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[Page 52]

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Reb Meier Jakob Bergsztejn z”l

Translated by Aviva Chrust Komaroff & Roslyn Joffe

Reb Meier Jakob was born in 5696 [1875-76] in a town near Wysokie Mazowiecki, Lomza Province. He studied in a heder and then in a Beit Midrash [a house of study]. At the young age of fifteen he married Sura, the daughter of Abraham Elijahu [Kon] who was a tavern keeper in Ostrów Mazowiecki.

Reb Meier Jakob “lived by the Torah and religious service.” Every seven years he completed the study of the entire Shas. He was meticulous about light as well as serious Mitzvot. For twenty-nine years he served as gabai at the Talmud Torah and was also a member of the Khevra Kadisha. He also was involved in the fundraising for Maot Khitin.

He was a Warka Hasid, spending holidays in the Rebbe's court, but at the same time he was an ardent lover of Zion. He loved the Holy Land with all his heart and soul and his whole life he yearned to make aliyah.

He wept bitterly over the destruction of the Temple and anywhere in the prayers that Jerusalem was mentioned his tears would flow. Every night he prayed “Khatzot” [midnight prayers in memory of the destruction of the Temple and for the restoration of Israel].

Finally in 5685 (1925) he reached the fruition of this wish, and he made aliyah. However, he sent Abraham Elijahu Livzor [?] before him in 1921, for him to pave the way for aliyah with his whole family.

The young Livzor [?] spent some time in the land of Israel but because he did not quickly succeed in getting organized he wanted to return to Poland. However, Reb Meier Jakob did not allow him to do such a thing, and he sent his younger brother Naftali Herc to him as another chalutz [pioneer], “to go before the camp.”

He barely earned a living, but he was satisfied with little and considered himself extremely lucky because he was fortunate enough to live in the Holy Land, and he was happy about everything that was done in the land.

He fulfilled the Mitzvot that were connected with the land. He made contributions terumah and tithes according to the law and not in order to become wealthy.

He died at the ripe old age of 79, on the same day as the righteous Rabbi, gaon and tzadik A. Y. haKoen Kook z”l on the 3rd of Elul 5695 [31 August/1 September 1935]

[Page 53]

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Reb Menachem and wife Matel Drozdowski z”l

By Sh. Artzi (Drozdowski), Ein Harod

Translated by Ros Romem

He came from a family of scholars, his father was an important and beloved citizen in the community of Ostrowa. He born in 5634 [1874]. His father, the righteous Rabbi Jakob Mordchai was born in Jedwabne. He was a treasure, a pillar of Torah and piety and an admirer of the Wolozyn Yeshiva. Even as a youth, the spiritual resemblance between Reb Menachem and his great father was noticeable.

When he studied at the Wolozyn Yeshiva under the greatest gaonim, Rabbi Naftali Zwi Judah Berlin, known as the Netsiv, his Hebrew acronym and Rabbi Chaim of Brisk z”l and at the Radun [Yid. Radin] Yeshiva under the Chofetz Chaim[1] z”l, he was a lovely child. They liked him for his great diligence in Torah studies and his exemplary behaviour.

Even after he married Matil, the daughter of Reb Fiszel of Plonsk z”l and became a part of the world of commerce and industry as head manager of the “Tejtel Brothers” brewery, he did not stray from the shelter of the Torah. His efforts on behalf of the yeshivas and Torah education were known in yeshiva circles and by the pupils of the Lomza Yeshiva and Beit Josef. He was a symbol of righteousness and honesty in every way.

His love of Zion knew no bounds. One day, to everyone's amazement, he liquidated everything and settled in Tel-Aviv, Israel in the Nordiya huts neighbourhood.

Here he dealt with Torah and religious service, day and night, even during the last days of his life. Despite being tormented by terrible pain, which he lovingly accepted, he did not cease his studies even while in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

Although he was a quiet man, he had an intimate circle of friends who recognized his greatness in Torah, approached him to give lectures about Rambam's work at the community synagogue in Nordiya.

His son-in-law, Rabbi Aszer Rosenbaum, shlit”a is the rabbi of the Nordiya neighborhood and the community Synagogue at 63 Bograshov, Tel-Aviv.

 

A Few Memories from Father's House

From my childhood I remember the home we lived in on ulica Komorowo in the house of Mosze Zelig who was known as Mosze Cukiermacher [Candy Maker] because he owned a candy factory. In 1905 the Bund workers destroyed it. All our property was lost. A shop remained that my mother acquired with the help of the saleswoman Rachel, the rope maker's daughter. Father was successful in getting work as the accountant at the Tejtel brothers' Brewery. They were our relatives.

This was father's daily routine. He got up at six thirty in the morning, went to pray at the old beit hamidrash [Yid. Besmedresh] next to our house. After eating breakfast with most of the family members, he would go to the brewery. At about two o'clock in the afternoon he came home for the midday meal. He would have a little rest, read the newspaper, peruse a book, test and assist us children with religious and secular studies as he was skilled in Russian, Polish, German and Modern Hebrew. After Mincha-Ma'ariv he would return to work and come home again around eight or nine o'clock at night.

