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[Page 141]

The Joint (Distribution Committee) Action

by Shlomo Gostynski

Translated by Pamela Russ

 

gos141.jpg
Shlomo Gostynski

 

The Germans, more and more, removed all sorts of grains and life's necessities from Poland, and that which they left behind for the starving people was carefully controlled by the government. People had no food, and this took its toll on the health of the residents in the cities and in the towns, especially on the poor class of the Jewish sector. Everywhere, epidemics raged. Many died as victims of the typhus epidemic. In the large cities, Warsaw, Lodz, the destruction was not as evident as in the smaller towns, where everyone lived as one family. If one died of typhus, the entire town mourned and cried for the victim.

In a town such as our Gostynin, where the typhus epidemic ripped away tens of victims, the destruction was fearfully huge. The town administration and the magistrate had to extend their aid activities. In a house on Dluga Street, the magistrate set up a hospital specifically for typhus patients; on Pobteczne Street, they changed over Yakov Matil's house into a clinic, especially for the Jewish sick.

There was practically no house without a patient. Everyone lived with the thought that he was a candidate to become sick.

In the town, they began to regard the group “Linat Hatzedek” [aid society] …

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… differently. Before, they used to look at the organization as company for the youth, whose entire job consisted of dressing up on Purim, and having several gatherings a year for their own honor. But in truth, Linat Hatzedek provided great help for the sick. The group would help the poor sick people with money or with medicine. Their greatest assistance was when one of them would come to keep an eye on the sick person throughout the night. That enabled the household, the sick person's family, to rest and then the next day they could continue with their normal …

 

gos142.jpg
Linat Hatzedek in Gostynin
Standing from the right: Feivish Lichtenstajn, Shmuel Keller, Chana Zajacs, Shmuel-Boruch Matil
Seated from the right: Yisroel Zelig Kuczinski, Yosef Gonshor, Yitzchok Izak Gerst, Shlome Matil, Henoch Kuczinski,
Bottom: Yakov Sarna, Boruch Meyer Matil

 

… daily life. Now when typhus and dysentery were raging, Linat Hatzedek, under the directorship of my friend Yosel Gonshor, organized and extended its activities.

Gonshor pulled in the volunteer work of young people, who helped out greatly the hard hit families.

I would like to describe the incident with my friend Shmuel Chaim Hode's. He was not a member of the Linat Tzedek, but he nonetheless wanted to help take care of the sick. But he was too young for this work, and no matter how we pleaded with him to take on other work, he remained fixed in his wishes. Tragically, he contracted typhus and he himself died from it.

The relationship between the town and Linat Tzedek changed dramatically. The group became completely respected. Everyone gave their deepest thanks to the tireless deeds of my energetic friend Yosel Gonshor. (In the years of the Holocaust, he and his entire family died in the Warsaw ghetto.)

* * *

In the middle of winter 1917, a representative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee came to Gostynin from Warsaw. He had been working there for a while. I don't know if the representative of the Joint had other things to take care of in Gostynin, but I remember well that his main goal was to find out how many Jews there were in town who would need help for the upcoming Passover, in the traditional campaign of “Maos Chitin” [donating food for the holidays: matzo, wine, etc.].

At that time, Jewish parties and organizations in Poland were already able to operate legally. Even in towns such as Gostynin, the parties were already all organized, some with more and some with fewer members. The Joint representative began to negotiate with these organized parties, to establish a united committee that should take charge of the assistance campaign. It turns out that in time, the Joint set up an assistance campaign in Gostynin through private individuals, who …

[Page 144]

… distributed Joint monies in a wrong and simply dishonest way. The organizational part of this committee was set by the Joint representative through the Local Council [gemina]. The synagogue supervisor [dozor or gabbai], Noteh Matil, permitted a notice to be posted in the synagogue and the Beis Medrash saying that the first meeting of the party representatives would be held on Monday, in the hall of the Local Council.

On Shabbath and Sunday, the town was on wheels [everyone was all excited and busy]. Every party, every court, tried to present their best delegate to this planned committee in order to earn the prestige of the Gostynin Jewish people.

