliyah were not always able to compete with their comrades from Russia. Too, the employers, who were in the majority Russian Jews, did not have any trust in the Polyakn (Poles); it was different with the Radomsker immigrants. After they had worked for a long time at various construction work, a machine to press blocks was brought. When I and other Radomsker comrades reported to work and promised to make up to 150 blocks a day, we were laughed at; look at the Polish workers. Later, when we reached 350 blocks a day, we were the most sought-after workers.
It is self-evident that a portion of the Radomsker immigrants were unable to cope with the difficult conditions and left the country. However, only [a few] could not adjust to the difficult living conditions in the land.
Not having any organizational framework that would be of assistance to the immigrants, the Radomsker landsleit made an effort to be in close contact with each other; they lived together and worked together. If one had opportunities, he secured work for his landsleit; if someone was unemployed, the earnings were shared. Certain trade workers settled quicker and earned more (Henek Kalka, Shlomoh'le Waksman, Yehoshua Kalka and his wife Sarah); their homes were not only gathering places for the newly arrived Radomsker immigrants, but their pocketbooks were shared for support.
In the years 1923-1925, the first members of the Halutz movement arrived in the land: Meir Potoszewicz, Haim Witenberg, Moishe Fiszelewicz, Moishe Kamelgarn, Meir-Dovid Goldberg, the Grosman brothers (Zeira), Freiberg, Meir Gliksman, Moishe-Yitzhak Szitnberg, Yeshayahu Rozencwajg, Shmulke Rozenblat, Zukin Advakat, Birencwajg (Yisrael Bari's father) Yakov Sofer, Yeheil Tron and others. Alas, a portion of them returned home and there perished during the Holocaust era.
After going through the first difficulties of absorption as immigrants in Eretz-Yisroel, the Radomskers occupied significant positions in communal, political and cultural life. Mention must particularly be made of the Gold brothers, Nakhman as an active co-worker in the creation of the post office of the nation and Dovid (Klei), who occupied a distinguished place in the nation's cultural life, as a writer
Radomsker young men in Vienna (Austria) in 1919 on the way to immigrating to Eretz-Yisroel. (From the left): Yehoshua Kalka, Dovid Buchman, Moishe Zandberg, Yosef Rozencwajg, Yehezkeil Pacanowski.
editor, historian and well-rounded scientist. In his short life, he mainly contributed to cultural activities for Histadrut Haovdim Haklalit, was one of the founders of Shechunat Borochov (Translator's note: a workers' village) and later Givatayim where he lived to his last days.
A group of Radomsker tourists in 1924 on Har Carmel in Haifa. From the right: Henek Zlatnik, Hilel Zambek, Yitzhak Fajerman, Ali Grundman, Yosef Gliksman, Ahron-Wolf Szwarc, Ruwin Minski and Enzel Berger.
A group of Radomskers in 1923 in Neveh Tzedek (From the right): Sinai Fajngold, Sh. Waksman, Bela Fajngold, Regina Rozenbaum-Rozencwajg, Abraham Birenbaum, Dovid Buchman,
had enough perseverance and strength for it. Many of them played a great part in the construction of Tel Aviv and other cities. Yitzhak Fajerman, Haim Grosman, Haim Goldberg, Hilel Zambek, Abraham-Hersh Bugajski, Yitzhak Yudkewicz, the Aronowicz family and others built houses in various cities and a number lost their capital during the later difficult economic crises, after the first prosperous years. It should also be remembered that many Radomskers helped other Radomsker workers both with work and with apartments and loans (the initiative in this area of Yitzhak Fajerman and others must particularly be remembered).
In spite of the economic crisis which reigned in the land and the cessation of immigration, more immigrants from Radomsk came to Eretz-Yisroel then, as parents to children (Haim Grosman and Karapka) or like Miss Lipszic to her parents.
