As was said earlier, he was tireless in his public work to his last days. Even
when he was lying on his deathbed, in the Jewish hospital in Vilna, he
concerned himself with the orphans, for whom he had been like a father. And
then his illness, caused by the heart problem which struck him during the war,
got the upper hand, and he passed away in Vilna on April 15, 1934.
Dedicated to the memory of the first
pioneersof Rakov my uncle and aunt
Yitzhak Yitzick and Leah Katz, z"l.
Both movements had their songs, which expressed their aspirations and inflamed our hearts. The Zionists used to sing songs of longing for Zion for the Land of our Fathers: "Shemesh Aviv" [Springtime sun] by Maneh, "BeMkom Sham Arazim" [the place of cedars], "Zamd un Shtern" by Frog, and more And the Bundists would enthusiastically sing their own songs, which were imbued with the fighting spirit of the Proletariat, and with the hope for a world of equality and social justice. And I, who had a pleasant voice, liked to sing both the songs of the Zionists and of the Bundists
Both the Zionists and the Bundists held their meetings in houses in the periphery of the town, hidden from the prying eye of the authorities. Since my mother was ardent Zionist, and we were living in Slovda, our home was considered an ideal place for holding the Zionist meeting. The Bundists, on the other hand, would hold their meeting at night in the woods which surrounded the town.
On certain occasions they would hold their meetings in houses in the periphery
of town, hidden from the prying eye of the authorities. One of the side rooms
in the house of my grandfather, Ya'akov Botvinik z"l, would usually serve
this purpose. On Saturday, at dusk, my uncle Berl Botvinik would preach the
message of the Bund to the young people, and would inflame their hearts with
his oratory on the future of justice and equality for all of humanity. I would
peek through the cracks of the closed door, and would listen to his words on
the glorious era which was to come, "in which a doctor, an engineer, a
pharmacist, and a midwife, would all be considered proletarians, and would live
the life of workers like the Proletariat all over the world"
And at the same time, my uncle Katz would pour his words on his Zionist comrades, who were assembled at his home, and would fire their imagination with stories on the future life in the Land of the Fathers, "the land of the Hermon and the Cedars of Lebanon". At times the conversation would turn to the Zionist Congress in Bazel and to Herzl, the 'prophet' of Zionism and its creator. But the atmosphere was not always uplifting. I remember the time, one Saturday, when I came to the house of my uncle Katz, and found him and his friends in a gloomy and downcast mood. It was during the days of the Uganda debate [whether to accept the British proposal to settle Jews in Uganda], and the vote in the Congress [to accept the proposal] came down on them, as on many others, as a severe blow. In a meeting held in those days, which took place in my uncle's home, people expressed a very strong opposition to "Ugandaism".
|Eshke Dvora and Shmuel Shmaryahu Horowitz
(Dina Migdal's Parents)
Between these two poles the home of my uncle Katz, which was permeated with the atmosphere of enthusiasm for Eretz Israel, and the home of my uncle Berl Botvinik, which was imbued with the fighting spirit of the Bund I spent my glorious childhood days, absorbing the glow of the two ideals, which were combined somehow within me and were fused into one, in the shape of the Socialist-Zionist movement of "Po'alei Tzion" [the Workers of Zion].
This was the time of Spring, the time of renewal, in the Jewish street: both
the Bund and the Zionist movement spoke of a new world and a new life for the
Jews; they were both spreading an idealistic vision of a life full of glory.
The one in a new world which would be built on the ruins of the old one;
and the other in a new world to be built in Eretz Israelfor the Jewish
people who would gather there
On Saturdays and Festivals the family would get together at the home of my grandfather z"l. Grandmother would serve her delicacies: the "kugel" and stuffed derma on the Sabbath, the dumplings on Passover, the "Homen Taschen" on Purim, the "latkes" on Hanukah, and on Succoth and on Simchat Torah the "shtrudle". While serving, she had but one request of the two brother-in-laws: "Eat children, and, for Heaven's sake, don't argue too much", because the arguments always came to a bitter end, and spoiled the joy of the Holiday and the pleasure of the family gathering under her roof. The uncles would, of course, promise to be "good boys": No, no they would say no arguments. But without noticing it, they would start a conversation, at first an innocent chat, just two friends talking, and it would soon turn into a stormy river, overflowing its banks. Suddenly, one would hear the loud voices of disagreements between the uncles and their excited arguments, until one of them would leave the table.
One must not forget that the home itself, every Jewish home in the town in those days, had a great influence on the children's longing for Zion and the days of the Messiah; the whole atmosphere in the town was imbued with longing for Zion. And I too, even though I was cast between two camps, became a Zionist with my whole heart and soul. At that time, the first families left Rakov for Eretz Israel, among them my uncle and aunt Yitzick and Leah Katz. Two years later, my sister and I 'ascended' [migrated] to Eretz Israel to be with them. That was in 1910. Upon our arrival, we found Tel Aviv at its beginning; the first eight houses had just been built.
Some 49 years have passed since then. I have raised two generations of children
and grandchildren. My sons took part in the War of Independence, starting with
the days of the Haganah [the pre-state Jewish military organization], the
Jewish Brigade [the Jewish unit of the British army during the Second World
War], to the Sinai War [in 1956]. Allow me to say: More than once did my heart,
the heart of a mother, cry from fear for the lives of the sons who were in the
war. But I should also be allowed to add that at the same time the mother's
heart was bursting with pride, and I was filled with a feeling of bliss,
knowing that my sons were fighting the war of the Jewish people fighting for
its freedom. And today, as I look backward in time, and remember this
so-far-away period, when the extent of the Zionist activities seemed so small,
I know that only thanks to those activities we arrived here to the
independent State of Israel.
Source: Encyclopedia Judaica Return
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