The chairman of the first meeting in the Council was the Joint representative. The Council was represented by Noteh Matil and Hershel Alberstajn; the delegates from the Zionist organization were Avrohom Dovid Kuczinski and Yekel Linderman; the People's Party, although small in number, also sent two representatives: V. Shafran and Dovid Gliksberg; the Orthodox: Yitzchok Shtern and Shmuel Meyer Bruzdowski; from the Poalei Zion: Dovid Levi and the writer of these lines [Shlomo Gostynski]. The Bund did not send any delegate, because at that time the Bund declined to collaborate on any work with the Council. The Joint representative requested that all those present should sign a declaration that each person was bearing the responsibility for the entire job of the committee. Yitzchok Shtern and Hershel Albershtajn declined to put their signature, but they nonetheless remained on the committee because everyone vouched for their honesty. That's how the representatives of the Gostynin Jewish parties and groups constituted the new assistance committee. It was decided with the Warsaw messenger [the Joint representative] that in order that the Joint should know how much flour for matzo Gostynin would need, the committee should send a detailed list to Warsaw of all their needs.

Three days later, the second meeting of the committee took place at the Rav's. At that time, the Zionists withdrew their representative Avrohom Dovid Kuczinski and instead put up the delegate Tuvia …

[Page 145]

… Jakubowycz, who was more popular with the Jewish residents. Noteh Matil opened the meeting and suggested that they should elect the Rav as the permanent chairman of the committee. I put forward the candidacy of Tuvia Jakubowycz as the representative of the largest party in Gostynin. But Jakubowycz declined in deference to the Rav. The party representatives brought detailed lists of those who needed assistance. But it turned out that the lists were not exhaustive. Yakov Linderman suggested that on Shabbath in shul and in the Beis Medrash, they should let it be known that anyone who needs financial aid should sign up in the Council or with one of the committee members. The suggestion was taken on with an amendment by Dovid Levi, that it should be stated in writing, absolutely stressed, that this is not about charity or about handouts, but it is strictly a gift that our brothers in America sent over, and no one has to be embarrassed to come and give his name and receive his share of the gift.

It's worthwhile to describe a typical incident that occurred at this point, the first of a lineup of later disagreements and difference of opinions in the history of the assistance committee. The representative of the Orthodox, Meyer Bruzdowski, expressed himself in opposition to Yakov Linderman's suggestion, saying that “It's not nice that we should show the Council how to write an announcement, and in general, the youth in the committee have to sit and listen, and not want to be the leaders.” The dozor, Noteh Matil, interrupted Bruzdowski's speech, and said to him that he does not have to assume the honor of the Council unto himself, and the most important thing was that the assistance activity was not coming from the community and no one will be more worthy than anyone else in front of the committee. Dovid Levy requested that the chairman should underline that all the representatives in the committee, without any age differentiation, have equal rights, and he demanded that Shmuel Meyer Brudzowski pardon himself for his insulting words towards the younger committee members. For the purpose of peace, the chairman tried to diminish the incident; he said that …

[Page 146]

… it did not pay do get insulted if someone jumps out with some words. In the end, everyone wants to do a good thing – to distribute the assistance from the Joint honestly. He asked the dozor to get the announcement so that they could send the list to Warsaw the following week. And with that, the meeting adjourned.

Meanwhile, the existence of the committee became known in the city, and of the announcement as well. Many became really excited. Representatives of the committee went from house to house and noted the number of members in each family. It happened that some registered with two or even more committee representatives …

 

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Founders, managing, and auditing committee of the Gemilas Chesed funds [non-profit, interest free loan organizations] in Gostynin

Moshe Ziger, Y.M. Krusnewski, Yisroel Meyer Rusak, Efraim Matil, Moshe Matil, Berish Zhikhlinski, Moshe Morycz, Tuvia Jakubowycz, Ben Zion Keller, Yakov Zhikhlinski, M.B. Zandman

 

… with the hope that they would get a double share of their promised products. Yidel the watercarrier's wife, “Potje Minje,” a Jewish woman, well known in Gostynin, came to the writer of these lines, with lots of complaints about fairness. “How can it be? Where is the wine for the four cups [for the Passover seder]? And meat, fish, and other things?” They told her that all these things were under my responsibility, and in a loud voice, she demanded that I give these things to her. There were also incidents of lending out children in order to receive larger portions of flour. This went on not out of dishonesty, but out of great poverty that existed in the town.

