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[Pages 453]

Movements

The Zionist Organization

By B. Kastrinski

Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

Brest was one of the first cities where the Chovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) were popular and the Zionist ideology was discussed in the synagogues. In the newspapers of that era, such as “Hamelitz”, “Hashachar”, “Hamagid”, and “Hatzofeh”, much mention was made about the Zionist activities of the city.

As early as the BILU period (1880s), Briskers were already leaving for the land of Israel. Dr. Moshe Minc who came from Brest, was one of the original BILU group.

In 1880 he went to Israel to join his comrades in the settlement of Mikveh Israel. He later settled in Gedera. His brother, Gershon Minc, also a BILU member, built the community hall in Gedera at his own expense. Later the Brest families Feinstein, Padua, and Pochachevski made aliyah to Israel.

In 1884 the ' Bnei Zion Society' was founded in Brest. It's officials were: Mordechai Padua, Ben Zion Neumark, and Mordechai Sheinerman. A. Mushkat and Mordechai Sheinerman were the Brest delegates to the conferences of Chovevei Zion in Odessa.

The first Zionist Society was formed in Brest in 1897 – the same year as the first Zionist Congress. The Brest delegates to this congress were Leon Horoditche (who died in Tel-Aviv), and Noah Finkelstein (the editor of the “Heint”). They presented a report on what they had seen and heard at the Congress upon their return to Brest – it evoked a great deal of interest and many Briskers joined this movement.

At the Russian Zionist Conference in Minsk in 1902, the Brest delegates were Ben Zion Neumark and Mordechai Sheinerman. At Helsinki 1906, the delegates were Mordechai Sheinerman and Israel Rakov. Mordechai Sheinerman was also a member of 'Bnei Moshe'. Ben Zion Neumark was a commissioner of the Odessa Committee the entire time. In 1909 the first council of the Zionist Organization was elected in Brest: The Chairman was L.Horoditche, members were Ben Zion Neumark, Mordechai Sheinerman, Alter Grosleit, Gedalia Hazan, Nathan Goldring, Kaplanski, L.Y. Winnikoff, Chaim Leib Itzbitzer, Beinish Koloditzki, H. Rosenblum, Dr. y. Shereshevski, Zecharia Rosenthal, and Dr K. Shteinberg. The second chairman was Dr. Y. Shereshevski.

The following were involved in the selling and distribution of the Colonial Bank Bonds (for settlements in Israel) – Shereshevski, Neumark, Sheinerman and Winnikoff. Brest became famous for its achievement in this field. The Zionist activist, Alter Hazan helped spread the Zionist ideology. His son, Yakov Hazan, one of the leaders of Hashomer Hatzair, was born in Brest and is now a member of the Knesset in Israel.

In 1911, L.Y. Winnikoff was elected as chairman of the Zionist Organization in Brest. He held this position almost continuously (with some short breaks) until he migrated to Israel in 1935. During this period the Zionist Organization grew and gained many members and became a genuine mass movement.

The Zionist activity halted during W.W.1, after the expulsion of the inhabitants of Brest. Only after their return to the city in 1918, did the movement become active again. The Brest Zionist Movement became the headquarters for all the district – it organized many branches and served as a model for other communities.

The quarrel between “Al Hamishmar” and “Et Livnot” took place in Brest, and many remember those stormy days. The Zionists were very active in the elections to the Sjem (Polish Parliament).

From 1925-1935 these were the Zionist Council members: L.Y. Winnikoff, Israel Fernig, Zerach Zaretski, Meir Feinstein, Eliezer Goldfarb, Baruch Kastrinski and the engineer Shlomo Kamenetski. After Winnikoff's departure for Israel, four members held the chairmanship: Moshe Lev, Chaim Leib Itzbitzer, Meir Feinstein and Israel Fernig who carried on with the work until the very end.

The General Zionists participated in all the affairs of the community in Brest.

L.Y.Winnikoff was their representative on the city council and he commanded great respect from all the various sections of society. The Kehilla council representatives were L.Y.Winnikoff, Zerach Zaretski and Meir Feinstein, - they did a great deal for Keren Kayemet , Keren Hayesod and Shekel Bonds. They also established the foundations for the youth organizations.

The Pioneer General Zionists (the central Pioneers) were formed in Brest in 1923 and many young people became affiliated with them. One of the founders of this movement in Poland was B. Kastrinski. He was the chairman of the Polessie/ Wolyn until 1934. The Central Pioneers established Hachshara groups which provided agricultural training for young people before making aliyah, one of these farms was at Katelneh, near Brest.

Amongst the activists for the young Pioneers were:Tuvia Gubkin, Yitzchak Tucker (who died in Berlin), the writer Y. Perlov, Elisheva Sandlarsh, Leah Moshinski, R. Neumark, Shlomo Meltzer, Sara Sapirstein, Aharon Mandelbaum, and Rosa Wolyniec.

