Days go by and the unknown figure becomes part of the human landscape, part of the town's daily life.
Sometimes he would walk along the shores of the town's many rivers, looking into the clear, slowly flowing water. At other times he would look at the broad river where ships were heading towards distant places, and barges and towing boats were flowing along the strong current to the ocean, his eyes shining, immersed in thought.
The young man would wander about for hours, return to his place of residence, to be warmly and respectfully welcomed by his hosts. Slowly he would recover, pursue his daily chores, till nightfall, when in roaming dreams he would weave a wondrous tale created by his burning imagination. Who is this man? - The answer is as follows.
Avraham Mapo, who would one day attain fame as one of the bright "Haskala" (Enlightenment) authors, was born in Salvodka (1807), a suburb of Kovna, in a miserable, poor house, more like a wooden shed. His father, Rabbi Yekutiel was a teacher ("Melamed"), scholar and a man of dreams. While still a young boy, the son already excelled in Gemara (Talmud) and other Jewish studies. As was the custom in those days, he married at the age of eighteen.
His natural inclination for broadening his outlook induced Mapo to study foreign languages and get acquainted with the world beyond Judaism. Thus he adopted the ideas of "Haskala" which broke through the Jewish ghetto's boundaries. His father, an observant Jew, found it difficult to see his son "become an infidel". He also found his son's walking alone in fields and forest strange. However, the young Mapo, the dreamer, continued to walk alone in the Alkasoti mountains, far from the town and the society of man, he sat in a hut, seeing yet not being seen. He absorbed nature and lived in a world of mystery. In his imagination he saw a link between the landscape around him and the distant landscape of the Bible.
The Author Avraham Mapo
His eyes beheld noblemen and prophets, simple people, vine growers and yeomen. The imagination flows, and the hand writes, writes and erases, writes and erases . . . all beginnings are hard. Nevertheless, the list of words becomes longer and but a few men of word and mind look at them and praise and laud the future writer.
One day Mapo moves from Slavodka to a village not far from Kovna. The house has become very crowded and poor. He has to support his family - a wife and two children. At the village, Mapo gets a job as family teacher, as was the custom in those days. He is enchanted by the village atmosphere, but feels lonely.
After a short while, Mapo is invited to serve as teacher in the home of a wealthy man in the town of Yurburg. This is an immense change. According to the biographers, Mapo found peace and quiet in Yurburg. At the home of his wealthy, friendly host, he led a comfortable life, in a quiet, pleasant and cultured atmosphere. As Yurburg was close to the German-Prussian border, its inhabitants were more accustomed to the western-European style. There were no zealots here as in Slavodka, who interfered in the individual's life. Here everyone lived as he pleased. In Yurburg Mapo finds "Haskala" books in Hebrew and other languages, and they broaden his outlook. Mapo arrived in Yurburg in 1832, a young man, barely 24 years old. The few people who read his early attempts at writing complimented him and encouraged him to write. There is no doubt that Yurburg was the proper place for him to make progress in his literary endeavors.
Yurburg is not a metropolis, but here he found a small window to the world at large. The contacts the Jews of Yurburg had with Germany in general, and Jewish Germany in particular, indirectly affected the socio-cultural atmosphere of the town. There was a fresh spirit in Yurburg. The "Berlin Haskala", which stood for progress, had not yet been accepted in the Jewish community in eastern Europe. Yurburg, therefore, was the bridge to the new world. Here Mapo breathed top-of-the mountain air. He read and studied. The beautiful landscape around Yurburg served as the background for his literary creations. "IALAG" (I..L.Gordon) said that in Kovna he secretly learned the language of the past and wrote in secret, but here, in Yurburg, he was free to do as he pleased. During his stay here, without his family - his wife and children remained all the time in the town where he was born - Mapo could devote himself to furthering his auto didactic studies without disturbance, and also note down his thoughts.
The biographer H.A. Madalea and his close friends, the authors Kaplan and Friedberg, testify that already in Kovna in 1830, i.e. two years before he arrived in Yurburg, he started to write the book "Shulamit", which would later be called "The Love of Zion". Indeed, here in Yurburg, thanks to the comfortable circumstances, and the beautiful surroundings, the mountains and forests, the fields and the water flowing through the town's three rivers - the Neiman, Mitova and Imstra, Mapo was able to concentrate on the writing of his book. The strong impressions of the quiet village life, near the town, gave Mapo a feeling of peace, and induced him to write. The landscape of the Alkasoti mountains near Kovna was also impressive, but the landscape of Yurburg left a stronger mark on him and he identified more with the inhabitants of the town and the village.