At the midday and evening meals the family sat around the table carrying on discussions. There were always yeshiva students at the table for meals and all together we said the Grace after Meals. There was never a meal without some words about Ein Jakob directly from father and questions and answers to his sons and the yeshiva students.

Shabbat we prayed at the yeshiva with the scholars and Mitnagdim of the city. After the midday meal father went to the yeshiva to test the young men who were students and rabbinical authorities. Several of father's friends would come to our house regularly for the Sude Shlosha at the end of Shabbat; Reb Nachum Lewartowicz, Ajze Lewartowicz, Arke the Mashgiakh, and others. There were also magidim, emissaries [usually fund-raisers from Israel] and Shabbat guests [visitors in town with no place to eat their Shabbat meals]. It was like a circle of students discussing Torah.

I learned from father, who had studied at Wolozyn, that the Chafetz Chaim called him the Genius of Ostrowa, and that the Chofetz Chaim was the rabbi of the poet H. N. Bialik[2] z”l, and a colleague of Rabbi Kook[3] z”l and Rabbi Meier Berlin[4] z”l.

The Chofetz Chaim, who was his rabbi and friend, gave him a book he wrote, “Mahane Yisrael” [Camp of Israel] as a gift and this was a clear sign to father that he would serve in the army. And indeed it happened. He served four years in the army although Grandfather Jakob Mordchai Drozdowski was rich and spent eight thousand Rubles trying to get a release for his son. However, he was not successful.

I remember the army arriving in our town during the First World War. Once, during morning prayers, some soldiers entered the old Beit Hamidrash[Yid. Besmedresh] and created a disturbance. Father, who was praying at the eastern wall, managed to remove his prayer shawl and phylacteries, ran up to and assaulted the soldiers. He beat them and threw them out. He was later thanked by the commandant (his bravery left an amazing impression).

When the Russians retreated from our town father bargained with the commandant so that there would not be a pogrom. Of course this cost many thousands of rubles.

In 1920 the Bolsheviks arrived in town and they put father in prison because he was a manager and therefore considered anti-Bolshevik. The factory went on strike and the workers announced that without father they would not return to work and only then was he released.

Father, as a member of the community dealt with public matters. People trusted him and asked him to be the arbitrator in regard to various matters.

The fund of Rabbi Meier Baal Hanes[5] was entrusted to father z”l and he did the bookkeeping for the fund and of course he never charged for this service.

Mother z”l also worked for charitable organizations, such as Linat HaZedek, Gemilos Hayesod and covert financial aid. Together with the wife of Reb Falk, the shokhet vbodek, collected money for public needs.

Father was a Zionist, heart and soul. It was always his ambition to make aliyah to the land of Israel and he thought about carrying this out. Before the First World War he thought of sending me to Herzliya High School [in Israel], but this did not work out. In 1921 he paid fifty Lira Sterling for a visa to travel to Israel and sent extra money for family members. In the end, we waited and waited for a certificate for the parents. The people who owned the factory claimed they could not wait any longer for father to get his certificate.

In 1933 we again received a certificate. The year passed. A telegram was received from my uncle and he regretfully requested that we postpone our journey, but we did not agree to this and stated that we would not be able to obtain another certificate. So in 1934 my parents succeeded in coming to Israel.

The parents stayed with us in Ein Harod for about three months. Mother found work in the wool factory and soon learned to weave and spin. She also worked in the kitchen. Father did not feel as comfortable for although he admired our way of life, he wanted to be able to support himself. He bought a hut in Tel-Aviv and moved there and found work as a bookkeeper.

Because of cancer, he was bedridden. While receiving treatment at Hadassah [hospital] on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, the crippling disease did not stop him from working. He died on the 17 of Av 5701 [9/10 Aug 1941] at the age of seventy. In his will he left many of his books and five megilot [parchment scrolls] that had been written by a scribe in our hometown of Ostrowa, to the synagogue and school in Ein Harod.

 

Matil Drozdowski a”h

A long life full of love and adoration was completed on Shabbat of Tu-Bishvat [28 Jan 1956] when Matil Artzi closed her eyes in a painless death.

She was born in Plonsk in 5633 [1873]. Her father was the well-known businessman Reb Fiszel Mosinski – these branches of the family were well known: Kwaszny, Bodko, Taub, Camach, Helf and others. Her father was a rich man and well-known in Plonsk and vicinity. His sons were educated in the spirit of tradition and enlightenment. On Shabbat he spoke only Hebrew. Mother excelled at her studies. To her last days she recited poems in Polish and Russian. (Her sister Sarah was the pride of Plonsk for her fluent Hebrew). Our house in Ostrowa was always full of community workers. Father managed a brewery, was occupied with town affairs, a member of the Kehilla, and examined and appointed local rabbis. Speakers, emissaries and representative of institutions and Jewish learning were always in our home. And mother received everyone with love, despite the fact that she ran a store and was busy will all sorts of charitable groups. In 5693 [1922-23] the parents made aliyah to Israel. They settled in Tel-Aviv where father was a bookkeeper and gave lessons on Rambam to a group of scholars. Mother kept house with the great wisdom of a faithful, pious woman. Their home was a centre for people who came from both Ostrów and Plonsk.

