He was a native of Mashkovtsy in region of Orheyev. His father was a shochet in the town. He spent the better part of his youth in Orheyev, where he came to study and teach. As a teacher, he proved his pedagogical ability worthy of the name. He was one of the activists in Tzeirei Zion.
He made aliya to the Land in 1923. Here as well, he dedicated himself to the worker's movement.
We read the following in Davar from January 3, 1958.
Yosef Kohan, one of the veterans of the Hamekasher Company, died at the age of 58. His friends from work, the secretary of the workers' committee M. Brem, friends from the council, the acting vice mayor M. Ish-Shalom, as well as friends and relatives participated in the funeral.
As a member of Hechalutz, he worked in the development work, stonecutting of Jerusalem stone, and other tasks. From 1931, he worked in the accounting division of Hamekasher.
He was modest, with clean hands and a pure heart. He was prepared to help his fellow in his profession.
Zila Gondelman finished the ORT sewing school, and immediately went to work with one of the sewing enterprises in the city.
Her father died while she was young, and the responsibility of supporting the orphaned nine person family fell upon Zila. She concerned herself with spiritual satisfaction at the same time. She joined the Poale Zion party and started productive activities.
In 1933, she entered Hachsharah in Fokshany, Romania along with her husband Moshe Levinson. There as well, Zila excelled with her diligence and dedication to work. She endeared herself to everyone.
Immediately thereafter, in July 1934, they made aliya to the land. Zila was happy. However, the pains of assimilation came quickly. The search for work and difficulties of settling in were their lot. However, Zila, with her great energy, bore the yoke and supported and strengthened her husband.
They encountered many obstacles and difficulties. Zila overcame them all during her 20 years of living in the Land. However, she did not have the strength to overcome one of them. She took ill with a serious illness. She succeeded in marrying off her daughter, and her refined soul left her a few days later.
People from near and far extended last honors to her. A fine tree was cut down in the midst of its blossoming.
Eliyahu Ben-Zion and Pesya (wife) Furer
Ben-Zion was born in Akkerman (Bessarabia) in 1880 . He was orphaned from his father at a young age. Nevertheless, he received a traditional education during his childhood, studying Torah and Judaism. He moved with his mother to Beltsy at the age of 12, and they moved to Orheyev about two years later. There he was accepted as an apprentice by Hinzl Polonsky, the owner of a writing materials store and bookbinding workshop. There was also a lending library, primarily for Yiddish books. This was before there was a public library.
Ben-Zion learned about the business of the store through his work in bookbinding. When the lending library was placed under his control, he broadened his knowledge in Yiddish literature. He exhibited talents in all these areas, and with time, he was the de facto manager of the business.
During that time, at the end of the 19th century, it was a brazen act on his part to turn the attention of the readers to the new Yiddish literature. Obtaining such literature was quite expensive, and this was obviously against the interests of the owner of the store who was forced to exchange the old literature with books of Mendele, Shalom Aleichem, Deninzon, Peretz, etc.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the student Steinbach arrived in our city. He made contact with Steinbach and recommended some of his friends to him. He placed a condition that he should teach the friends Bible, literature and Hebrew as well, for Ben-Zion was a Zionist, and he would not have agreed that his friends should receive guidance and education that is foreign to their spirit. For they, like him, were inclined toward the vision of national revival. This group that was composed of tradesmen later established the foundation for the loan and savings fund for tradesmen in our city.
From his youth, Ben-Zion bore in his heart the vision of the revival of the Jewish nation and the Hebrew language in its land. He was one of the enthusiastic followers of the Zionist activist Avraham Borsutsky, and he frequented his house. He participated in all activities of the movement that took place at that time. When his turn came to set up a Jewish home, he married Pesya of the Hentin family of Orheyev, left his place of work with Polonsky and opened up a store for writing implements. On account of his great diligence, his business acumen and the participation of his wife, he succeeded in developing his small store into a first class business in the region of Orheyev.
In 1904, the year of Herzl's death, Ben-Zion had a son, whom he named Herzl after the leader. He gave the rest of his children Hebrew names. He educated them in the national spirit.
However none of this quenched his thirst for independent national life. His desire to build his permanent home for his family in the Land of Israel was great. In the summer of 1912, Ben-Zion took his oldest son Herzl and went to visit the Land in order to see from close up the conditions of settlement, with the aim of making aliya with his family later. He took his eight year old son Herzl with him in order to set him up in the Herzliya Gymnasium in Tel Aviv. It became clear that this was impossible due to the young age of the child. They returned to Orheyev and prepared immediately for the aliya of the entire family. In the interim, WWI broke out, and the Furer family was forced to delay their aliya.
With the Balfour Declaration, Furer renewed his preparations to actualize his vision. Ben-Zion convened a group of those interested in the idea in Kishinev, and lectured them in a very detailed fashion about the various issues of settling in the Land. In the meantime, he concluded his preparations for aliya.
Ben-Zion Furer and his group arrived in Jaffa on Chanukah of 1920. During those days, before the improvement of the conditions of settlement for members of the middle class, the members of the group did not succeed in obtaining land for settlement despite their efforts. The members began to scatter slowly but surely, with everyone seeking out his own means of livelihood. Ben-Zion also decided to grasp at anything that he could. He opened a book and writing implement store. He was the first to open such a store in Tel Aviv. With time, thanks to his diligence and his fine relations, the name Furer became popular among teachers and students, and he earned an honorable livelihood.
Pesya followed her husband's Zionist path with her great intelligence. With her full agreement, Furer decided to make aliya to the Land and to liquidate their business for that purpose. The obstacles in their path to settling in the Land were many. Pesia withstood the disturbances of 1921 and all that was related to them with spiritual calmness, without uttering complaints against the Land. On the contrary, she drew near and encouraged the newcomers to the land. She attempted to ease their difficult suffering during the first days of their absorption. A large number of Orheyev natives were guests in their home. Those in need turned to Pesya for help in every difficult situation. On occasions, a sick person outside of the city who required prolonged medical care would find shelter and rest in family style in their home. At the threshold of happiness in her life, fate turned against her and she died in a work accident in her home.
Many of the natives of our town appreciate her and will remember her in their hearts.
Peretz and Leah Portnoy
Peretz worked diligently in the transporting business. He was the first to acquire a transport truck to serve the Orheyev-Kishinev route. This was a bold and important step in those days, which later brought additional improvements in communications. Their only son made aliya, and later the entire family followed in 1936. Thanks to their diligence and life experience, they reached a very satisfactory economic situation.
In Israel as in the Diaspora, they answered the call of all who required their help.
In the later years, Leah became seriously ill and died. After a short time, her husband Peretz also died.
His love for his fellowman was great, especially to those who were preparing to make aliya to the land. His love for the Land was great and enthusiastic. His greatest desire was to make aliya to the Land and settle there. When his daughter Etia made aliya to the land, he waited eagerly for the day when he and his family would be able to make aliya.
In the meantime, the war broke out with all its fury. He and his family uprooted themselves from their hometown and wandered to Uzbekistan in far-off Russia. When he returned to Chernovitz after the war, he did not find spiritual rest, and he desired to go to the Land. He succeeded, and made aliya with his wife in 1955. He was so enthusiastic about the landscapes of the Land and its flourishing. He wished to return to the work of the land which was his calling throughout his life. However, he died suddenly, and Levi was removed from his family and friends in an untimely fashion.
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