The magic of the spectacular Yurburg landscape caused his pen to bring to life the world of the Bible, with a clearness that is unparalleled in our literature. Nevertheless, it appears that, as he himself testifies, Mapo had many doubts, as he wrote to his friends - "I built and destroyed, built and destroyed". . . both in Kovna and in Yurburg. The wish to produce a perfect oeuvre drove him to be very strict with himself and to be his own harshest critic.
Mapo's years in Yurburg were very fruitful. We have no tangible proof, but it seems likely that here in Yurburg Mapo completed his writing and polished his book "Love of Zion" and perhaps here he started to weave the tale of his next creation - "The guilt of Samaria" which is in fact a continuation in style, character and spirit.
Yurburg, therefore, was an important interim stage in Mapo's life and literary creation. How many years did he spend in Yurburg? Some say seven years, others claim more. The biographers differ in opinion. There are no documents.
It is important to mention that Mapo felt comfortable at the home of his master in Yurburg. Mapo's relations with his host were excellent and they shared a sincere friendship. All the members of the family, both young and old, liked and respected Mapo the teacher, and so did the residents of Yurburg. He made friends, people of intellect, interested in writing and knowledge. Here he was able to discuss any subject with his friends, in the spirit of the time. Mapo liked the liberal atmosphere.When he left Yurburg, he did so with fondness in his heart. He also liked his work as a teacher at the Russian-Jewish school.
However, we cannot end Mapo's Yurburg story without mentioning the composition which bibliographers consider his Yurburg adventure. In his teachings, Mapo realized that he did not have a reading book to give to his pupils, as was the custom in enlightened countries. Mapo wanted to spare his pupils abstract dialectics. He therefore decided to draw up a text for students called "Pedagogic training", a sort of student handbook to study Hebrew and grammar and acquire general knowledge. In this book Mapo included his own original story called "Beth Hanan". The story is based on what he experienced in Yurburg. The two heroes of the story are Hanan and Nahbi. Hanan is an entirely positive person, symbol of kindness and purity, while Nahbi is the complete opposite, entirely negative, an evil person. According to the critics, Hanan in fact personifies the man at whose home Mapo stayed in Yurburg, he knew him well and was acquainted with his lifestyle. The didactic-educational trend is clearly reflected in the "Beth Hanan" story by presenting a good example to the children.
The following is the opening chapter of the "Beth Hanan" story, in order to give the reader an idea of what it is all about. Thus Mapo describes in the "Beth Hanan" story his master and benefactor in the town of Zafron - Yurburg.
Nahbi is a miser, unable of giving, who tells his parents: I did not see them, ignores his brothers and relatives - - -
In his (Hanan's) house there is pity for the poor, and sympathy for those close to him. The hungry knock on Hanan's door and leave it satisfied - - - Hanan is successful in all his undertakings, for the Lord has mercy on him - and the inhabitants of Zafron praise Hanan, for he is a cherished person, without any envy or hatred in his heart. Nahbi hates him, yet he does not hate Nahbi. Nahbi chases the poor away; Hanan is kind to the poor.
---Zafron is a small town, but there are many poor people there. They are not worried about the Passover holiday, for they are certain of Hanan's charity, he buys flour and his assistants bake matzot (unleavened bread) for the poor. Once the (hametz) leaven is removed from the homes, food is sent to the poor: matzot, meat, wine, oil and sweets for the holidays, and those who receive assistance, eat and drink merrily and bless the home of the righteous man. --
The more we read about Hanan's home and his activities, the more curious we get as to who this "righteous" person is, this man from Yurburg; we will probably not be able to discover the secret, but suffice it to know there were such righteous people as Hanan in Zafron-Yurburg, they were the fathers of this small town of which we are proud.
Mapo left Yurburg and took the "Pedagogic training" book with him- the cherished pedagogic- didactic asset so hard to find in those days. However, Mapo did not consider "Pedagogic training" an important creation. He thought it was a useful handbook merely made for teaching. Thus the book was forgotten, until Yosef Klauzner, the historian and critic, found the "Pedagogic training" book at the end of his life; he took the "Beth Hanan" story and published it. The story became very popular with the young, and was an innovation at the end of the 19th century. When the book was published, Mapo was no longer alive.
After he left Yurburg, Mapo remained in Raisen for a while. In this town too, he found educated friends who had great esteem for the author with whose writings they had already become familiar. From Raisen, Mapo returned to Kovna. In those days he also visited Vilna, met the "Haskala" authors - Adam Hacohen, Michal, Shai Fine, Shulman and the young "IALAG". They had all read his work "Love of Zion" and recommended it be published. Indeed, in early 1850 Mapo submitted the "Love of Zion" book first to the Russian censor and then had it published. However, publication was held up, and the book was only published in 1853. The book left a deep impression on the readers. Authors and intellectuals demanded he also publish his other books. Mapo was very happy. The publication of "Love of Zion" lifted Mapo's spirits. All the wise men of Israel took pleasure in praising the book. The author Peretz Smolenkin compared Mapo to the prophets of Israel. No other Hebrew author had received such honor before him.