In 5704 [1943-44], two years after father's death, mother moved to Ein Harod and quickly became accustomed to our way of life. She worked with the wool and helped in the kitchen almost to her last days. Two years ago we celebrated her eightieth birthday and she was still a beautiful woman, stood tall and was full of humour.

She left all her money to various charities and to Keren Kayemet.

Mother had all her children in Israel, three sons in Ein Harod, two daughters in Tel-Aviv, fourteen grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Her son-in-law, Rabbi Aszer Rosenbaum eulogized her at Ein Harod and many of the members and elderly shed a faithful tear.

May her soul be bound up in the bond of everlasting life.

[Page 56]

The History of Ein Harod

By Sz. Arcy (Drozdowski), Ein Harod

Translated by Ros Romem

 

A.

On my journey to Israel I was delayed in Vienna for a month. That was in 1921 after the incidents in Israel, and at that time entry was prohibited[6].

In Vienna I met halutzim [pioneers] from Bobruisk, who told me that their comrades in Israel had gone to settle in Ein Harod and on arrival would join them. The name Ein Harod was well known to me from the Bible and I found it charming, although I had no idea about the nature of the settlement and what was special about it. On my arrival in Israel I met my relative, Dawid Simkhoni and I also met with Szlomo Lewi, the founder of Ein Harod who was from Plonsk, my hometown on my mother's side. I received my Hebrew education in Plonsk at the Heder Metukin [Modern School]. They told me it was impossible to be admitted to the settlement because of a housing shortage and the difficult economic situation.

Three years passed and by then I was working at the Kinneret as a labourer for Kevashne. One day I went to Ein Harod to see it and get to know it. The following day I had an attack of fever and malaria. Once again I was out of luck and forced to abandon my thoughts of Ein Harod and also of the Kinneret, since the fever never left me and it has left me in a weakened state.

In 1929 there was an economic crisis in Israel and a spiritual crisis[7] in Ein Harod. About half of its members left for the settlement Kfar Vitkin in the Hefer Valley.

Then I received an invitation to come to Ein Harod as they considered me an expert in building and mosaics.

At the time I already had a family. My wife worked as head nurse at a hospital, I managed my own small mosaic factory and we had a six-month old son. We accepted the invitation and we felt that my ambition had been achieved. This was an opportunity I should not miss.

Progress at Ein Harod was on the right track. Building had begun in all directions, as well as a lot of planting and the social situation improved. The events that started that year made the move to the new place difficult. The area beside the Gilboa was narrow, without natural protection and far from the fields. Guarding it took a lot of energy. We also had to help smaller settlements. This is the original idea behind Kvutzah [smaller kibbutz], mutual assistance. After difficult contemplation we finally moved to our new place next to Tel Josef, the sister colony of Ein Harod. Since then we have grown and Ein Harod has become a large settlement in Israel. The trend, as envisioned by the planners, was to keep growing more and more.

For many years we knew unification and dispersion, growth and stagnation. Fate did not spoil us, for the conditions were harsh. We do not have the advantages of the Jordan Valley and its climate, which ripens fruit, or that of the coastal area and its dew. Also the soil is not very good. Yet the main evil was the spiritual state which degenerated along with the rest of the world and the deterioration of moral values.

The split that occurred in the Kibbutz movement affected the settlement negatively. Several years passed during which we were divided and arguing among ourselves. Ultimately we went our separate ways to different settlements[8]. We hope that the sun will heal the wounds and that the name of Ein Harod will be revitalized and every soul will rejoice in it and the supreme ambition will be fulfilled.

[Page 57]

B.

Here am I steadfast as a rock, which the waters can not shift,
We were like a desert glow, which the night could not drive out,
Brave and sincere and just, they were true to courage from long ago.

We, a minyan of friends from Ostrów Mazowiecka, are here for the fourth decade. We have spent more years here than in the Diaspora. We became accustomed to the settlement and the scenery until we have almost forgotten the landscape of our childhood.

Our diverse creativity, the atmosphere of the Kevutzah group with all its advantages and disadvantages, has left its mark on us. We said that the best way is the independent example. See how we are establishing it with our life style.

The oldest member of our group is Dawid Symchoni (Frejdkies) who arrived with Aliyah Bet [Second Aliyah] [1905-1914]. He is a member of the Brotherhood Group in Petach Tikvah, the first Jewish Hebrew Battalion. With the establishment of Ein Harod in 1921, he became a member. His girlfriend Riwka Zwikolski arrived in 1928. They have a son Dubin.

Symcha Arcy (Drozdowski) made aliyah in1921, after seven years working and studying in the city and country, he joined Ein Harod in 1929. His girlfriend Chaja Rosenbaum joined at the same time. They have five sons and daughters and a four-year-old grandson.

Mosze Drozdowski made aliyah in 1924. He was in the Ein Harod Society in Jerusalem. In 1929 he moved to Ein Harod with his girlfriend Chawa Faskowicz, also a native of Ostrów Mazowiecka. They have four children and four grandchildren.

Nechama Faskowicz made aliyah in 1922 and was in a transitional Kevutzah in Petach Tikvah before coming to Ein Harod in 1927 with her husband Jechudah Edelstein. They have a son and a daughter.