A group of Radomsker construction workers in the 20's
Halutzim (Pioneers) from Radomsk also came from time to time and after the events of 1929 the Halutz immigration was renewed a little through certificates that the Mandate regime gave from time to time. (Yitzhak-Shmuel Moszkowicz, who had gone through agricultural training in Kibbutz Klosewe arrived in 1930).
Shifra Witenberg, Tuvya Aronowicz, Moishe-Yitzhak Szitenberg (Shita) and A. Fiszelewicz came to the opening of the Maccabiah (a Jewish Olympics) (in 1932). Later N. Hofman as a returned resident. Yehudah Liberman came in 1939 with a certificate; later Yitzhak Lakhman and his brother Shmuel, both as capitalists. Leizer Mandel came in 1934 and a year later (in 1935) Haim Goldberg emigrated; after him Moishe-Yitzhak Szitenberg (for the second time) and many others.
In 1935, the Nonberg family, the parents of the future Israeli fighter and hero Yankele Saboteur came. Fishel Karp, one of the first residents of Holon, also came to the land and with his expertise and strong will overcame many temptations and built an industrial enterprise that later greatly helped the Haganah procure the needed gear for the struggle, behind the backs of the Mandate regime. (Radomsker immigrants always found work in the industrial enterprises.)
Organization of Radomsker Immigrants in Eretz-Yizroel
There was close contact between the Radomskers in Haifa. These comrades, Haim Goldberg, Tuvya Rubinsztajn, Grosman, Minski, Lipszic, and others, were always ready to help the Radomskers who settled in Haifa and vicinity with whatever was possible. They maintained continuous contact with Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
At that time, there was not yet any form of organization of Radomsker landsleit in Tel Aviv or Haifa. An attempt was made in Jerusalem in 1927 to legalize a society under the name Association of Former Radomsker Residents in Jerusalem with the English Mandate regime. In a letter of 25 November 1927 from the Jerusalem Provincial Governor addressed to the secretary of the society in Jerusalem, Hilel Liberman, it was said: I have the honor to approve your application of 8 November 1927 and acknowledge that the society, the Association of Former Radomsker Residents, was registered in our Bureau with the number 508/3939 in accordance with the existing statues. You are to inform us of all changes that take place in the composition of the submitted managing committee.
The founders of the organization were Yehoshua-Nukhem Rabinowicz, Noakh Wajnbtraub, Moishe Liberman, Mordekhai-Yakov Gold, Secretary Hilel Liberman.
The number of Radomsker landsleit in Jerusalem was not large at that time and the activities there were not intensive. In a letter of the 1st of Elul 5699 (August 16, 1939), Hilel Liberman writes to landsleit Yosef Kamelgarn in Tel Aviv: To my great regret, I cannot undertake any organizational or other activities on behalf of the Radomsker Association.
In Tel Aviv and Haifa, where a larger number of Radomsker landsleit were concentrated, the time came to create an organization of all of the Radomsker landsleit in the land.
We inform all Radomsker landsleit in Eretz-Yisroel that an organizing group in Tel Aviv at its last meeting decided to organize all of our landsleit in an association for the following tasks:
We have elected a provisional committee that will organize the work until the coming general meeting. We turn to all of our landsleit and call on you to register as members of the association and obligate yourself to pay monthly membership dues, or according to your ability. We hope that all will respond to our message and will help to establish our association.
You are asked to return promptly to the registration bureau at the address: Zelvulun St. 31, Tel Aviv at 7-8 in the evening.
This appeal was signed by Haim Grosman, Shlomoh Waksman, Shmuel Lakhman, Yehoshua Kalka, Yosef Kamelgarn, Dovid Krojze, Shlomoh Krakowski, Moishe-Yitzhak Szitenberg.
The quoted appeal points out the will of the Radomsker landsleit in Eretz-Yisroel to live close together and help each other in every respect. It was literally a prophetic premonition to organize in light of the later tragedy for our people in order to be ready for the activities for the Radomsker brothers in the Second World War and for the survivors of the Holocaust.