The young were charmed by him, but there were also those who envied him, harassed him and spoilt the little happiness fate had reserved for him.
Those who read Avraham Mapo's "Love of Zion" - and indeed who did not read this wonderful book? - were deeply impressed by the host of wonderful descriptions of ancient, beautiful and spectacular landscapes.
The author of this creation which artfully describes these attractive landscapes in Judea and the Jerusalem mountains - had never set eyes on them, for though he saw them in his mind's eyes, Mapo never became acquainted with the land of his fathers, and had no idea of its beauty.
However, apparently there is no good without evil. In the meantime his wife had died, and he himself was weakened by a malignant illness. He was no longer able to provide for himself, and had to accept a position as teacher in Vilna, this time at the home of a rich but difficult man, who insulted him. His friends then commented sadly and carelessly -"Mapo is forced to swallow insults so that he will know that in addition to the home of Hanan in Yurburg, there is also the home of Nahbi in Vilna . . . " Without the encouragement and material help of his brother Matityahu, who lived in Paris, Mapo's situation would have been very bad.
We, the students at the Hebrew Gymnasium in Yurburg, merely heard the stories remembered by our fathers' fathers about Avraham Mapo in Yurburg, but at the Gymnasium we read his books - "Love of Zion" and "Samaria's guilt"- and were taught to understand them by our excellent teacher, Avraham Kosotzky. We enjoyed the biblical-ornate style of the books, their fascinating contents and exciting adventures.
We were very fond of the heroes of the book "Amnon and Tamar" - the fruit of Mapo's imagination. We were particularly impressed by the descriptions of the enchanting landscape. But we, the students of the Gymnasium, were not surprised at the descriptions, for Mapo who spent quite a few years in Yurburg (more than seven!) walked in its surroundings, and formed a strong attachment with its landscape. We, the students, did not doubt that the Yurburg landscape formed the background of Mapo's descriptions in his books. Therefore, we students were very proud. Avraham Mapo was not a Zionist, according to Herzl's definition, but he was a subconscious Zionist, the man with the vision of the Return to Zion, such as Rabbi Yehuda Halevy, Moshe Hess, Rabbi Levy-Yitzhak from Berditshov and Heinrich Heine in their time.
When we, the sons of Yurburg, read his books "Love of Zion" and "Samaria's guilt" we too experienced the vision of Return to Zion. We got up and went to our land, the land of the Bible, in order to assist in the resurrection of its ruins, build its towns and make the land bloom, for us and our sons after us.
The following is the history of the life of Zelig Shachnovitz - author and intellectual. (Paz)
Zelig Shachnovitz studied at a "heder" and at the famous Lithuanian yeshivot. He subsequently complemented his studies at institutions of higher education in Germany. Here he also worked as a teacher and took his first steps in the field of literature.
His adventures, crises and moves from one spiritual sphere to another, as well as the confrontation with his bitter fate in which he had the upperhand, left their mark on his character and perception which is rooted in historical Judaism, and awakened and developed his creative power and poetical gift. In 1908 he was invited to Frankfurt as the editor in chief of "The Israeli", the central organ of conservative Judaism in Germany, replacing the late Dr. Lehman, the man who had founded this weekly in 1860 in Maintz. Indeed, Shachnovitz brought a new spirit to the paper. With his personal attributes, his fair combination of East and West - having been born in Eastern Europe and educated in the west, he knew how to bridge these two worlds. His stories about the life of the Jews in the east managed to bring this world closer to that of the Jews in the west, to whom this had been totally foreign. He created understanding for the suffering of the Jews in eastern Europe under the reign of the Czar, and the translation of his articles in the Jewish press showed the Jews in the east the beauty and cultural lifestyle characterizing the Jews in western Europe. His personal attributes were very helpful, his erudition, intimate knowledge of Jewish literature and history. Not in vain, he was considered one of the most prolific journalists of his time.
However, Shachnovitz became mainly known as an author in the Jewish world because of his series of historical novels. His language is cultural, exquisite, diversified and full of linguistic subtleties. He builds his characters in an artful manner and takes a deeply personal part in their considerations. The specific Jewish psychology and the warm and delicate Jewish feelings leave their mark on his characters and their actions, their conversations, and they abound with intimate, friendly Jewish charm.