There was also a great tumult in the parties. Everyone looked to get monies from the party funds, so they wanted their list of those who needed help for Passover to be longer than that of the other party's. There were really those who put their names on the list not because they needed help, but just to do a favor for a prestigious party man. Factions were set up. Mordechai, Boruch Matil's, who always felt that the Council was adequate, and that “We don't need these parties and the youth who want to grab away everything and offer their opinions on everything,” played the leading role in the opposition. His main opponent was Chaim Leyb Maskal. He proposed the argument that “We've already seen what has happened in the former years, when the wealthy businessmen squandered the community's money and the poor had nothing to eat. They didn't even give them potatoes.”

This dispute, as usual in Gostynin, took place in front of Meyer'l Burak's restaurant where the water carriers would meet. The main spokesman was Mendel the water carrier. He well represented his colleagues Beryl, Judel, and Gershon. To this business, would also come Laibe the sand carrier and his son Izak the day-laborer. Mordechai Solmanowycz ran the show. He would deride Mordechai, Boruch's, saying, “It won't help him. The youth will win this time, because they're right.” With that, Mordechai Solmanowycz …

[Page 148]

… would turn directly to those who were standing around him: “What's wrong? Is Tuvia Jakubowycz not good enough for you? And Yekel Linderman does not have enough respectability for you? He needs his aristocracy. One of ours is not good enough for him.”

Mordechai, Boruch's Matil, did not hold back with an answer. He would talk about the Local Council as if he himself was a dozor [overseer of the Jewish community], and he would say: “Without a doubt, the Local Council would give a Mark for each person in the family. What difference would that make to you? But if they don't want the dozores [overseers] to have any opinions, then they won't give you any money. And since when were the Zionists concerned for the poor? Just give them Palestine and they'll forgive you for everything right away.”

In this type of noisy crowd, there was this small person, who would answer to everyone. Speaking was difficult for him. He would stutter and make long pauses between one word and another. But what he said was always relevant to the issue, thought out, and people would hear him out patiently. He possessed the skill of convincing [winning over] even an opponent who would debate with him. In particular, he felt very much at home when the issues were around the poor, unemployed people. His name was Wajnstajn; he was from Lodz. But he felt like a resident in Gostynin. In these verbal disputes, he would not discuss anything directly with Boruch's Mordechai, but would approach the people around him and ask: “Since when does the Local Council concern itself with the poor people in Gostynin? At the head of the Council are wealthy people, people who own houses and estates, and they have to represent the paupers who need help? Remember how it went in the earlier years. What did the Council do for the poor the entire year? Do the wealthy in Gostynin worry that the poor can't even buy for themselves, unfortunately, that which the Germans give from their ration cards?”

“We must have,” Wajnstajn would say with great effort on each word, “our own representatives who should distribute the help honestly …

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… and according to the numbers in each family. As it says in the Ethics of Our Fathers [Pirkei Avos], “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?” Those are the sorts of representatives they should have on their lists. Down with the dependence on the honesty of the wealthy! We must put our hands to the task!”

At these words, Wajnstajn would take out a list from his breast pocket and show that there were already a number of families undersigned, and he would ask that the crowd listening there to him should sign the list and write down the number of people in their families. When Gershon the water carrier said that he had already signed the list of Ber Gonshor and Lipa Pluczer, then Wajnstajn would assure him that this was the same list as the worker's party, and Gershon would already worry that his daughter, who was not yet signed up on any list, should sign up on this list with Wajnstajn.

