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The Zionist Movement in Zloczew (cont.)

Salary From a Goy's Hand

I remember an interesting event in connection with “jockeying for positions”: At one of the sessions of the executive board of the community, an item appeared in the agenda: election of a secretary. There were two candidates: Elkana Majerowicz, representing the ultra-orthodox, and Yaakov Freund, representing the Zionists. The chairman of the committee was then the ultra-orthodox rabbi Velvish Gizberg who, together with a coalition of landlords, had a respectable majority. The leaders of the Zionist federation were then Yaakov Bielawski and Moshe Lewkowicz. Both of them were veteran Zionists, completely dedicated to the ideology. They understood that electing Yaakov Freund as a secretary would improve the chances of “taking over” the community. The two began conversations with the representatives of the landlords and with Yitzchak Jachimowicz (Itzikel). The latter saw it as his duty to elect Yaakov Freund to the position as he had been asked by his father, Rabbi Avraham-Menachem (z”l) from his sick-bed, to look after his family: the man viewed this as an order. Indeed, this is how it went. Itzikel and the two landlords voted for the candidacy of Yaakov Freund who received the needed majority and was elected secretary. The chairman, Velvish Gizberg, was not happy with the outcome; he almost excommunicated the secretary and even confiscated his salary...

The matter of the salary's confiscation came to the attention of the city mayor (Bormisz-Niklashinski) who ordered the city's treasurer to pay the secretary his due and to deduct the sum from the monies due to the community (the taxes for the community needs were collected by the city). A situation therefore arose by which Yaakov Freund received all his back-pay before his immigration to Israel from the goy Niklashinski, and not from the chairman of the Jewish community, Velvish Gizberg!

Distribution of Duties

As far as I can recall, the representational duties of the movement to the two authorities mentioned before rotated between Yaakov Bielawski, Moshe Lewkowicz, Hersh-Yitzchak Katz and Hersh Zigler in the Zionist federation, and Getzel (Gustav) Dawidowicz, in the Municipality.

Hanoar Hatzioni

 

As is well known, there was also an internal division among the branches of the movement during that period. The two factions were Al HaMishmar (“On Guard”) and Et Livnot (“A Time to Build”); the strongest of them was Al HaMishmar. The duties of the committees of the two factions, at different times, were distributed as follows:

Hersh-Yitzchak Katz

Let us close this chapter about the community activists remembering one of its main figures, Hersh-Yitzchak Katz. He personified the meeting of two world-views: Chasidism and Zionism. His Chasidic background was completely “European”, and he was well-read, an expert in Talmud and Judaic subjects.

Within the community, he was always busy helping the needy. He did it with complete dedication and without expectation of reward. I remember that before Passover, he always consulted with my father Israel Majerowicz (z”l) on the matter of Maot Chitin (providing for the Passover needs of the poor.) The two of them were very friendly, and Hersh-Yitzchak Katz was a frequent guest at our home. My father was the owner of a farm (“Shenklov”) in those days, and used to donate hundreds of kilos of potatoes, onions and beets to the needy. From that position, he could also prevail upon other farm owners to do likewise.

As a result of those consultations, Hersh-Yitzchak Katz would put together a roster of the needy, by family size. We would then take care of the deliveries straight from the wagons.

As the representative of the community, Hersh-Yitzchak Katz conducted a constant struggle against the Chassidim on the matter of placing a Magen David on the roof of the synagogue (see the separate article on the matter, written by A. Kshepitzki.) He also worked diligently to raise public opinion on the subject among the town's landlords.

Immigration to Eretz Israel

The individual aspiration of each member of the movement, the “end of the road” (as per David Ben-Gurion's statement: “the end of the thief is the gallows and the end of the Zionist is immigration to Israel”) and, indeed, the goal of the entire movement was emigration to Eretz Israel. That was the central aspiration and goal. The road to realizing the goal, though, was difficult and seeded with suffering and obstacles, but, most of all, limited by whichever government ruled at the moment. One of the concrete expressions of these obstacles was the establishment of quotas (“certificates”) whose limits varied in stringency at different times, but that never veered much from a very narrow and strict number. The certificates had an age limitation also, that is, they were given up to a specific age group. Many times, this limitation necessitated a correction in the data of the candidates, but if the parents' age had been changed, the childrens' would have to be changed too, in order to avoid absurd situations. The then secretary of the branch (and also the writer of these lines) made the corrections himself and made sure that everything matched. The clerk who was the regional inspector, and whose duty was to go over the documents, found them all correct, miraculously...

