[Page 302 - Hebrew] [Page 303 - Yiddish]
by Asher Woldman/ Rio-de-Janeiro
Translated by Esther Mann Snyder
The initiators were Yasha Delugatsh, Bonaparte, Dr. Tzuker, Mordechai Botshatsher, Isak Zonnenshein, Alter Lerman, Pnina Goldenberg and others whose names I don't remember anymore - they founded the Culture League in Bricheva.
I can't understand, even until today, and I can't explain to myself why I took part as a young man, in this initiative immediately after it was founded. And later, from 1924 until its activities ceased, I was the general secretary and during these years I often had the honor to act as the temporary chairman.
The initial activities included various lecturers who read lectures to the youth on the following topics: Yasha Delugatsh - a general survey of world history, Dr. Tzuker - hygiene in the service of civilization; Bonaparte - political economy; Motl Glazer - history of the Jewish people and literature.
I must add that despite the lectures, which were apolitical, the clear intention of the founders was to establish a leftist organization that would prepare cadres of socialist activists.
After a while, the Bricheva youth began taking an interest in our activities and many became members of the group. Among them were: Moshe Vainstein, Hirsh-Leib Danman, Sheva Apelboim, Sara Barad, Beila Woldman, Feige Bonder, Roza Zimmerman, David Bonder, Yosl Woldman, Zusia Shpielberg, Mirel Woldman, Mordechai Zisman, Bracha Bara and others. If I haven't mentioned some names of members, I apologize, since the four heart attacks I had here in Brazil caused my memory to weaken.
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I will try to list the important results of our activities (obviously, all of them were cultural), what we were able to achieve and in a stubborn struggle we succeeded to create:
The teachers in our institutions were: Yasha Delugatsh, Motl Glazer, Golda Gandelman and Kalojnaya.
[Page 306 - Hebrew] [Page 307 - Yiddish]
by Shimon Parnas/ Rehovot
Translated by Esther Mann Snyder
Bricheva, my town, where I have now returned after 37 years; I try to recall memories of my youth in your small and pleasant streets, although I know that the memory is failing and sometimes misleads. Nevertheless, I see before my eyes the small houses and I feel the warm hearts of the Jewish town in those days, the youth that sought solutions to the problems of the Jewish people, the parents who expended much effort with an iron determination to found the Tarbut school so that their children could learn in a Hebrew school. Can anyone forget the contribution of the teachers to the revival of Hebrew in those days: Fishman, Berman, Gulirgant and others.
I remember that when I was still a child and as any child, I was eager for changes and innovations. Thus I watched quivering and with admiration the first groups of halutzim (pioneers) who came from Ukraine to Bricheva after the first World War and settled not far from my father's house in Reservoir ( in later years this became the home of the chef De-Post). I recall the singing that came from that house every evening, the Star of David made of flowers they had planted near the house - all this attracted us, the school children. Every day after school we went straight to their house. Every word out of their mouths was a whole new world for us; indeed they will soon be privileged to go to Eretz Yisrael, the land of our forefathers, and who knows when our turn will come.
In my opinion, the pioneer group brought to our town the message of Zionist fulfillment; they together with the Hebrew school both kindled the love of Hebrew and Eretz Yisrael.
[Page 308 - Hebrew] [Page 309 - Yiddish]
The first youth movement that was established in Bricheva was Maccabi that emphasized a strong, healthy body. Its members worked at physical labor to prepare themselves for hard work in Eretz Yisrael. I remember how they would gather in the yard of Avraham-Yosef Gutman, wearing blue and white shirts to exercise using various types of sport. Their clubhouse was decorated with blue and white papers chains and large pictures of Herzl and Bialik. After this, the Techiya group was formed for the older youth. They greatly influenced us, the Tarbut children, towards our future.
I remember that while still a child in the Tarbut school my father, Yeshaya, sent me one Shabbat morning to the wood merchant, Shimon Bukarshter, to give him a message. On the way I met the Maccabee team from Britchan who came that Shabbat for the first soccer competition in town. The whole town waited impatiently for this game since Shmaya the town herald loudly announced on Friday (in those days there were no printed announcements), that the next day would be held a cruel war between the Maccabee teams; the population was invited to come and watch.
I walked quietly behind the team, curious to hear what they were saying - and they spoke Hebrew. When they reached the home of Haim-Aharon Eisenshtein, a dog stood outside and next to him, a cat. One team member said to the other: Do you see? In this small town exists the prophet's prophesy, and a wolf will live with a sheep… In the afternoon the whole town was behind the city park in the empty lot, on the road to Laidinitz, to watch the war.
Our youth joined all the youth movements, most of them Zionist, but also leftist. Who doesn't remember the Culture League and its activities and the Shomer Hatzair. These were youth who were searching for a new way of life, youth who studied and worked, whether as helpers in the shops or with craftsmen in order to learn a profession.
The largest organization in town, one that succeeded in attracting hundreds of members, both boys and girls, was the Zionist-pioneering movement of Gordonia.