However, Shachnovitz does not use his faith as a goal in itself, but as an ultimate, lofty way to educate the young to love Israel and their people's history. That is why Shachnovitz chose historical subjects for his books.
In this respect Shachnovitz fulfills a national-educational task. This trend is not emphasized or felt in his books, and it is only by the way that he describes fascinating adventures in previous generations, in various historical periods, and thus the rich past of our people penetrates and leaves its mark on the young reader's brain. The lives of the great men of Israel, the wise old men, the ancient morals of Israel, the manner of response, the way of thinking and the Jewish feeling, the modesty, humility and true heroism - the mental heroism of the eternal Jew.
Only few religious authors wrote in German, especially authors of religious- historical novels, and after Dr. Lehman and Rabbi Dr. Harman ("Judeos"), Shachnovitz was the only Jewish author, writer of important historical novels, of religious Jewry.
A list of 16 books is proof of his literary work and broad output over a quarter of a century.
It is a pity that to date the two books "In the Jewish Khozarian kingdom" and "Light from the west" have not been translated (into Hebrew). It would be worthwhile to redeem this spiritual- Jewish property and translate it into Hebrew for our youth who lack this material.
In addition to these novels, Shachnovitz wrote many short stories, feuilletons and articles, and they too are outstanding in their genuine Jewish gaiety, optimistic, positive Jewish spirit and love of creation. There are the stories about his various journeys to the east or west, to spas in the mountains and near the sea. A light and subtle humor runs through his tales. When he looks at the wonders of nature he experiences a profoundly religious feeling, which is expressed in his writing. His work is deeply Jewish, full of the love of Israel, simple, natural and with profound feeling. When at first, he brought eastern European Judaism closer to the hearts of the Jews of western Europe, and managed to introduce them to the best ideas of the East, he also prepared the ground and the hearts of the religious Jews in the West for the idea of building Eretz Israel, and returning to it in heart and soul. In this too, he succeeded and he convinced many to adopt the idea of Return to Zion. Here we must mention another merit: he was the first to found Hebrew study circles in Frankfurt, and was among the most fervent supporters of spreading the Hebrew language there.
He did much to strengthen religious and cultural life, mainly among the people, each day he taught at the "Makor Haim" hall, and each Sabbath he would lecture about the week's Torah portion. Young and old hurried to listen to his lectures, which were very well presented, and full of personal charm.
He was also a teacher of Talmud at the small yeshiva for working youth and pupils of the "Hirsch" secondary school.
Many appreciated his optimism and belief that the eternal glory of Israel will not fail, his modesty and humbleness, his pleasant nature and love of Israel from east and west. All these good qualities made him very popular and granted him special charm.
He maintained his journalistic and cultural standards in Frankfurt till the end. Until Hitler's henchmen attacked him in the street in 1938, threw him to the ground and beat him till he bled. By a miracle he was saved by the Swiss Ambassador (Shachnovitz was a Swiss citizen) who was summoned by telephone, and on that very day he left for Switzerland under the patronage of the Ambassador. In Zurich Shachnovitz continued his literary work till he died.
A great Jewish Leader and Humanist
After World War II Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein, the Holocaust survivor, arrived in the United States, destitute, hurt and wounded by the nails of the Nazi beast Eastern Europe, where he fought a fierce battle to remain alive, and succeeded; he managed to make a living and secure his existence.
Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein, a Zionist and pioneer since his youth, very much wanted to go on aliyah to Israel, but destiny caused him to deviate from this road and led him to the United States. Here, as a chemical engineer, graduate of the universities in Kovna and Rome and by virtue of his intellect and good business sense, he succeeded and climbed the ladder of the materialistic society. He strengthened his status as a successful industrialist.
However Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein is famous not only for his success in business, but mainly because of his activities in public life. Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein never remained aloof; he always considered himself part of the general community. As a public figure, with a well-defined social outlook, he found himself morally obliged to help the Jewish community. The public circles who knew him appreciated his contribution and humanitarian activities.
Government circles in the U.S. opened their doors to him - Congressmen, Senators and even the President himself. He was well-known, both in government circles, as mentioned above, and among the American people.
However, with all his obligations to the country where he lived, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein never forgot he was Jewish. His Jewishness was part of him; he had deep Jewish nationalist roots and was a Zionist in body and soul. The man who was miles away from the country of his dreams, breathed its air from far away. The concerns of the state of Israel were his concerns, and its joys were his joys. Indeed, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein played an important part in the development of our country, its villages as well as its towns. At Keren Hakayemet, Keren Hayesod and the Israel Bonds they appreciate his contribution. His name is registered in the "golden book" of Keren Hakayemet as one of the most important liberators of land, who contribute to the blossoming of the land and aspire to develop it. With good reason Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein received the "good name crown" on behalf of Keren Hakayemet in the United States, only very few people have received this reward.