Chawa Wolcer made aliyah in 1927 and was in Be'er Tuwia. She joined Ein Harod in 1936.

Ester Tejtel made aliyah in 1938. She joined her husband Dvir in Ein Harod in 1943. They have two sons.

Jakub Arcy (Drozdowski) immigrated to Israel from Białystok where he studied at the Yeshiva. He entered Ein Harod in 1944.

Currently we are about 40 people. We deeply regret the split that took place in Ein Harod. It was unnecessary as we all came from the same movement, the Zionist Socialists; there were no differences of opinion among us concerning the main principles.

We are pleased that the younger generation is following in our footsteps and that they are beginning to take up the burden. We are blessed that we laid a firm foundation for putting down roots in the soil of our homeland as honest workers and welders, true to the character of Israel.

Ein Harod is open to admit those returning from the countries of hardship. Anyone aspiring to a life of purity and tranquility as we do may come here and be rooted in our life with love and brotherhood.

[Page 58]

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Reb Eliachu Gerszon Symchoni (Frejdkes) z”l

By his son Dawid Simkhoni (Frejdkies)

Translated by Ros Romem

Father was born on the first of Tevet [29/30 December] 1864 in Briansk, Grodno Province (previously Poland). He studied in a heder and when he was older, with a famous scholar in town. He learned Russian, Polish as well as arithmetic. Among his books was a schoolbook in Hebrew on arithmetic and algebra.

When he was a young man he helped his father in a textile store. After his marriage father went into the lumber business, but his business did not do well, so after that he worked as a clerk in a forest, far from his home, in Ostrów Mazowiecka.

Aspiring to be independent, he bought a farm in Komorowo that included a number of houses, an orchard and fields. In addition my parents opened a general store, serving the army and farmers in the area. The store provided the family with a good living.

My parents had eight sons and four daughters. My father and mother always kept a sharp eye on the education of their children.

The study program in heder was not to my father's liking because of his modern approach. A teacher who lived in our home taught us children Hebrew, Bible, Talmud and religion. Another teacher came to teach us languages, arithmetic and geography. The children received a weekly Hebrew newspaper.

Father, full of energy, did not make do with the store alone, but became a building and firewood contractor, supplying the army, for which he bought forests, for cutting. During the winter the logs were transported every day on hundreds of wagons.

Father would receive guests – on weekdays as on Sabbaths and holidays. Travellers and Jewish soldiers who ate ”kosher” would eat at our table.

Father arranged a place for prayer, a meeting place for soldiers, as well as providing a restaurant for them. Father was aware of the problems of the world and of Zionism. The Hebrew newspaper “Hatsfira” was received regularly in our home. He read the books of Smolenskin[9], Mapu[10], Graetz[11] and others and subscribed to “Hatekufa”[Hebrew newspaper published in several countries].

Father was known as a businessman and an astute person and therefore on many occasions he served as an arbitrator in the town and in the region.

Father was a great help to boys growing up on their way to becoming adults. Thus he gave his blessing to my immigration to the Land of Israel in 1913.

During the First World War the family moved to Bobruisk and later to Bialystok. The sons went their separate ways, some to study further and some to communal work. Father changed his business and when he lost his money in the textile trade he became a clerk at the big flourmill in the town of Ciechanów, continuing there to the age of seventy. When he retired in 1935, he emigrated with mother, two daughters and a granddaughter. The two daughters remained in Haifa and my parents came to Ein Harod with their granddaughter.

Father was interested in what was going on and he would visit the various branches of agriculture and the small factories asking about the harvests and comparing them to those in Poland. He was also aware of what was happening in society.

He brought a Torah, Mishnah and other books and on his arrival organized a group of members' parents to study Mishnah. After a few months in Ein Harod, my parents moved to Haifa to live with their daughter.

Despite his old age, father continued instructing a study group in the synagogue, between afternoon and evening prayers and never stopped taking an interest in the events in Israel and throughout the world.

On the evening of the first of Adar 5719 [8 February 1959], on the day he died – he asked that the scholars who studied with him at the synagogue be invited to come to him so as not to keep them from the Torah. He ignored his family's request that he go to bed. Only at seven o' clock he lay down on his bed in his clothes. At about ten o'clock he sat up. When they came to him he said “Leave me in peace ”. With these words he departed from the members of his family and from the world at the age of ninety-four.

May his memory be blessed.

[Page 60]

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Reb Abraham Zalman Cukierman z”l

By A. Margolis

Translated by Aviva Chrust Komaroff & Roslyn Joffe

A native of Sokolów (district of Siedlce), he married the daughter of Reb Icze Lieberman and settled in Ostrowa.

He was endeared to those who knew him because of his pleasant manner and for dealing honestly with his fellow man, and especially for his behavior in matters between man and G_d, because the man was G_d fearing and observant of the Mitzvot. Pious and humble, a mainstay among the Amszynower Hasidim and those who sat at the head of the table of the Admor.