News began to arrive from Radomskers who were successful in saving themselves in Russia. The Radomskers in Israel immediately organized aid activities to send food packages and clothing to Russia for their landsleit (virtually to every address of a Radomsker that could be found). The activity was coordinated with the landsleit in America and many of the Radomskers in the Soviet Union during the most difficult war years were delighted with this help
In the later war years the dreadful news was already clear. The Radomsker landsleit, M. Zandberg, came from Egypt and brought details about the mass death. Later Yakov Kurtz, who had visited Piotrkow before the war and became stuck there, wrested himself from there and came back to the land during the war years. He told about the destruction of Polish Jewry, particularly about Piotrkow and Radomsk; he also later published a book about this under the title Sefer Eides (Book of Witness).
Together with the enormous grief and deep pain of every Radomsker, the great responsibility that lay on the small Radomsker community in Eretz-Yisroel in such a moment became very clear. Even while the Jewish population in Eretz-Yisroel found itself in a difficult political condition, that did not stop them from proceeding to establish an organizational framework for the aid activities that had to be undertaken for all those who would save themselves from the Hitlerist gehinem.
In 1944 a provisional managing committee of the Irgun Yotzei Radomsko (Organization of Radomskers) in Israel was created in Tel Aviv with the following members: Shlomoh Waksman (President), M. Khatumi, (Secretary), Yehoshua Kalka, Dovid Margolewski, Leah Birnbaum-Telman, Dovid Krojze and Moishe Szitenberg. An aide fund for the Radomsker survivors in Europe was immediately created and it organized a planning group of Radomskers in Haifa. The group of Radomskers in Haifa, simultaneously with the landsleit in Tel Aviv, made every effort to organize help for the brothers from Radomsk once the extermination in the European gehinem ceased.
At the end of 1945 several of the surviving Radomskers began to arrive in the land, such as Zev Sabatowski, Yitzhak Kuppersztok and others, who described the extermination of our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters.
The English Mandate regime in the country created all kinds of difficulties and impeded the remnant of Polish Jewry from coming to Eretz-Yisroel; they were sent to Cyprus, again in dark camps. In various ways, chiefly through our landsleit Dovid Klei, who was delegated by the Histadrut ha-Kelalit (Jewish Labor Federation) to Cyprus, the Irgun was successful in establishing contact with the Radomsker refugees there.
The aid action that was then organized by the Radomskers in Eretz-Yisroel was vast. Food and clothing was sent both to the camps in Cyprus
The Irgun was very active at that time in attracting still more landsleit to the work. The Irgun then turned to the Radomskers who were found in the Eretz-Yisroel Brigade to take an interest everywhere in Europe, where there was still the possibility of finding surviving landsleit and to help them. Our surviving brothers and sisters were found in the D.P. camps in Germany, Austria, Italy, Cyprus, France and Belgium and also in other nations. The Irgun then turned to Poland, to the Central Jewish Institutions for information about our landsleit. As a result of this, on the 20th of July 1945, a telegraphic message was received by Yehuda Liberman and Haim Goldberg from Professor Yosef Sak in Warsaw with a list of 127 Radomsker Jews who remained alive and temporarily found themselves in Radomsk. The Irgun made an attempt to contact all surviving landsleit and thus, on the 27th of November 1945, a list of over 300 surviving Radomsker Jews was published in the newspaper Lekarov vLerkhok (To Those Near and Far).
Shlomoh Rabinowicz, the son of Yehezkeil Rabinowicz visited Radomsk in 1946 and in a letter from there described the sorrowful appearance of the 70 Jews that he found, all almost half dead, broken spiritually and physically. The Shul Street made a terrible impression on him and especially the mass grave in the cemetery; the impression was so dreadful that he literally ran from the city.
A large group of Radomskers in Tel Aviv and Haifa immediately collected a large sum of money for an Interest-Free Loan Fund to assist the immigrants who needed to begin a new life, both those who survived murderous German Hitlerism and those who returned from Russia.