As one of the main activists in the Zionist movement Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein was chosen to serve as the representative on the Zionist executive committee, at the Jewish Agency and the Israel Bonds. From time to time he leaves his personal business in the United States and comes to Israel in order to take part in the discussions and decisions of the Zionist Federation and Jewish Agency. His words at the Zionist executive committee make good sense and are practical and constructive. His proposals are appreciated. The echo of his speeches in fluent English and Hebrew carries far away to his listeners at Zionist conferences and meetings.
Shlomo (Sol) Goldstein
As an intellectual Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein found it his duty to strengthen not only the materialistic but also the intellectual layers, such as the educational and cultural institutions of the State of Israel. Halls at the Hebrew University and Technion carry his name, and so do other institutions which he generously supports. When he visits Israel Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein has the opportunity to see the country that is being built and the progress being made in all wakes of life. He always returns home enchanted by what he has seen. Each visit to Israel increases his love for the country and his longing to be there.
Those close to him say that when he returns home he feels guilty about not being part of those living in Israel, building it and moulding its image. . . .
Many people will probably ask who this man - Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein -is, where he comes from and how he came hither from Yurburg in Lithuania, a small town on the German border. There is no doubt that the landscape of the town where he was born with its wonderful Jewish community influenced him and formed the character of the little Jewish boy Shloimele. Yurburg is a town through which three rivers pass, one large river - the Neiman and two smaller ones. This beautiful area, surrounded by forests and parks with its warm Jewish community, a Zionist community with Torah and educational institutions, among them the splendid synagogue, admired by famous artists all over the world.
Sixth Graduating Class of the Gymnasia in Yurburg
The Hebrew Gymnasium named after Dr. Herzl, situated in the Jewish park called "Tel Aviv" was perhaps the greatest wonder of all. . . . Yurburg was a Jewish Diaspora with sparks of light, which the Jews of the little town lit with their meager means, in order to bring some light into the darkness of exile.
The Jewish children in Yurburg spoke Hebrew from an early age and grew up in a Jewish atmosphere without any fear of assimilation. The pioneer movements sprang up in these schools, they taught Zionism and encouraged aliyah to Eretz Jsrael.
Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein was a pupil at these schools. His kind mother, Menuha, took care of him and gave him love, after his father, the late Haim Meir, a soldier in the army of the Russian Czar, fell in World War I against the German soldiers. Indeed, when Shloimele (Saul) was a baby in the crib, merely four months old, he lost his father and never knew him.
In spite of all the worries and problems of daily life the child grew up happily, to the joy of his widowed mother, excelled at school and at whatever he did. He was a sharp-witted kid, diligent, persevering and an outstanding student. The home of Shloimele (Saul)'s mother was not a wealthy home, but it was full of the warmth of a mother who loves with all her heart.
His widowed mother worked very hard to make a living for herself and for her only son, to bring him up and educate him to be a good person and send him to Rabbis to learn Torah and to the local schools to learn science and acquire an education.
As all the other homes in Yurburg, the home of widow Menuha was full of love for Eretz Yisrael, with the "Blue Box" and the hope to emigrate to Zion one day, our holy land. It is said that one day an envoy from Eretz Yisrael arrived at the home of widow Menuha. After addressing the Jews in synagogue and speaking about the pioneers' work in developing Eretz Yisrael, he visited homes to raise funds for Keren Hayesod, the fund that was building Israel. Menuha, the poor widow, did not have any money at home, but she did not send the envoy away empty-handed. She went to the cupboard, removed some silver objects and said: "here, take these as a donation for the building of the holy land . . . ."
Another time, when an envoy from Eretz Yisrael came, and she had nothing to donate, as she wanted to, she told the envoy with tears in her eyes - "here, take my only son, he is barely nine years old - take him and he will be a pioneer in Eretz Yisrael . . . " that is how Menuha, the Jewish mother, brought up her son to love the country that was being built, after two thousand years of exile.
When Shloimele (Saul) arrived at the Hebrew Gymnasium he drew the attention of the teachers and educators. By the way, in the 1930s Eliezer Leipziger, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein's relative, an academic, was the principal of the Hebrew Gymnasium called Herzl in Yurburg.