Everyone would deal with Reb Avraham Zalman, in order to show him great esteem, because his heart was open to all who turned to him and he was always ready to help in any way possible, even when it was beyond his powers. With exemplary patience he listened to the words of his fellow man, and tried to understand him, to strengthen his spirit and to encourage him, when the person needed it, and all his words were heard with pleasure and accepted by the listener. He was always happy with his lot even when he was not fortunate.

In 5696 [1935/36] he made aliyah with his wife Mira, may she live, and settled in Hadera and endeared himself to the members of the Moshav of all classes and levels.

His beginnings in Israel were not easy, and he worked hard to earn a living, but did not complain and accepted his fate with love in the knowledge that Israel can only be acquired through suffering.

When his economic situation improved after he opened a haberdashery store in Hadera, he was angry that his son Aharon z”l was influenced by Revisionism and joined the Etzel [Irgun] movement that fought for the liberation of the land from the British. Aharon was arrested and sent to Eritrea and was imprisoned there in a detention camp for several years along with 150 other members of the movement.

Reb Abraham Zalman made many attempts and did succeed in having him released in the summer of 1947, about one year before the release of his other comrades in the same boat.

However, this Aharon went back to his movement and on Chol HaMoed Pesach 5708 [April or May 1948] he was among the Irgun fighters who penetrated Arab Jaffa for the purpose of liberating it and was among those killed.

This tragedy destroyed the health of Reb Avraham Zalman z”l, and he fell ill and did not recover, and on the 21st of Cheshvan 5709 [22/23 November 1948] he died at the age of 72.
May his soul be bound up in the bonds of life.

[Page 61]

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Reb Mordchai Kohn, z”l

By the Editorial Board of Hatzofah

Translated by Ros Romem

Reb Mordchai Kohn, one of the first members of Mizrahi in Poland, a past member of the Kehilla of Ostrów Mazowiecka, died at a fine old age.

He immigrated to Israel in 5637 [1937] – and continued his activities on the central committee of Mizrahi in Israel and was one of its dedicated workers.

Reb Mordchai Kohn was one of the remnants of the older generation. He spoke little, but performed great deeds, first and foremost for charity. He was devoted to Zion and its construction with all his heart and soul. He was a righteous and wise man, making time for Torah, doing good deeds, a person of good character and pleasant ways. He was a wonderful, religious, community worker of the kind found in Poland before the bloodshed.

He was eulogized at the meeting of the National Religious Party.

He died on the 28th of Tishre 5717 [2/3 October 1956].

 

In Israel

by Sz. Hornik

He immigrated to Israel arriving not anonymously like a blank page. He was famous not only among his townsmen and countrymen living in Israel, but due to the extent of his activities as a public person, in the Diaspora was well known to the people at the head of Mizrahi in Israel.

They valued him for his devotion and his courage in his fight for the honour of the party and the extension of its boundaries. It was natural that here he found his way to the central committee of the Mizrahi organization on which he served for about twenty years, as well as being in charge of the office archives.

Here too the affection of his youth was remembered and he was elected a member of the executive committee of the Tel Aviv branch of Mizrahi a number of terms. Here he was distinguished for his energy and wisdom, as a driving force. And he fulfilled these tasks with great importance.
Although he was easy going, he also knew how to stand up staunchly for his convictions, when he was convinced that his opinions were correct – and for this he was respected by large groups of members.

His memory will always be blessed in the hearts of his many friends and acquaintances.

* *

*

By Sinai Kac

Translated by Ros Romem

He succeeded in immigrating to Israel. Here too he did not cease working for Mizrahi as he had done in Ostrowa for many years. He was a clever man, astute and wise. He always tried to bridge the gaps between the branches of the Zionist Party. He was a member of the Kehilla, various institutions and Mizrahi representative to the town council. He was also chairman of the merchants' organization and Linat HaZedek.

He was a man to whom many turned for advice on various matters and he always found a solution.

I am not attempting to give a full and complete picture of his public life and his activities for the benefit of the public.

He returned from Russia in 1922 (after the First World War) and he immediately devoted himself to public affairs in general and Zionism in particular.

He was a founder of Mizrahi in Ostrowa even though he was an Amshynower Hasid and for a number of years he prayed in the Amszynower shtibl. However when he founded the minyan of the Mizrahi Party he left the shtibl and prayed together with his fellow party members. He influenced others to leave the shtibl as well, as he drew them to revitalizing and building of the Land of Israel.

At first he was one of the community activists for the General Zionist Tarbut School and he was a member of its executive committee. Yet when he saw that there were extremely religious or devout parents who were afraid to send their children to this school and moreover from time to time the rabbis boycotted the Tarbut School, he and the members of the executive of the Mizrahi party decided to build another school. With the help of the parents they established a Zionist religious school, called Yavneh, similar to a religious school in Israel. This was a very courageous step, at a time when the Tarbut School was fighting hard for its existence. But a Jew like Rabbi Mordchai Kohn was not deterred by difficulties. Persistent by nature and a man of great energy he knew how to get things done and how to get other people to do things - he was tireless.

He was lucky and he immigrated to Israel in 1936 a few years before the outbreak of the Second World War. He was active in Israel for many years until he became ill in1954. He died in 1957 at the age of seventy-eight. May his memory be blessed.