Understandably, the other parties did not sit idly by. They also worked hard to get large number of signatures on their lists. Krisnewski from the Zionists put in huge efforts. His main argument was that with the Zionists, the most prominent, wealthy men of Gostynin are partnered, and therefore, the poor people should only sign up with them. Apparently, the Zionists made the greatest efforts to have the largest number of names. They didn't do their work with any great noise, but discreetly, from person to person. As it later turned out, it seems that the masses were more loyal to the workers' party. The largest number of families had signed up with them, with the guarantee that the workers' party would take care of their interests better than the other party.

The meeting of the committee that took place on the Wednesday after that Shabbath, was from the onset, a stormy one. The party representatives had to put their cards down, showing the number of families who had signed up with them. On the Council's list, there were 25 families; on the workers' party, Poalei Zion, there were 37 families; on the Zionists' party's list there were 22; of the People's party there were 6; and on the Orthodox, there were only 5. Shmuel Brudzowksi, the representative of the Orthodox, …

[Page 150]

… explained that among the religious Jews many were embarrassed to ask for help. In total, the number of people who needed help was about 100 souls, and for a town the size of Gostynin, this was a pretty high percentage. Some of those who had signed up actually did have work, but did not earn enough to live.
Dovid Levi suggested that the committee set up a commission of three members who should bear the responsibility of distributing the money and the flour. Tuvia Jakubowycz ignored the suggestion and put forth the question of who would distribute the money and flour when it arrived in Warsaw? The majority of the committee members expressed that the entire committee should be involved with the distribution of the help. The dozor Noteh Matil remarked that the distribution of money and flour is a time consuming job so that it would be better to designate two people for this task and then they should elect a commission that would supervise the job of those designated. He added that the Council would pay those designated for the task. With a majority of 8 to 3, the dozor's suggestion was accepted. The dozor proposed Feivish Unger as one of those designated, and the other Yitzchok Volf Lomski. No one had any opposition to these two, and the suggestions were accepted.

It was a lot more difficult to elect a supervisory commission. Each party wanted to have their person on the commission. Noteh Matil made a fine gesture. He said that the commission should comprise only three, but that every committee member who would wish to work voluntarily with the commission should be committed to the work. Those elected were: Noteh Matil the dozor, Tuvia Jakubowycz, and Shloime Gostynski.

The Rav, as the chairman of the committee, remarked that the meeting had done an important job, but the committee members shouldn't think that once the commission of three had been selected, they were exempt from any work. But he proposed that the committee as a whole should undertake to do all possible work.

[Page 151]

Shafran, of the People's party, put the question to the committee that had a special secretary, of whether the secretary's work would be done by the Council's secretary. The dozor, Noteh Matil, replied that the Council would accept the decision of the majority, and he thinks that the Council secretary is familiar with the work. And the main thing was that there would be no further expenses. In the end, the committee accepted the suggestion of Tuvia Jakubowycz: The committee should select someone to officially record all decisions of the supervisory commission. As candidates for secretary, proposed were Yekel Linderman of the Zionists, and Dovid Levi of the Workers' party. For voting, the representative of the Orthodox, Shmuel Meyer Brudzowski, explained that he did not see what his group still had to do with this committee, since all the work was controlled by the Zionists. In order to avoid arguments, at the suggestion of the Zionists, H. Shafran, the representative of the smaller parties, was elected as the secretary of the committee.

The representative of the Orthodox, at that same meeting, requested that to the list of those who needed, should be added a designated sum for 20 anonymous families. There are – he explained – many families who don't want to come and ask for help, but they should be given help in the form of Matan Be'seiser [discreet donation]. This suggestion evoked a storm. They boiled and stewed and tossed around arguments and the participants were hot.

The youth just sat. The Council had to listen to voices of the parties. The sharp person left the social arena.

The committee distributed the help, without biases, objectively, and honestly.

The first Joint assistance project in Gostynin not only supported the poor, the impoverished, and the victims of the war, but also cemented and impacted the social life in the town.