With his graduation from the gymnasium the chapter of Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein's life in Yurburg comes to an end. He left the town of his birth and was accepted at the Lithuanian state university in Kovna, studied chemistry and prepared himself for a future linked to Eretz Yisrael. In the lively and Zionist town of Kovna the young student Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein was a leader in the "Hehalutz Hatzair" youth movement, and later on he was the secretary of the "Hehalutz" center, aiming to go on aliyah to Eretz Jsrael. In those days he also helped the illegal immigration organization (aliyah beth) and prepared himself to go on aliyah as soon as possible. He showed leadership potential in these Zionist activities and was admired for his achievements.
A man may have many intentions, but reality sometimes plays a different game. That is how one day all Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein's plans changed. All of a sudden World War II broke out, the German Nazis invaded Kovna and its Jews were put into the ghetto under a strict and cruel regime. Like all the other Jews, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein fought for his life and tried to survive. He showed initiative in the ghetto, even under the strict conditions of the regime, organized underground activities to save Jews, as much as this was possible. The main purpose at the time was to get the youngsters out of the ghetto to places of hiding. Some organized youth to join the partisans in the woods. The aim was to save Jews as quickly as possible, for the mechanism of destruction was working ruthlessly. Almost every day large groups of Jews were sent to Fort 9 from where there was no return . . . and thus the murderers went on until the very last days of the war (1945) . When Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein understood that all hope of rescue was gone, he too left the ghetto. In a daring action he escaped with his girlfriend Tamara and a group of youngsters and hid in a Lithuanian village, until the Red Army entered Lithuania and the Germans fled.
When Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein returned to Kovna he found it empty of Jews and only graves all around. . . of a town that had almost a quarter of a million Jews in Lithuania, only about four thousand remained after the Holocaust, dejected and shocked by the terrible tragedy that had befallen Jewish Kovna and Lithuania as a whole. There is no hope left for the Jews in Lithuania Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein told himself - the few remaining Jews concentrated mainly in Vilna should be taken out of there and sent to Eretz Yisrael.
Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein and his friends got ready to act. They organized the "Bericha" (escape) to western Europe in spite of the Soviet authorities' opposition to letting them go. After an eventful journey Shlomo (Saul) and Tamara arrive in Italy and join the refugee camps waiting to go on aliyah. The gates of Israel are closed and those waiting - Holocaust survivors - had to wait in Italy. Wait and wait. They had akreadt been waiting for three years. . . . from time to time refugee ships leave, but they are caught by the soldiers of the British Mandate government and sent back.
In Italy Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein and Tamara's oldest daughter is born. Under the difficult and hard conditions of living the baby falls gravely ill. The local doctors propose they transfer her to the United States to be treated by specialists.
After lengthy deliberations and realizing there is no hope to go to Israel soon, they leave for the United States, contrary to their plans and deepest wishes.
When Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein and Tamara arrived in the United States they first settled in Philadelphia and then in Chicago, Illinois, and from there they moved to Skokie. Here they got along very well with the Jewish community and in general. Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein showed enterprise; he went into business, developed an industrial plant in his professional field as a chemical engineer, and his efforts bore fruit.
Shlomo (Saul) and Tamara Goldstein established an exemplary home in Skokie and took part in the local Jewish community life. Shlomo (Saul) 's talent and dynamic personality helped him achieve impressive results in the industrial-business field. His success did not turn his head. Even at the top of success he never forgot his nationalist obligations. The memory of the Holocaust cast a shadow over him; his conscience drove him to help the Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Chicago and in general.
He was elected to head the Holocaust organization in Skokie and was its patron. After that Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein was elected to head a number of other national Jewish organizations.
Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein' s public activities became known to the highest echelons of the American authorities. Congressmen and Senators consulted him. Even the President of the Unites States invited him to take part in various events. When President Reagan decided to set up a memorial to commemorate the Holocaust, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein was invited to take part in the advisory board at the President' s home.
In addition to his donations to Jewish institutions, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein also donated to gentile humanitarian institutions. Indeed, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein lived in two worlds - in the United States, where he lived and worked, and in the other world, the world of Israel. This reminds us of the song of Rabbi Yehuda Halevy - "My heart is in the east yet I am at the far end of the west. . . ."
Sol Goldstein with the President Reagan and his wife Nancy
That is why Goldstein was attracted to activities in the framework of the Zionist-nationalist movement. The American press published at the time that 1400 guests and VIPs from in and out of town took part in the reception held in Chicago when Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein received the "good name award" for his activities and contribution on behalf of the Keren Kayemet leYisrael.
At the end of the festive occasion the national director of Keren Kayemet in the United States, Mr. Avraham Salomon, announced that a sum of money had been donated during the ceremony for planting a forest of 100,000 trees in the Yehuda Mountains, near Jerusalem, in the name of Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein and his wife Tamara, in recognition of their activities.