[Page 63]

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Reb Izrael Zebulon Ben Tovim z”l and his wife Pesia Rywka a”h
(From the Encyclopedia of the Pioneers of the Yishuv Vol. 10, p. 3562)

Dawid Sedhar

Translated by: Aviva Chrust Komaroff & Roslyn Joffe

He was born to Reb Icchok Mejer Braun and Jospa Dwora Jagodnik on the 20th of Sivan 5755 [July 1895] in Komorowo near Ostrów Mazowiecka, Poland.

He studied in heder and yeshivot and was taught hasidus in his father's house. In 1913 he married Pesia Rywka, daughter of Jakob Kandel, who died in Tel-Aviv and was buried in Nakhalat-Yitzkhak, 23rd Adar I 5711 [1 Mar 1951].

He was a businessman and because of his enthusiasm for Hasidism he joined the religious Zionist movement and looked forward to the opportunity of making his Zionism a reality by making aliyah.

In 1921 he made aliyah and settled in a neighbourhood near the seashore on Nechemia Street. He opened a bakery and earned his living by the sweat of his brow. However, his bakery was a sideline for him. His main occupation was the Torah and good deeds. He was active in charitable causes, his heart was open to complaints and problems and he actively encouraged and assisted people. He recorded hasidic Torah commentaies and distributed among his friends and acquaintances so they culd also share in spiritual pleasure. He was overflowing with the sharpness of hasidic life and bestowed it on those who needed it, whether in private conversations or at family simchas. He was especially zealous about making a bride and groom happy; thos who were abandoned or immigrants cut off from their families who were unable to make aliyah. He tried to take the place of their parents and relatives. He was the most active organizer and fund raiser for mitzvah seudot [meals]. Afterwards he would amuse and entertain the assembly with his sweet voice and heartwarming singing.

He was a member of Bnai Zion in Tel-Aviv.

He found the Netzakh Yisrael synagogue on HaYarkon Street (in the Afak neighbourhood in the beginning). He came in front of the Ark on the High Holidays and led the table at the Third Meal on Shabbat and entertained those assembled with singing and lessons in Torah.

His house, which was in the border area of Jaffa served the Haganah staff in the region during the fighting.

After the death of his wife, who was his partner in charity and kindness, he founded an interest-free loan fund in her memory and overlooking his growing heart ailment he diligently continued with his good deeds.

He died in Tel-Aviv and was buried in Nakhalat-Yitzkhak on the 27th of Kislev 5719 (9 December 1958).

His daughters: Yaffa, wife of Yonesh Alek; Tovah, wife of Samuel Tzvi; his grandchildren: Dvora and Yitzkhak; his great-grandson: Reuven.

[Page 64]

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Reb Szlama Szklanowicz z”l

By his daughter Riwka Wiloyni Szklanowicz

Translated by Aviva Chrust Komaroff & Roslyn Joffe

My father Szlama Szklanowicz z”l, was born in Ostrów-Mazowiecka, Poland in 1889.

In his youth, he studied in a Yeshiva, and at the same time he studied foreign languages and secular education on his own. He was active in the community life of our city.

He was quiet and modest man, and accepted and beloved by people. He served as a member of the town council. He was one of the founders of the Yavneh Hebrew School, and he worked hard in the Zionist organizations, such as: Keren Kayemet and Keren HaYesod, etc.

He was an ardent Zionist, and the education that he provided for his children was in the Zionist spirit. For us, his children, he was a father, friend, and educator wrapped into one. Always alert and attentive to everything that happened to us, always ready to extend a hand and assistance in all the troubles and problems that we encountered, his cogent advice and his wise guidance helped us more than once in the course of our lives.

He did everything for the education of the children and spared no pain in acquiring our education, with no consideration of his meager means. Thanks to education, the Zionist spirit that prevailed in our home and knowledge of the Hebrew language, I felt when I came to the land of Israel the same homey atmosphere and this helped me to overcome the difficulties that I faced at the beginning of my stay in Israel.

He was taken from us suddenly, and he was only 45 years old, in 5694 (1934).

May his memory be for a blessing.

[Page 65]

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Reb Mendel Wszawer z”l

By Synai Kac

Translated by Aviva Chrust Komaroff & Roslyn Joffe

Already as a youth he grasped the Zionist idea without regard for the fact that the majority were “captives” of the Hasidic houses that opposed all new ideas in the Jewish street.

He was one of the first people in the city who accepted the Zionist doctrine and actively began organizing and disseminating the Zionist movement. He was known to be sickly and every effort was difficult for him. He was by profession an accountant, but did not prosper because he always worked for small enterprises whose owners were Hasidim and Mitnagdim. As they were keen opponents of the Zionist movement, he suffered professionally for his Zionist zeal. He would not have retained his position had it not been for his “close helper,” his wife Sorka, may she live, who was an educated woman and knew a number of European languages as well as Hebrew, was a teacher, and helped him in providing for the house.

In 1914 Reb Mendel was exiled to Russia together with other important Zionists of our city and there experienced very difficult times in all respects.

Indeed, upon his return to Ostrowa after World War One, Mr. Wszawer renewed his Zionist labors and was happy to find young, enthusiastic people to stand by his side in this area and who helped him to expand the Zionist activities.