Scores of letters from that time give evidence of the massive aid that was given when the landsleit arrived in the country. The social workers from Irgun who had good connections in the land, such as Haim Goldberg and others in Haifa, Sh. Waksman and the Kalka brothers, Wincentowski and others in Tel Aviv, made an effort through various interventions to facilitate the absorption of their landsleit.
Later, the Interest-Free Loan Fund was named after Shlomoh Epsztajn of blessed memory, the deceased landsleit in America who was devoted with life and limb to helping the needy landsleit in Israel.
In 1953-54 when the new landsleit were already somewhat settled and loans were not requested very often, the activity of the Interest-Free Loan Fund was diminished. In 1955 the Interest-Free Loan Fund was reorganized and a new managing committee was elected with the following members: Yosef Lakhman, Dov Waldfogel, Abraham Waldfogel and Dovid Krojze.
At the take over of the Interest-Free Loan Fund by the new managing committee, the balance was as follows:
|Deposits in the bank||1,697.00|
(* Translator's Note: This total is as it appears in the book.)
Our Interest-Free Loan Fund in Tel Aviv communicated with the central Interest-Free Loan Fund of Histadrut (Mish'an), which doubled the sum for the loans and permitted the distribution of loans for Radomskers not only in the city, but all over the entire country (The same was done by the Interest-Free Loan Fund in Haifa).
There were cases when the requests were larger than the possibilities; then several members gave personal commitments to be able to assist landsleit with constructive aid. During the years 1956-1960, 170 loans were given out in the sum of 35,000 Israeli Pounds (just in Tel Aviv).
A Housing Development for New Radomsker ImmigrantsThe constructive help of the Interest-Free Loan Fund was depleted by the absorption problems of the immigrants in general and the Radomskers in particular. The refugees streamed in en masse; the Jewish Agency and the government had to worry about a temporary roof over their heads. There arose then the tent camps for the immigrants, in which were found Radomsker landsleit. A plan then sprang up from the Society in New York to build several dwellings for the Radomsker refugees. After long negotiations, it was decided to join with the Shikun Construction Company of Histadrut Haovdim Hakelalit (General Federation of Laborers) in building two houses in Holon, as a housing development for Radomsker landsleit in tent camps.
The landsleit in America really made great financial efforts for this purpose and the landsleit in Israel (both in Tel Aviv and Haifa) did a great deal to implement the idea. At last the Sunday of the 11th of November 1951 was set as a deadline to lay the cornerstone of the two houses as Shikun Yotzei Radomsk (Radomsker Apartments).
The enthusiasm of the comrades in Israel was very great. The managing committee of Irgun published a solemn appeal in which it was said among other things:
Dear Comrades! Sunday, the 11th of November 1951 at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, our yom-tov (holiday) will be marked. On this day the cornerstone will solemnly be laid for the houses of Shikun Yotzei Radomsk and representatives of various national institutions will be represented, as well as a representative of our brothers in America, Comrade B. Kugel and his wife.
In the presence of the mayor of Holon Dr. D. Kugel, Prof. A. Reis, chairman of Histadrut Olei Polin (Union of Polish Immigrants), representatives of the Jewish Agency, the Shikun Company and many other guests and with the participation of several hundred landsleit, Haim Goldberg, of blessed memory, opened the celebration.
Haim Goldberg presented a survey of the general activities of Irgun and its connections with Radomsker landsleit all over the world. He described Jewish life and mutual aid in old time Radomsk, when one helped the other in times of need and times of trouble. He cited the great calamity of destruction and mass death that had obliterated forever the city and its Jewish population. He also recalled our dear Radomsker young men who fell in the War of Independence of the Land of Israel and the Radomsker fighters and rebels, who resisted the German barbarianism, defended Jewish honor, took revenge for spilled innocent Jewish blood.