In his words of thanks to those who congratulated him, among them Rabbi Dr. Arthur Herzberg, the President of the Jewish Congress in America, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein said that he did not deserve any praise for what he had done, for he merely did what his heart dictated him to do, and that he acted out of recognition that his destiny was linked to the destiny of the State of Israel and that therefore all that was his also belonged to Israel.
His Jewish-traditional education and knowledge of Hebrew, familiarity with Zionist ideas and Hebrew literature granted him an advantage over many others who were his friends in the Zionist Federation's institutions. When he visited Israel, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein felt at home and felt part of the Israeli people.
Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein, the Holocaust survivor, does not speak much about the Holocaust, but sub-consciously the Holocaust is part of his soul. It is hard to separate oneself from the Holocaust. In their daily lives Holocaust survivors try to forget the horrible pictures and live the life of the present, but from time to time the Holocaust comes to mind and re-emerges on the surface. Every little reminder of the Holocaust may turn into a storm in the minds of Holocaust survivors. And that is what happened to Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein in Skokie. On the face of it, a quiet town with thousands of Jews. Among them are Holocaust survivors who live a quiet and prosperous life.
There are industrial plants in Skokie belonging to Jews, beautiful homes, schools, synagogues, charity institutions, and Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein established his home here; he also had the honor, as mentioned above, to be the head of its Holocaust Survivors organization.
One day a warning light went on in Skokie. The rumor spread that an organization of neo-Nazis in Chicago and other places planned to hold a protest march against the Jews in Skokie. Some Jews were terrified when they heard this, but others were inclined to ignore the neo-Nazis and remain quiet. Not so Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein. He was decisive and determined : " No Nazis will march here!" . . . he said and left no room for doubt. In his mind he saw the writing on the wall of the Kovna ghetto: "Jews, remember - revenge!"
One day Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein told an Israeli journalist about the "March in Skokie" affair and its results. "When I heard about the march, I convened a group of Rabbis and public figures and told them we must not sit at home and must not remain quiet. The Nazis did not aim at proving that there was freedom of speech in the U.S.A, rather they wanted to prove to the Jews in Skokie and the whole world that Hitler's job had not yet been done and that too many Jews remained alive - - - Therefore said Goldstein - I turned to court. I knew that the courts would not decide in our favor, as the laws of freedom of speech were legislated in the United States before the Holocaust and the emergence of the Nazis. So then I had the choice to declare that 50,000 inhabitants of Skokie, Chicago and many others in the U.S.A and all the countries of the world would come to demonstrate with us against the neo-Nazis, a demonstration without violence, a peaceful demonstration."
"When Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazi leader saw the preparations of the Jews, he quickly announced that he no longer intended to demonstrate. One day the telephone at my home rang and someone on behalf of Klans told me that the Nazis would not demonstrate in the center of Skokie, but next to my home . . . I answered him that I welcomed their decision to come to Skokie, but that I could not promise they would leave it live. Since then I have never heard from them again."
This sad episode was photographed and appeared in the film "Skokie," with Danny Kaye. In reality the hero of the film, Max Feldman, is Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein. 25 million people saw the film in the U.S.A. and in other countries of the world, Germany among them. The film left a deep impression on all those who saw it. At the end the film indicates "To be continued," i.e. the people of Israel is alive, continues and will continue to exist . . . .
Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein's determined stand against the evil plans of the neo-Nazis became known through the film "Skokie" and incited the public against them. The initiator of the film, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein and his assistants were appreciated and admired.
Shlomo (Saul) and Tamara Goldstein's home was a unique home, totally immersed in a Zionist-nationalist atmosphere; it was a Hebrew home. Jewish and Hebrew songs were heard around the family home, were absorbed by the girls too.
One of his friends from Lithuania tells the story that one day he received an invitation to the daughter's wedding from the Goldstein family. When he opened the invitation and read what was written there he was greatly moved. The invitation was different from any other wedding invitation he had ever received from his friends; half the invitation was written in Hebrew in brilliant letters . . .
Shlomo the father Tamara the mother
Haim-Leib the bridegroom Menuha-Miriam the bride
In addition to the Hebrew date inside the invitation there was another date
In the 33rd year of the State of Israel
Such an invitation, writes the friend, Yacov Rabinowitz from Lithuania, a writer and journalist, shows a warm Jewish heart and respect for traditional values.
Indeed, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein personifies the Lithuanian Jewish "Talmid-Chacham" (scholar) whose roots are in Judaism and tradition as well as in Zionism and its nationalist values. This is the source of the great love for the people of Israel and Eretz Yisrael.