Mr. Wszawer discovered a vast new field for his activities, and he was among the founding leaders of the Tarbut School for Hebrew and nationalist education in the city.

He devoted all his time and energy to this activity until 1932, when he left Poland and moved his family to Montevideo, Uruguay to join his son. There also he began his pro-Zionist work, but he succeeded in working just a short time because the malignant illness that afflicted him back in Poland overcame him.

May his memory be for a blessing.

[Page 66]

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Reb Jukiel Tejtel z”l

By Tuwia Makower

Translated by Isaac Peled (Podbielewicz)

Reb Jukiel was the son of Abraham Tejtel, from the respected and large Tejtel family, active in various local institutions.

One of the founders of Hovevei Zion, he was totally dedicated to the Zionist movement and not discouraged by personal or general difficulties which he met head on even though they caused him a lot of suffering.

He was one of the organizers and founders of the Firemen's Association in Ostrowa and for a while Deputy Chief. Due to anti-Semitism among Polish friends and being a proud Jew he had to leave the Association.

The local anti-Semites, headed by the pharmacist Mieczkowski, persecuted him at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. They denounced him to the Russian authorities and he was exiled to Russia with other activists (Dr. Rubin Klaczke, Jakob Szwarc, Menachem Kohn, Mendel Wszawer, Mordchai Langlejb, Eliezer Knysiński and the brothers Isak and Juda Drozdowski).

At the end of the war in 1918 he came back to Ostrowa and headed Linat HaZedek, Bikur Holim and other institutions that he organized to a very high level as an example to other cities.

He was an outstanding activist, faithful and devoted to the good of the community.

May his soul be bound up in the bonds of life.

[Page 67]

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Reb Jozef Zwikielski z”l

Translated by Aviva Chrust Komaroff & Roslyn Joffe

He was born in May 1899 in Ostrów-Mazowiecka to Chaim Jakob Zwikielski and Sara Golda Tejtel z”l.

He was brought up in his grandfather Reb Zew-Wolf Tejtel's home, and in addition to the school he attended, he was anxious to learn Talmud and Hebrew as well from private tutors.

With the outbreak of World War One in 1914, he moved together with his family to Bobruisk in Belorus, and remained there for the six years of the war and revolution in Russia. He expanded his high school education there in the private gimnazia of Cwyrko.

In 1919, he returned to Poland and continued his studies in Warszawa until 1921, when he made aliyah as a chalutz.

He worked as a laborer, first at Rishon-L'Tzion and later in Tel-Aviv, where he learned the electrical trade, and he was a member of the “Nohar” cooperative in Tel-Aviv.

When he was in Jerusalem, he found his livelihood with the “Dead Sea” company in S'dom.

In 1946 he moved to Tivon where he set up his house and where he lived with his wife and two children. He was an active member of the Haganah.

At the outbreak of the War of Independence in 1949 [sic – presumably 1948], his older son Uri, who was 17, volunteered for the Israel Defense Forces and was killed in May 1984 [sic – presumably 1948] in a battle near Beit Keshet.

This tragedy had a great negative effect on the bereaved father, and his health declined. On the 7th of Tishrei 5712 [6/7 October 1951] he died at the age of 52. He was buried in Ein Harod.

May his soul be bound up in the bonds of life.

[Page 68]

Reb Fiszel Rozental Hy'd

By Synai Kac

Translated by Ros Romem

He was born in the Ostrów region during the First World War. In 1915 he moved to Ostrów Mazowiecka. When his son reached school age there was no Hebrew school in town so he volunteered to found a Tarbut School. Fiszel Rozental z”l was gifted with great energy, with unlimited persistence and no obstacle was too great to overcome. He was not deterred from establishing a modern, Hebrew institution in town, despite the financial, technical and social difficulties involved. He took on the burden, executing his plan and founding the school that later became an institution of glory and the pillar of the town's social life. The first question to be dealt with was a location. In the whole town there was no suitable building available for a school. He worked hard and found a vacant house on the edge of town belonging to the Tejtel family. The family agreed to rent out the house as a school even though they themselves needed it. After repairs and improvements, the building was ready for the long awaited purpose of housing the school.

The second problem was a lack local of teachers, so it was necessary to request teachers from out of town through Tarbut headquarters in Warszawa and to take care of lodgings and salaries until the first school fees were collected.

During those days he was constantly seen rushing about, whether to find a room or an apartment for a teacher, or a loan from a bank or private person and when necessary to find someone willing to sign as a guarantor for a promissory note.

And more than once Reb Fiszel invested his own savings thereby risking the living of his own household. The work and the bother never ceased during the entire existence of the institution. Every month salaries had to be paid to the teachers and the school fees were inadequate to support the school. Relief came only after the Zionists became a power on the town council and a Zionist was even elected deputy mayor. Then the school received a subsidy from the municipality.