The Jewish Federation In Poland:
Membership Card. Extended To Mordechai Meirowicz

 

Some cases are still remembered in which, according to the necessary data, the subjects underwent “plastic surgery” in their bios, until they looked completely “kosher”. (The veteran Zionist family of Esther and Israel Schmidt (z”l), and their son Avraham Schmidt (Shemer) and Masha Schmidt (Ben-Avi) - may they be blessed with a long life, is one of those.)

And if we are engaging in memories, we must mention also Renick Schokowsky (z”l) - who passed away on the year that this publication came out, and Zenia Tavlah. The wish to immigrate to Israel was strong among past members of Hashomer Hatzair, who were now active in the Zionist federation. For some reason, they missed the step of “self-realization”. All their efforts in using the help of their branch to join one of the departing groups (like the “business aliyah”, or the “capitalistic aliyah”, or the “middle class aliyah”) came to naught.

However, the slogan of the visionary of the State, Dr. B.Z. Herzl “nothing stands in the way of a strong will”, penetrated deeply into their consciousness, and did not let them rest. For that reason, they continued to search for ways to emigrate. At long last, they joined a tour group and departed as “tourists”. They had to deposit the sum of 1000 sterling pounds as warranty of their return, but during their stay in Eretz Israel many efforts were undertaken in order to have them stay, and for the sum of 150 sterling pounds, their status was legalized, changing thus from tourists to the much desired category of olim (immigrants.)

Members of the youth group Herzliyah
Standing, from the right: Yosef Dawidowicz, Avraham Urbach,
Mordechai Shmulewitz, Margolis, Shlomo Leizertis, Shlomo Dawidowicz;
Seated, from the right: Avraham Bergman, Moshe Kashpitzky,
Yechiel Dawidowicz, Moshe Besser, Hershl Taich,
Yitzchak Dawidowicz, Vowtzia Markowitz

 

“But, I am Going”

I recall an episode on the subject of the emigration to Eretz Israel. It had to do with the personality of the revered Zionist leader Yitzchak Greenbaum (at the time of his participation in the movement's regional congress in Kalish) and with the dialogue he entertained with our dear friend Yaakov Bielawski:

The discussion had to do with the aliyah of Zionist activists to Eretz Israel. There were those who complained about why they are not helped to immigrate to Israel, like other good Zionists were helped. Yitzchak Greenbaum answered, briefly: “they went, they are going and they will still go”.

Yaakov Bielawski (z”l) remembered the owner of a farm, Mrs. Basha Frishman (Ferkaline), who used to travel to farms in Zeznia in horse-drawn carriages. On the way, some young goyim would run after her, pelting her with stones and yelling: "Jewess, go to Palestine”. She would answer: “But, I am going”.

First gathering of immigrants from Zloczew in Israel
Seated, from right to left: Rushka Margolis, David Yosef Dawidowicz,
Rachel (daughter of the latter), Zenia Wolkowitz
Standing, from right to left: Israel Schmidt, (z”l), Selah Friedman,
Yaakov Freund, Yemima (wife of David Yosef),
Tzvia Bina Dawidowicz, Shmuel Kampinsky

 

In Memory of the Fallen

As we recall the wonderful activities of the movement, we have the sacred duty to remember those who, wholeheartedly, gave their all to its existence, prosperity, and growth, but who were not privileged to see the realization of their dreams. I want to recall those friends who fell in the struggle against the German conqueror in the many fields of battle of World War II. I also want to recall those who were exterminated by the murderous hands of the Nazi oppressor in ghettos, expulsions, concentration camps and the many other places of the Valley of Tears.

I recall, with a painful trembling and a broken heart, those young, exuberant lives that were cut short in their prime and in the midst of their blessed activism. They were destroyed while still believing that they were fighting pioneers, opening the path to a new way of life for their persecuted people. They expired while the dream of the future, built on the best humanistic values on which they were brought up, lay shattered at their feet, under the nailed boots of the cruel Nazi murderer and sunk in the depth of a blood bath.

They were swallowed in their long journey into the blackest of black and foggy night, together with so many of the Jews for whom they toiled.

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