This phenomenon was also expressed in the very traditional wedding the family held for their daughter. The four posts were covered by a light-blue prayer shawl. The popular Jewish music was mixed with Hassidic and Israeli melodies. In short - a Jewish wedding recalling the tradition of our forefathers.
Indeed, all the who's and who's of America as well as many guests from abroad took part in this wedding. Among the wedding guests were Jewish leaders and national leaders - Rabbis, Consuls and Senators, industrialists, bankers and the many family friends.
In his speech to the young couple, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein expressed the wish that they would bring up their children in the traditional manner, continue the existence of our people and instill the love of Eretz Yisrael in them, the land of hope of the Jewish people.
Indeed, the daughter and her bridegroom promised they would observe the Torah and respect their parents, would follow in their footsteps and that generation after generation would spread the word.
All the family friends and the large and varied group of participants who had come to take part in the joy and congratulate the young couple and wish them luck would remember this original and wonderful wedding for a long time.
Tamar (Tamara) -born Teitz - Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein's faithful companion, was born in the little town of Skod, near Memel in Lithuania, and grew up in the traditional Jewish family atmosphere. In this little town Tamara received a Hebrew education at the local school and Zionist youth movement. She was known in town as a charming and gifted girl. When the three children of the family grew up, Tamara among them, they joined "Hehalutz" with the aim of going on aliyah to Eretz Yisrael.
The Nazis put an end to the plans and hopes. The moment the German Nazis conquered Lithuania, the Jews of Skod were brutally murdered. Tamara, who was staying in Kovna in those days, was also put into the ghetto of Salvodka. There she met Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein, her future husband. As his faithful friend, she helped him in his underground activities in the ghetto.
Shlomo (Saul) and Tamara, together with their friends, had the courage to try and save souls as far as this was possible under the difficult conditions. Tamara took part, together with Shlomo, in all the daring actions, such as leaving the ghetto for a Lithuanian village and later on the "Bricha" (escape) to Italy, up to the departure for the United States. Tamara was always at Shlomo (Saul)'s side, encouraged him and supported him.
Until they reached a safe haven in Skokie. In Skokie and Chicago Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein showed initiative in his business ventures and Tamara, an exemplary housewife, took care of their two daughters - Judith and Miriam-Mili. The home of the gracious Tamara was a Zionist home and Eretz Yisrael was the love of her life. She brought up her daughters in this spirit of love of Eretz Yisrael. All her hours of respite were devoted to work for Israel and charity for the poor. Tamara's beautiful and well-kept home was the center of Zionist activity for many years, a kind of "embassy" of the State of Israel. The smart-looking and friendly Tamara gave a warm welcome to every guest from Israel. There was hardly a Zionist leader or representative of the government of Israel who was not a guest in this home and absorbed its Zionist atmosphere.
It is said that when Tamara was ill, between one operation and the next, as long as she was in her senses, she was concerned about the situation in Israel. "What is going on in Israel?" she would ask. Nowadays too, after the death of Tamara, Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein never ceases his extensive public activity for a moment. This was no doubt the wish of Tamara, who loved Israel so much.
In all we have told in the story of Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein, we wanted to speak a little about the activities of the man and his eventful life.
Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein traversed a long road from his home in Yurburg in Lithuania until he arrived in the United States, his present home.
Tamara Goldstein with President of the United States Jimmy Carter
The imprints Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein left on the path of his life show his power to face physical hardship and mental anguish and overcome them. Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein is not an introvert individualist by nature; he loves man and society. His uprightness always drove him to volunteer as often and as much as possible.
This brought him the appreciation and esteem of others. These were probably the characteristics of all the philanthropists in the world.
When we recall the names of the great philanthropists among our people, like Moshe Montefiori and Edmond Rothschild, who wrote golden pages in our history and the history of the rebuilding of Eretz Yisrael for generations to come, with their generosity, we also think of Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein, who with his donations to the nationalist funds and humanitarian funds etc. occupies a place of honor in the row of well-known philanthropists.
According to Goldstein's conception, Israel needs the help of Jews in the world, but the Jews in the world just as much need Israel, for the State of Israel may serve as a refuge for any Jewish community that -God forbid- finds itself in trouble.
The more the Jews in the world do for Israel, the more they do for themselves, ensuring a secure place for their sons and the sons of their sons at times of trouble. That is the motto of Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein, the man of the world, who has a universal and far-reaching vision.
Israel needs great leaders, with political understanding, wisdom and vision, able to contribute with their experience and knowledge of life.
We wish Shlomo (Saul) Goldstein a long and prosperous life, and hope to receive his blessings for many more years, to enjoy his wisdom and warm affection for the State of Israel.
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Updated 11 Sep 2005 by LA