Meanwhile, the economic situation of Polish Jewry declined and obviously in our town as well. It was difficult for parents to meet their obligations and pay the school fees on time. The volunteers were obliged to visit the homes of the parents, from time to time, to ask for what was due. They also obtained money privately and promised to repay it without knowing for certain if would be possible to do so. Despite all these difficulties a wonderful Tarbut School was established in our town. Its pupils, once they had grown up, were active in public life in general and specifically in the Zionist movement and its institutions. All this took place thanks to that great man Reb Fiszel Rozental. For many years he kept vigil as chairman of the school committee. He accomplished a very difficult task, despite great opposition from the Hasidim, who were a strong force in town.

Many of the school's former students are in Israel. Very few of them actually know that thanks to Reb Fiszel Rozental they received a Hebrew education in the Diaspora, so when they arrived in Israel they were able to use the knowledge acquired overseas to continue their studies or to settle in Israel.

All this happened thanks to one man, Fiszel Rozental who died in the Shoah, hy”d

 

Footnotes
  1. Chofetz Chaim Reb Israel Meir HaKoen of Raduń (in Yiddish, Radin) was the author of “Hafetz Hayim”, a book devoted to the importance of the laws against slander, bearing tales and gossip. His book had such impact that he became known as the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim never intended to found a yeshiva. His books, personality and piety attracted students to his house and the yeshiva was born right there. Forty-five years later, in 1914, the Radin or Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva moved to its own building, appointing E. Naftali Trop as rosh yeshiva. He published twenty-one books. The most widely studied is “Mishna Berura”, a six-volume commentary on the Shulhan Arukh. This commentary became the Ashkenazi guide to everyday religious practice. Return
  2. Chaim Nachman Bialik (1873-1934), the greatest modern Hebrew Poet, who was often characterized as a “national poet”. Return
  3. Rabbi Abraham Isak Kook (1865-1935) was a religious Zionist and the first chief rabbi of Israel (then Palestine). Return
  4. Rabbi Meier Bar-Ilan (Berlin) was born in 1880 and died in 1949. He was the commanding figure of religious Zionism for the last three decades of his life. He settled in the United States in 1914 and rose quickly to the national leadership of Mizrahi in America. He emigrated to Israel in 1926 when he became the international head of Mizrahi. After the state of Israel was declared he Hebraized his surname to Bar-Ilan. Return
  5. Rabbi Meier Baal Hanes set up a charitable fund to help observant Jews who were studying Torah in Israel (then Palestine). The fund still exists today. Return
  6. Throughout 1921, Arab restiveness grew. In May 1921 there were riots and British troops were called to suppress attacks against Petach Tikvah and other farm colonies. Herbert Samuel, British High Commissioner, decided to concede to Arab demands and temporarily stopped Jewish immigration. The ban was shortly lifted in July 1921, but immigration was to be more strictly controlled, including a guarantee of employment. Return
  7. It was the issue of Ein Harod's future that broke up G'dud HaAvodah [Labour Battalion]. Many wanted to stay on and develop the Kvutzah into a model of collective farming. Others felt that Ein Harod was merely a stepping stone to the larger goal of a “nationwide commune”. This was beyond the wildest dreams of the earlier Labour Zionist pioneers. It brought about a split among the workers. The G'dud HaAvodah broke up in 1929 with much acrimony. The G'dud HaAvodah pioneers who stayed on at Ein Harod had a lot to do with the emerging of collective settlement. With this farm and its sister colony Tel Josef , they demonstrated the advantages of the large-scale collective, a kibbutz, over the small kvutzah. In 1921 the two villages had three hundred members, a new precedent for communal farming. By 1927 Ein Harod had grown to five hundred members. That year they organized a federation, HaKibbutz HaMe'uhad [The United Kibbutz] that favoured large-scale immigrant absorption. This example became more the norm. Several dozen members of G'dad HaAvodah were so disillusioned that they returned to the Soviet Union. All of them were liquidated in Stalin's purges of the 1930s. Those who remained became the political aristocracy. As late as 1954 almost half the leading politicians of Mapai, a third of all senior government officials and Histadrut [The Jewish Agency labour federation] could say that they had been pioneer members of G'dud HaAvodah in the 1920s. Return
  8. In 1944 and 1951 there were splits in Mapai which created terrible splits in the Kibbutz HaMe'uhad organization. Suddenly there were separate kindergartens and dining halls for members of the rival factions. When these “separations” did not help, old established kibbutzim such as Ein Harod were divided and separate settlements were set up. Within a decade or two the reasons for the split seemed insignificant or had been entirely forgotten, but it was too late to re-unify the settlements. Return
  9. Perec Smolenskin (1842-1885) A White Russian Jew, founder-editor of the Hebrew monthly HaShachar [The Dawn]. His six novels and innumerable essays laid the foundations for Hebrew language literature. He was one of first of the major Hebrew writers to warn about the dangers of Haskalah. He came to see national revival as the solution to the Jewish problem in Europe. Return
  10. Abraham Mapu (1808-1867) born in Slobodka was the creator of the modern Hebrew novel, believer in the “enlightenment”. He was considered a brilliant Talmud student. His first novel “Ahavat Zion” (Love of Zion) and his other novels were important in the rise of the Jewish national movement which eventually found political expression in Zionism. Return
  11. Henrich Graetz (1817-1891), was a German-Jewish scholar who wrote the most famous and influential modern history of the Jews. Return

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