It was founded as the fourth branch in Bessarabia, that is only three others preceded it. Later, tens of branches were established in other towns. Our branch managed to attract most of the youth in town. Its counselors were the most active, arranging nightly educational activities, hikes into the forest near the small stream on the way to Tirnova or near the Riout on the road to Laidinitz, or in district conferences.
All these activities had a great influence on the youth and they joined the branch. This movement offered training not only for life on a kibbutz but also for various other ways of life in Eretz Yisrael.
I remember that one of the activities that I led was on the subject of life on a moshav [settlement].
[Page 312 - Hebrew] [Page 313 - Yiddish]
I gathered the information from articles that appeared at that time in an American journal and were written by A. Liason. The boys listened intently about cooperative living on a moshav and other places in Eretz Yisrael.
Our movement also founded a group called HaOved where our counselors also led activities. This group organized children of workers and professions to prepare for aliya.
Evidence of the hard work that was invested in our youth, were the members who live today on kibbutzim: Masada, Hulda, Nir-Am, Hanita, etc. continuing the work of the group, as they were educated, and hundreds of members live in places other than the kibbutzim that are located all over Eretz Yisrael.
The members of our movement in Bricheva were willing to aid every nationalist activity: the Keren Kayemet and Keren HaYesod, distributing Hebrew books and even showed their strength on the stage presenting the plays of Shalom Aleichem, Peretz, Shalom Ash and others. Parts dealing with life in Eretz Yisrael were added to every play. In one performance they managed to bring a large picture of Jerusalem and the member Yosef Parnas sang the famous song, On top of Mt. Scopus, Mayal Pisgat Har Hatzofim. The audience was so enthused that the players had to repeat it twice.
Here in front of me in the program from 1931 about the play (in Yiddish) entitled With the flow by Shalom Ash. The group added the song, Anu Olim ve-Sharim (We go up and sing), a picture of the Yemenite Jews in Eretz Yisrael, and another picture - Noded Ani (I wander).
We also got the attention of the adults and showed them how they should educate their children towards the future. Thus, I want to show you an example of two figures.
In Gorky's book The Mother, it tells of a woman who in various ways helped the revolutionaries of that time. I remember a woman like that also in our town, called Mindl Goldentzveig zl. Her husband had died when she was young and she remained with three children. Her older son Moshe began to earn a living for the family even before his bar-mitzva. He also joined, like many others, the youth movement Gordonia and combined the love of his mother
[Page 314 - Hebrew] [Page 315 - Yiddish]
with yearnings for the homeland.
The home of Mindl became an open house to all members of the group, day and night, whether for consultations or preparations for the club. She received the envoys from the workers in Eretz Yisrael, and she put them up in her home with any recompense, for the whole time she was in town.
which included songs and a play in Yiddish by Shalom Ash
[Page 316 - Hebrew] [Page 317 - Yiddish]
Influenced by her, the two daughters of Mindl, Hava and Etti, joined Gordonia and they were only 11-12. At age 17 her son Moshe went to training (hachshara) as was done in those days and thus Mindl had to sell her store (the source of her livelihood) to another since alone without her children she couldn't maintain it. She understood her son's yearnings and didn't interfere in his life choices. He went to training with her permission, which was different from the others at this time, who had to sneak out of their parents' homes. After a year, the mother with her daughters made aliya to Eretz Yisrael; the whole family settled in Rishon LeZion and also here her home was open to all those who came from our town. And how sad it is that Moshe died in his youth. After much indecision he managed to organize a place for settlement, with the help of the settlement institutions, in the renewed Sarona.
Here is another figure: Shmuel-Nahum Cohen zl. He passed away recently in Masada kvutza (similar to kibbutz) having lived to a good old age. He was a man from our small town who was privileged to live happily unlike many others. He lived together with his son Eliyahu on the kvutza until his last day. He was one of the people who symbolized both work and integrity. Every Monday morning he traveled to the surrounding villages and returned home on Thursday evening. All week he went around the villages and earned his livelihood by dyeing fabrics and yarn for the women there. After this hard work he returned home and on that very night and on Friday, Shabbat and Sunday he spent time doing public works - Keren Kayemet, Keren Hayesod, Talmud Torah, the Committee for baking matza for Pesach, collecting donations for the needy, distributing wood to the needy to heat their homes in the winter. He often brought the wood in a wagon by himself at night to the poor so as not to embarrass them.
In every public event with envoys from Eretz Yisrael or the Gordonia Center, he was the central figure and totally devoted. From the stage he called to the youth to get organized and make aliya to Eretz Yisrael. Thus, his eldest son was one of the first who came to Eretz Yisrael. His second son, Eliyahu, made aliya a few years later in 1932 and joined Kvutzat Masada. But Shmuel-Nahum knew that it isn't enough to preach to others and that his sons made aliya, thus he himself and his wife also came to Eretz Yisrael.
At first he lived in Gan Yavneh in the south, and soon became one of the most diligent workers in the orchards of Yachin. More than once I heard the foreman in the company say that he should bring more workers like himself, then the orchards would be worked properly. This occurred when he was in his sixties.