[Page 152]

Our Youth Leaders

by Gershon Yudkowski (Israel)

Translated by Pamela Russ

Our Gostynin Jewish youth was in large numbers thoroughly infused with the ideals of Zionism and Jewish revival in the Land of Israel. The majority did not see any future for themselves in remaining in their hometowns or in the cities and towns in Poland, where the government's regime always tried to enforce a more difficult life for the Jewish citizens. The Jewish population of Gostynin sympathized with the Zionist youth and gave them all means of expression to their sentiments.

Let us mention the leaders of our youth that planted these holy ideals into their hearts. With the fire of their impassioned souls they lit sparks of idealism and commitment into every single youth who stood in the circle of their influence. They built institutions in the city, built a generation that was prepared to sacrifice themselves for Zionist ideals. Thanks to their activity, a number of Gostyniner saved themselves from the last destruction and, incorporating themselves into the camp of pioneers [chalutzim], left their old homes and came to the Land of Israel to build the country and build themselves up as well.

Let us mention the youth–leader Y.M. Krusznewski, of blessed memory. He was the real leader in Gostynin. He was a man who didn't chase honor, but everyone had the greatest respect for him. He was always loyal and vigilant for our movement, and brought help to each person according to his needs. He himself desired to come to Israel – and more than once he explained to the Jews of Gostynin that there is no future in the galut [exile]. We are only helping, he would say, to build up foreign countries, that's where we are directing all our energies and potential – and all our …

[Page 153]

… possessions will fall into their hands. It is time – he said – to think about our own fate.

At the time when his other friends were trying to have their children attain some &147;substantial goal&148; in life, become certified professionals, he was proud of the fact that his own son was a working man in Israel, a military man and citizen in the country that was to become an independent Jewish land.

Y.M. Krusnewski earlier on, foresaw the destruction of Polish Jewry. He helped every individual immigrate to the Land of Israel.

 

The youth leaders of all the regions – from the year 1915 to 1920

gos153.jpg
Seated from right to left: Hershel Moricz, Shloime Matil, Yakov Sarna, Mordechai Reuven Moskol, Feivish Likhtenstajn
Standing from right to left: (unknown name), Zalman Bressler, Yehoshua Domb, Yehoshua Matil, Yechiel Yehoshua Ploczer, Shmuel Keller, Ziskind Goldman, Waserman, Shmuel Boruch Hodes, Simcha Gilman

 

[Page 154]

… He remained a guide for us, and a pure Zionist activist. May his memory remain pure and holy for us.

* * *

Yakov Linderman was a real Jewish Torah scholar. He possessed a golden heart and a boundless love for every Jew. He always held long and profound speeches and wanted to show that Zionism is a people's movement and an uplifted way of life. He saw the importance of having a Zionist be at the head of all types of Jewish institutions – economic, cultural, as well as socio–political. All the efforts of Polish Jews – including the Gostyniner – must go in this direction to prepare the youth for a new life in the Jewish land. All the years, he dreamed of immigrating to Israel, but it was not fated for him. May his memory remain dear to us.

* * *

Zieger, of blessed memory, had the reputation of a man of extensive knowledge, and his cleverness radiated from him. But he was opposed to using terror tactics in the country. More than once, however, he agreed that only with weapons would they be able to create an independent Land of Israel – and there will come a period of great immigration to the land. May his memory remain eternal.

* * *

Gad Zhikhlinski was a talented and thinking person. He was an opponent of compromise. Only with power – he felt – can one win the struggle and carve out a victory. In the later years, he suffered through a difficult illness. He made efforts to remove the youths' apathy and indifference. The youth must sacrifice itself for the national independence in the Land of Israel – only in that way can there be a victory. He dreamed of remaining active in the …

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… underground groups of the land – but it was not fated for him to achieve this goal. He died with all our other martyrs.

* * *

There should also be mentioned here the person who was in another camp, who did not believe in the Zionist ways, but was deeply infused with love for the Jewish people and their culture:

Yakov Leyb Pinczewski, a man with radiant eyes and sparkling, original ideas. He was raised in the period of revolutions and inhaled the theories of socialism – and he remained loyal to the Bund. Sometimes, he became excited with his own unusual way of thinking. He loved Jews just the way they were, with their fate and struggles. He was a spirited follower of folk–culture, of the Yiddish language and Yiddish literature.

