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[Pages 21-23]

My Town - Skalat

written by Hadassah Katz

It is my powerful desire in this article to resurrect alley of my youth and to mourn the cradle of my childhood in my father's home.  From here I derive my great strength.  Home - which will never leave my heart.  Time has the capacity to heal, but never to uproot that which is deep in my soul.  As time passes, the horrors of that time will only deepen and they will guide our attempts at rest.

I would like to describe things which characterized the life of our town.  Skalat was not only a town of Jews.  It had a large Christian population, which limited our activities and made our lives harder. We the Jewish youth, grew up among this mixed and hostile population.

First our adolescence, in the activities of the Zionist youth movements.  We rebelled against the accepted and the routine.  We rebelled against our parents, who did not encourage the Zionist notions.  Our ally was the Hebrew School, which showed the way for the young people who so much wished to go to Eretz Israel.  We learned the Hebrew language and its literature.

In the Zionist youth centers, which our parents forbade us to visit, we wove our secret dreams of Zionist fulfillment.  Our very assembly expressed our rejection of the public school, where we felt exactly who we were and how unwanted were by the Christian community.  That was the beginning of the great tragedy, which we did not sufficiently comprehend.  Among the millions anihilated were the Jews of Skalat.

Another experience which I recall across the expanse of time, a great experience for all the Jews of Skalat - the visit of the Rebbe.  Every year, before the Shavuoth holiday, the Rebbe of Husiatyn would visit our town.  The city rejoiced as this was a ray of light in our overcast, everyday existence.  A deep happiness mingled with our gray struggle for survival.  Every heart yearned for the Rebbe's blessing, his encouragement, his advice.

We felt close to the expression of Hassidic exuberance.  We drew it into our daily activities on behalf of the new ideologies which filled us, the ideals of aliyah and fulfillment.

From here, to the Zionist youth of our city.  Zionist activiity was expressed in the funds - the Keren Kayyemet Fund, the Keren HaYesod Fund - and the idea of Zionist fulfillment in Eretz Israel.  All the Zionist parties - “Betar,” General Zionists,” “Mizrahi,” “Hitahdut” - took part in these activities, each in its own way.  They had a common goal - building Eretz Israel.

In “Hitahdut” - of which the pioneering organization “Gordonia” was a part - I myself was active and I dedicated my best energies to its programs.  Many of the youth of Skalat found in “Gordonia” both interest and content.  Youth came to “Gordonia” from all levels of the community.  We found a “listening ear."  Many of the youth who had endured hardship as children, found the youth programs to be a sort of compensation and a source of joy in creation.

It was clear to us that without deepening our awareness of “the movement," we would not suceed in fulfilling our ideas.  We organized sumer camps and meetings, to which we would escape every xchance we had.  It took much courage to fulfill our program.  The community did not always understand our spirit and our desires.  Jewish youth from petit-bourgeois homes, preparing themselves for a life of agriculture in Eretz Israel - this was a revolution which our parents could never understand.

We organized a preparatory farm in the Skalat area.  And we went firther afield for our training.  We fought and suceeded.  We passed this tradition to our children who guard the freedom of our land even today.

Let these words be a memorial candle to my parents, my brothers, my sisters, and to all the Jews of Skalat who walked the road of torture and sorrow, depressed and downtrodden.

I remember with greatest disgust those who in a rush to save their own lives, sent their dear ones to their deaths and collaborated the Nazi murderers in their evil works.

I will not forget my father's house, my mother's Sabbath candles and her teary face as she poured out her bitter heart in prayer and supplication.

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