Later, when he moved to live with his son in Masada, he worked in the tool storeroom, and the members related that ever since he worked there it was amazingly neat and organized. There was a reason he received the title of Father of the Kvutza.
[Page 318 - Hebrew] [Page 319 - Yiddish]
by Sheindl Kestelman (Yaffa Butnik)/ Hulda
Translated by Esther Mann Snyder
As if from a distant and precious dream, I try to recall and form memories from the life in our small town, the life of the youth and the branch of the Gordonia movement in the good and pleasant years of our young lives.
Much has been written and told of the Jewish town in the diaspora, about its everyday life, about lights and shadows, about secular activities. It described simply the daily struggle for existence, together with preserving the ember of a full Jewish life, with Jewish and Hebrew education, with public activities according, of course, to the patterns of behavior that the time and place determined.
However, above all the Jewish town was the source of all the yearnings and dreams for change in the Jewish social structure, both personal and national. Youth movements - the central hothouse for all our youthful dreams, for the revolt against the Jewish experience in the diaspora, against the parents and the static adult society, for a search for solutions to the problems of the Jewish people, to take a stand on all the phenomena of our life.
When I recall memories from our youth and experience of the movement from where I gathered the deepest experiences, in the pleasant and fine days of the glorious years. However, more than feelings and participation, I note with respect the Bricheva youth as good people, most of them organized in the movements: Gordonia, HaShomer Hatzair, Betar or in the Culture League as Communists and later in the underground and in groups that were
[Page 320 - Hebrew] [Page 321 - Yiddish]
closed and hidden. There were very few golden youth in our town. The vast majority was organized, tried to study despite the difficult conditions of the schools in our town or in nearby towns. For most, their economic level didn't allow them to continue proper studies thus the movement's branch, the group and the level was the only place where one could acquire knowledge, continue studying, read books and newspapers together, and have a shared social life.
I remember with what awesome respect, innocence and devoutness I went to every activity in the club, in that small place of two or three crowded rooms, with simple appurtenances, with decorations from Keren Kayemet and a map of Eretz Yisrael; a small, narrow room but filled with warmth and revelry of youth, singing and dancing.
It is hard in these days to describe and recreate the youthful ebullience of the youth of our town. They had dreams of returning to Zion, aliya to Eretz Yisrael and the Kvutza, to a life of work and creativity, in nature, working the fields and the garden, to a new social and cultural life being created anew in our Land.
Who doesn't remember the parties and the choir that Shuster zl organized and managed at the club, the trips outside the town and in the surrounding forests, to the famous river Riout, the trips to meetings with other branches, and to the summer camps run by the movement in the forests of Bukovina and Harigat.
Most of the youth in town, both the ones working and the studying, joined our ranks and we had to place them in educational frameworks: Tzofim, awakening and fulfilling, because the daily prayer hagshem (fulfill) was not an empty slogan, but full of content and a directive for life. I still remember how jealous we felt towards the first of our members who went out to Hachshara (training) in Masada which was near Belz or in Rifichan near Shtipansht.
I still relive with trembling the gloomy day when the news came of the drowning of our friend, Munia Kramer zl while in training in Rifichan. I still relive the feeling when we accompanied one of the first of our members to prepare for aliya to his final resting place and the deep disappointment that not all of our friends had made it into the kvutza.
Only the committed strong feeling we had can explain and understand how those young people from all levels of society could come together and create such a special experience in the movement with all that it entailed.
This is not a day of easy and understandable things: to spend 4 - 5 hours every evening in the clubhouse, and on Shabbat and holidays - almost the whole day. The preparations
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for the Jewish holidays, movement special days, the traditional party for the memory of Gordon on 29 Shvat, Herzl on 20 Tammuz, and others. The literary discussions and debates with other groups - all these dealt with most of the points of interest of all the youth.
Every meeting with the Israeli shaliah (envoy) who came to town, whether as part of the movement or with KKL (Keren Kayemet L'Israel) or envoys from the Eretz Yisrael Workers movement, before elections to the Zionist conventions, was an unforgettable experience. We spent days and nights in preparation for these elections, to spread the Zionist shekel and to ensure the victory of our list of candidates in the elections.
And if we meet today many who came from Bricheva and are now settled in Eretz Yisrael, in the cities or villages, in the kibbutz or moshav, then it is due to the special atmosphere in which we grew up and where we dreamed our wonderful dreams.
The town in which we first saw the light of day and that was the cradle of our home and our dear parents, was destroyed and is gone. Only dreams and memories of our youth connect us to that place from where our parents, brothers, sisters and relatives went on their final journey.
Buma Gulirgant, Feige Shtiglik, Fraida Veisberg, Sarah Shpielberg,
Batya Roizenblit, Rivka Blumin, Mottel Zak
In the center: Baruch Parnas, Meir-Hirsh Zalman, Yankel Roizenblit, Moshe Shpielberg
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