Just as the entire Bund in Poland, he fiercely defended the &147;now&148; [present] and struggled and hoped that Jews would be given their full rights to live, work, and earn a living in Poland. He was the first martyr during the liquidation of the Jews in Gostynin, and was part of the tragic fate of the Jews in Poland.

* * *

Let us remember them all, these idealistic youth leaders, who served as models in their devotion for Jewish ideals and who taught the Jewish youth in Gostynin to live a full, Jewish life.


[Page 156]

The Poalei–Zion Youth in Gostynin

by Shlomo Cwajghaft (Israel)

Translated by Pamela Russ

 

gos157.jpg
Shlomo Cwajghaft

 

Our town of Gostynin totaled 400 Jewish families, about 15% of the general population, and excelled in all areas of cultural, social, and political life. The older generation was still seeped in the traditions of former times, later under the influence of the great Torah leader Rebbe Yechiel Meyer Lifszycz, of blessed memory. This is about the time before World War One. How did Jewish children receive their spiritual education at that time, and who were the educators then – the well–known teachers, generally without pedagogical skills, who because they needed to earn a living, had to teach children. And it was known under what conditions the children would spend their time from morning until late in the evening, in these so–called schools. This cheder [school] was the living quarters for the teacher and his family that sometimes totaled from 8–10 souls. And together with the young boys, they generally had all to be in one room. The children were there for 10 hours a day – in the summer without air, and in winter without the necessary light. That's where they received their spiritual education. I would like to mention here several teachers who are definitely known to Gostynin compatriots, such as Leybish Tremski, Leizer Melamed and his son Yosel – the teaching job went by inheritance from father to son – Avrohom Meyer Frajszman, and Leybel Zizhyk.

It was big news when the well–known teacher and educator …

[Page 157]

… Rabbi Yonah Borukh Katz decided to open a modern, Hebrew school under the name “Torah ve'Daas” [“Torah and Knowledge”], or as it was called then “Cheder Metukan” [“the Improved Cheder”]. This school already had a different appearance than a regular “cheder.” There were two bright rooms; each pupil had his permanent seat, and did not change his seating place without the permission of the teacher. In the corner of each room there was a large blackboard with chalk, as well as a special place for the teacher – a “katedra” [like a throne in a cathedral]. They learned how to write and read Hebrew, grammar, Tanakh [Torah, Neviim, Ketuvim; Torah, Prophets, Writings], and math. The older students also studied Russian and Polish. Other than that, they also studied music and sport. A bell let everyone know the times for the beginning and the end of the learning sessions. Often, we would go for walks outside the city, in the forest (dibankes [oak trees]) and in other places and very much enjoyed the beautiful nature and plush pathways with which Gostynin…

 

The Poalei Zion Committee in Gostynin (1932)

gos157.jpg
Seated from right to left: Efraim Matil, Shlomo Cwajghaft, Pesse Izbiczki, Eliezer Flajszman;
Standing from right to left: Gershon Matil and Ezra Matil.

 

[Page 158]

… was exceptional. The pupils organized performances on Chanukah and Purim. On the national and religious holidays, the teacher would explain the background [and purpose] of the holiday, but at the same time he would explain the holiday as nationalist Zionist. In the school, there was also a children's library under the name of “Perakh” [blossom]. The children would borrow books from there to read.

But one fine day, Reb Borukh Katz closed down the school that had already earned itself a fine name. He went over to Kutno, and acquired a teacher's position in the Jewish gymnasium. The appeals from the parents and students did not help at all. Without having any choice, the students had to spread out in many different directions. Some went back to the cheders, and some to the general public schools [folk schools], and a large number went over to the government gymnasium. Until then, the Jews avoided the gymnasium, especially those who were forced to study and write on Shabbath. But in an instant, the times changed. Other winds began to blow. The youth began to long for education. Many Jewish students entered into the gymnasium. In the lower classes, 30–40 percent of the students were Jewish.