The members of the “Pioneer Tradesmen” at the Zionist Organization were given preparation for going to Israel in groups with the aim of settling on kibbutzim – amongst the active members of this group were: the engineer Kamenetzki, Avraham Sandlarsh, Dziencol, Shor, Havaniovski and others.

The Central Pioneers had a cultural group the members of which were young people from the schools - the instructor was a teacher from the Tarbut High School – Moshe Gutentag. Many from this cultural group made aliyah to Israel, including Berel Hari, Ltvinski, and Rosenblatt.

“Hashomer Haleumi”

Was a scouting movement that excelled in public Jewish sporting performances in gymnastics and athletics, for instance on Lag Baomer.

Active members were Moshe Felhendler, Yakov Eisenberg, Piasetzki and others.

WIZO (Women's International Zionist Org.)

Participated actively in all Zionist affairs. They organized Keren Kayemet meetings, exhibitions, and fund raising of money from the various institutions. Active members were: Gelle Koniopati, Dr. Perlis, Regina Levinson, Fanya Pomerantz, Sheine Kostakevitch, Elisheva Sandlarsh, and others. The president was Mrs. Golodetz.

Kadimah

A General Zionist youth movement was founded in 1928. Its aim was to bring Zionist propaganda to the assimilated youth through the schools and student groups. This group assisited and supported the Zionist Organization in every activity.

In 1933 their group formed a 'Kibbutz' for Hachshara training outside Brest – the chairman was Shlomo Kamenetzki – a dedicated Zionist who was killed in the Bialystok Ghetto. Active members were: Litvinski, Rosenblatt, Piatkowski, Bulkowstein, Moshe Dziencol, Hazan, Deborah Tennenbaum, Batsheva Lerner, Tzvi Gruzman, Ginsburg, the majority of the members settled in Israel.

The Keren Kayemet

It's first director was Ben Zion Neumark in 1904. The second was Beinish Koloditzki, and after him Y. Shereshevski. Isser Tzemach and Betzalel Feigin were active before W.W.1 After returning from exile in 1919, they again elected B. Koloditzki. After his departure to Israel, Kadish Lubelski and Tzvi Lomarchevski were directors. The officials of Keren Kayemet worked together irrespective of any political differences they represented.

Keren Hayesod

Was formed in 1922 in Brest and occupied a respected position in the Polessie district. L.Y.Winnikoff was the life and soul of all its undertakings. For a short period its chairman was A. Levinson, the deputy mayor, whose speeches stirred the public.

Israel Fernig – for all his days he was a dedicated active official of Keren Hayesod. He would neglect his home and business for the sake of this activity. Others fully involved officials were: Mrs Fanya Winnikoff, Yitzchak Trubovitch, Meir Feinstein, Zev Dov Begin, Chaim Tennewitzki, Sarah Zaretzki, Aron Ludski, David Sussman, Scholem Shwartz, Minkovski, and the lawyer Glovinski. The last four of the above members were sent by the Russians to Siberia.

It is possible that there are more names of loyal and dedicated members of all the parties and organizations –young and old, they worked with all their bodies and souls for the Zionist ideal of building a Jewish State of Israel. They all drank from the sacred well of the Zionist cause.

We saw these comrades and their joys and enthusiasm in their songs and dances in Topolowa 12. Members of the rank and file, they were soldiers for an ideal for which they toiled and fought - the privilege of witnessing the building of the State of Israel.

Let these words be a memorial for their dear souls.

The Zionist Council In Brest 1909

Standing from R. to L. – M. Levine, G. Hazan, N. Goldring, L.Y. Winnikoff,
M.B. Grosleit, Y. Berliner, C. Ballach, M. Kravetski, Z.Rosenthal, L. Horoditche,
B.Z. Neumark, Y. Shereshevski, C.L. Itzbitzer. M. Lederhendler, A. Oper
Seated from R.to L.- M. Zeiger, A. Nusmacher, S. Bloch, S. Mintz, H. Rosenboim,
Kurlender, B. Kolodetzki, C. Levenberg, A. Bloch

 

The Zionist Committee 1934

Seated R.to L. – C.L. Itzbitzer, M. Fierstein, B. Kastrinski,
Z. Zaretzki, L.Y. Winnikoff, A.Goldberg.
Standing R.toL.-Hazan, Shov, Kamenetzki, Dziencol, Litvinski

 

Keren Kayemet Officials 1934
Seated R.to L. – K. Lubelski, B. Hazan, l.Y. Winnikoff, Gutentag, M.Levi
Standing, Unknown, Unknown, Dziencol, Kamenetzki, Fernig, Unknown, Kalman

 

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