Haim Goldberg ended his speech* with the following words:
The two buildings, for which we lay the ground stone will facilitate the absorption of our rescued brothers newly arrived in Israel. Let this achievement, which we here start to realize, serve as an expression of solidarity and brotherliness that reigns among our landsleit who are spread over the world two dear
* Large excerpts from this speech given in Hebrew are found in the Hebrew section of this discourse. (Ed.)
qualities that characterized our annihilated Radomsk Kehile that lives in our hearts.
After a series of greetings from the representatives of institutions that participated in the ceremony, the secretary M. Khatumi read aloud the solemn scroll written for the purpose. The general mood was very elevated and the celebration left a great impression on all present. It was underlined that the Radomskers in Israel and America were the first who were not stopped by any difficulties in creating a roof over the heads of the hard-suffering Radomsker brothers and sisters who after such tragic experiences lived to come to Eretz-Yisroel and to build here anew their home.
The houses consisted of 8 apartments with two rooms with a kitchen and large hall. In as much as the number of Radomskers who needed apartments was very great, the Irgun assigned 3 single young men to the 3 childless families that occupied the apartments. Thus 8 families and 3 single young men were settled. Alas, the apartments created bad blood and resentment, while the plan for building more houses and bringing more tenants there unfortunately was not realized. It was learned moreover that the activities of Irgun almost became paralyzed, and the landsleit in America, who really made the greatest financial efforts in building the houses, received various unpleasant messages. Alas, it was shown in this case that practical life sometimes is very cruel for social workers who sacrifice their time, health
B. Kugel, the landsleit from America, signs the solemn scroll.
The community workers among the Radomsker landsleit in Tel Aviv and Haifa in addition to all of this concentrated their work in the Interest-Free Loan Fund, with the housing developments and with the organization of the yearly memorial service for the martyrs from Radomsk who perished. The Irgun had a headstone in memory of the martyrs in the form of a double marble tablet placed in the wall in the Chamber of the Holocaust on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. The solemn unveiling took place on the 11.10.55 (October 11, 1955) with a large number of landsleit present. Yearly memorials are arranged in Jerusalem from time to time near the headstone on Mt. Zion.
In the beginning, the landsleit in America showed little interest. However Comrades Rudnicki and Pinye Kalka, who became familiar with the assembled material during a visit, promised to make all efforts, mainly financial, so that the book could happen. Alas, shortly after his visit to Israel, Comrade P. Kalka died suddenly and the American landsleit again became passive (the failure of the houses in Holon also had a negative effect). In the middle of it all, Sol Grinberg, one of the prominent Jewish personalities in America, a devoted Radomsker landsleit and one of the most distinguished donors and community workers, died there. In his will, he left a large sum for a memorial house in Tel Aviv to the memory of the fallen, murdered and annihilated Radomsk Jews. There was to be a room name after the deceased donor in the house in which would be collected all materials about his social and philanthropic activities. The proposal provoked strong opposition by the active Yizkor Book workers in Israel, who requested that the money be used first of all for the book and later a meeting hall should be bought for the Irgun. Their request remained a minority position and a meeting hall was bought on Hulda Street 9 in Tel Aviv, in accord with the will.
In its own meeting hall, gatherings and memorial services of Irgun are arranged annually; receptions are held there for visiting landsleit who come to Israel; there the Interest-Free Loan Fund and other Landsmanschaft undertakings are carried out. The meeting hall is an important achievement, although in its time the bad financial situation affected the activity on the book, which stopped almost completely.
Then the community worker Yehuda Liberman took his place as the head of Irgun (in 1958). In his report of 1961 to the general membership of Irgun, we read among other things: As I have become acquainted with the situation in Irgun, I have decided that until the housing development is regulated, no normal activity will be possible for Irgun. We succeeded together with other council members in reaching an understanding with almost all of the residents and now they fulfill their financial obligations (with the exception of one of them). After solving the housing development problem, the most difficult and most important question for Irgun in general and for every landsleit in particular was the publication of the Yizkor Book. It is clear that as long as only 2 or 3 members are employed with this question that it could not be carried to a positive end. All landsleit must take part in the creation of a matzeyve (headstone) for the city in which they were born and raised. True, it is not easy to raise the money from the landsleit members, who are spread over the country, but have we done everything? Up to now 150 of the 350 landsleit have contributed and we are striving to prepare the book for printing. We have already made an agreement with the printer, Ahudut, about publishing the book.