The teacher of the Jewish religion in the government gymnasium was Professor Yakov Zarkhyn, who was at the same time director of the Jewish people's school. Professor Zarkhyn himself was not religious, but he was a nationalistic Jew, a committed Zionist. And just like Rabbi Katz, he also raised the children with a Zionist spirit. Along with religion, he also taught Zionism. He infused the holidays with a national, Zionist spirit. And on the national Polish holidays, when the Christian students celebrated their holidays of independence, Professor Zarkhyn would assemble the Jewish students in the synagogue and explain to them – along with the Zionist activists, such as Krusznewski, Linderman, Jakubowycz, and others – the point of the holiday and did not forget to …

[Page 159]

… mention and underscore the duties that stand before the Jewish nation, and their efforts for national liberation and their own country.

Together with the nationalist moment that began to grow within the youth and the students, also began the first wave of socialist thought. The pupils of the higher classes, Moshe Klajnbort and Shloime Krancz, who were ideologically close to socialism, were practically speaking the pioneers in spreading socialist thought among the Jewish students. They established a circle [discussion group] to familiarize the youth with the history of the workers' movement. All this came about in the context of a sports group that played football. This was in the final years before World War One. With a ball in hand, we students would stroll twice a week into the forest, to the oak trees, and with an interest in hearing the lectures of Krancz and Klajnbart.

Our student circle, which completely absorbed the teachings of Zionism through the teachers Katz and Zarkhyn, at the same time also became familiar with the idea of socialism – and the circle was in fact the seed of the future Poalei Tzion movement in Gostynin.

With the formation of the Polish Republic, and at the same time after the pogrom in Yaffa, when Yosef Khaim Brenner and his friends were murdered, a group of sympathizers of workers of the Land of Israel, decided to establish a Poalei Tzion party. The initiators were: Shmuel Wolf Pinczewski, Avrohom Hersh Matil, Eliezer Flajsman, Efraim Matil, Sender Gerst, and Yehoshua Matil. I was one of the friends invited to the gathering at the location of the “Agudah,” at the home of Yitzkhok Sarna on Kutner Street. We were the avant garde ones that recruited other friends and prepared the ground–breaking meeting that already met at its own location at the house of Mendel Bagno on Olsowe 1.

Until the establishment of the Poalei Tzion group there was no real party life in Gostynin. All the social …

[Page 160]

… work was concentrated around philanthropic institutions, around the Y.L. Peretz library, and later to a certain extent, around the professional unions. Gostynin was exceptional in its beautiful tradition that in the years of the intense party struggles, also affected the classes of the Jewish population and preserved the wholesomeness of the opposing relationships.

The Poalei Tzion did intensive work in all areas. Much was done for Keren Kayemet, Keren Hayesod Letovat, the fund for the workers of the Land of Israel. The personalities of the committee for culture and labor were: Shmuel Wolf Pinczewski, Yehoshua Matil and his wife Ruzhke Rozenberg, Professor Yitzkhok Shor from Kutno, Shloime Neiman. They …

 

The Poalei Tzion Committee in Gostynin

gos160.jpg
Seated from right to left: Kreuczer, Eliezer Flajsman, Shmuel Wolf Pinczewski, Efraim Matil, Dzhencziol
Standing from right to left: Vava Morycz, Kreuczer, Shimon Reuven Dzhencziol, unknown name, Avrohom Mikholski, Shmulek Matil

 

[Page 161]

… opened evening courses for the youth who for all kinds of reasons did not attend school.

In the city council and in the Jewish community, the Poalei Tzion was represented by the comrades Yehoshua Matil and Sender Gers, who energetically defended the interests of the Jewish population.

In the last years, on the eve of the First World War, a unit of Hechalutz [“the Pioneers” training Jewish youth who planned to settle in the Land of Israel] was established in Gostynin, with a Hakhshara [preparing and education for resettlement] point for two groups of ten comrades. There they received training for collective work and life in the Land of Israel. Several of this Hakhshara group, after difficult experiences in the Nazi murder camps and the Russian exile in Siberia – finally found their way to the independent State of Israel.

 

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