Year after year passed and the difficulties in realizing the publication of the book grew without end. Only a small number of members helped with the work and, in time, the number became smaller. In addition the financial difficulties were great. Only after the visit of Comrade Yehezkeil Pacanowski, of blessed memory, the Secretary of the New York Society of Radomsker landsleit, was there a small increase in the success of fundraising from the American brothers. They sent their archive of over 60 years of activities of the Radomsker Landsmanschaft Society in America to Israel.
Then the work on the book took on new energy. Yehuda Liberman saw the publication of the book as the main goal of his activism in Irgun and, thanks to this the goal was achieved with the aid of his close co-workers.
The other work of Irgun was abandoned. At a general meeting, which took place on 2.7.62 (July 2, 1962), the following members were elected to the managing committee: Yehuda Liberman (Chair.), Moishe Hartman (Sec.), Yehoshua Kalka (Treas.), Yehuda Waksman (I-F Loan Fund), Haim Goldberg, Abraham Waldfogel, Moishe Szitenberg, Mordekhai Khatumi, Yakov Alpert, Pola Gaslowska-Fajerman, Zev Sabatowski.
Over time, changes took place in our status in Israel. The once new immigrants were rooted in the land, like everyone else. Thus, pressure on the Interest-Free Loan Fund lessened significantly. In general, the activity of Irgun weakened the years have their effect, many active people are physically broken and ill. Immigrants from Radomsk no longer came. The older generation becomes fewer.
Now when the Yizkor Book is finished, our two community workers must be recorded here Haim Goldberg, of blessed memory,
Haim Goldberg was the first one to understand and express the great importance of such a book and the idea spread among the members of Irgun. He dedicated much time and effort to work on the book, collected material (documents, photographs and so on) and influenced other landsleit to help him. Even in his last weeks, despite his difficult illness, he did not stop thinking about the book and made efforts so that the book would be rich in its contents and beautiful in its form.
Haim Goldberg found a devoted partner in this effort in the Chairman of Irgun Yotzei Radomsko, Yehuda Liberman, who particularly in the last years (from 1959) dedicated all of his strength to raising the necessary money, collecting additional material and caring for all matters connected with composing and publishing this book.
The path of aliyah to Eretz-Yisroel was long and hard for the Radomskers. They were drawn by the longing for Zion of our parents and by the divine love for Eretz-Yisroel of the Tiferes-Shlomoh and his students, through the third and fourth and Halutz aliyahs. The paths of aliyah were paved with tremendous difficulties, great sufferings and superhuman efforts and ended with the ruthless tragedy for our city and of Polish Jewry in general.
The history of Irgun Yotzei Radomsko b'Yisroel is a web of devotion, brotherly feelings and mutual assistance that were the essential mark of our city Radomsk. When our city met its frightening misfortune, the noble quality of our parents was awoken in the hearts of the Radomsker sons and daughters in Israel. Here it was again revealed in its full luster, the sincerity and self-sacrifice, together with practical activities, in helping out the suffering landsleit-brothers. Thanks to these qualities of the Irgun Yotzei Radomsko, the important and fruitful activity of concluding the publication of this book was carried out.
Let these lines be a modest expression of a deeper examination of the Radomsker immigrants of all generations and of all the aliyahs and serve as a witness to their courage and devotion, perseverance and creativity that have struck deep roots in the Land of Israel.
Radomsker Landsleit in Israel
Top right: From the Third Aliyah
Top left: Y. Pacanowski from New York among landsleit in Haifa (1961)
Bottom right: At the hard work of brick-making
Bottom left: During the laying of the cornerstone for the housing development in Holon
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