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[Pages 51-52]

“The Children of Israel” - “Bnei Yisrael” (cont.)

We knew that were facing difficult conditions – the task of a pioneer who would go ahead of the camp, forging the path for the many that would follow.

This was a task that demanded physical strength and strength of spirit, an iron will and strong abilities. We took upon ourselves many activities for the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael in all of its forms, except for the one of practical value – the financial area. We regarded this work as one of the most important means of explaining our path to all strata of the people. The distribution and emptying of blue boxes, the sending of greetings for festivals and joyous occasions, registration for the Golden Book, the planting of trees, the bands for memorial days and brochures for the Sabbath – these and the like were the vehicles for this holy task.

During that time, I filled the task of secretary for the Keren Kayemet in Orheyev. I remember those Fridays, about two hours before candle lighting, when the young group of Bnei Yisrael, children of the ages of 9-11, pure and pleasant, would be enlisted for work for the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael. They would receive the boxes and brochures for the Sabbath with great devotion and boundless dedication. Filled with enthusiasm, they would visit all the houses and distribute the letter that explained the activities of the Keren Kayemet in Hebrew and Yiddish. I felt that at that time, this was the most effective means for instilling the Zionist idea in every Jewish home.


One of the announcements of a concert of the Bnei Yisrael choir under the direction of P. Ziserov during the days of Chanuka 5684, December 1924.

28 Kislev 5685

In the Shoemaker's Synagogue of Orheyev
A Chanuka Celebration with the choir of
BNEI YISRAEL
Under the direction of the director
Pinchas Ziserov

First Section

A) Hanoten Teshua Lamelachim
(Performed by the entire choir with the participation of Aberkanter)

B) Lighting of Chanuka Candles
(performed by the entire choir with the participation of Aberkanter)

Hanerot Halalu (performed by the choir)

C) Vaani Tefilati (choir)

D) Birfoach Resahim (choir)

Second Section

A) Amnan Ken (choir)

B) Mizmor Ledavid (choir)

C) Betzeit Yisrael march (choir)

Direction.

Printed by Gelbruch Malkevitz - Orheyev.p


Aside from our work in the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael, we also worked in the realm of Hebrew cultural activities. At that time, we were engaged in a fierce battle with the Culture League and the Yiddishists. That war was about the abandonment of the soul of the youth, and we prevailed. We had the upper hand! We took the civic library into our hands, thanks to the great dedication of several members who worked to develop the library. This library quickly turned into a cultural institution and a gathering place for the youth and the Jewish population in general.

Photograph of  Aliyah of friends to Israel

Photograph of Aliyah of friends to Israel

 

Aside from the library, we worked for the development of other cultural branches: a drama group of the Bnei Yisrael organization directed by Arkadi Loshakov. The leadership of the circle was given over to comrade Yechiel Duchovny. We immediately began to search for an appropriate repertoire. After many debates, the group of wise people decided to begin preparations for the play “Going and Coming” by Sholem Asch. The plan failed, however. On the other hand, we were very successful in establishing the Bnei Yisrael choir (see the photograph of the Bnei Yisrael choir on page 52) under the faithful directorship of the late Pinchas Ziserov. We took him in from circles that were strange to us, but he dedicated himself to the idea with all his soul. He invested much toil and energy into the choir, and raised it to a high standard. The members of the choir were boys and girls from all strata of the community of Orheyev. Through meetings and choir rehearsals, the group became united into one will for the actualization of its goal – instilling of Hebrew song from the Land of Israel to the wider circles of the Jewish community of Orheyev, and raising it to a significant artistic level. We had fine and serious forces in the choir. From among the girls, there was Chava Dyukman and Chana Katz, who are with us here, Rivka Katz of blessed memory, Brona Bronson, Fleshler, Bozinyan, and others. From among the boys there were Moshe Fisher (today in the Land), Mozlin of blessed memory, N. Suslensky, and others. We also had one gentile with us, the assistant of the priest. He helped us greatly and participated in all of the concerts and appearances of the choir.

Choir of 'Bnei Israel'  under the direction of P. Ziserov

Choir of “Bnei Israel” under the direction of P. Ziserov

Seated below from right to left: 1. Fleshler 2. … 3. C. Fleshler 4. Katzap 5. Vaksman 6. Bozinyan
In the middle: 1. Vaksman 2. D. Kleiner 3. Shor 4. P. Ziserov 5. N. Suslensky 6. L. Veitzman 7. C. Dyukman
Standing above: 1. … 2. … 3. D. Shrayberman 4. … 5. C. Katz 6. Mordkovitz 7. D. Zimerman 8. R. Katz

 

I cannot move on from that era without telling about an unforgettable episode in the annals of the choir. This took place on the birthday of Pinchas Ziserov of blessed memory. We presented him with a parchment scroll with the writing of a scribe, written by Matityahu Gleybman of blessed memory. Its inscription was as follows: The perpetuation of the founder of the choir and its director in the Golden Book of the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael. How happy was the man. His face beamed with joy at this festive occasion. With the assistance of the choir, we succeeded in consolidating the cultural life of the city. We organized parties and celebrations that were always very successful.

Bnei Yisrael as Pioneers and on Hachshara

One of the most splendid chapters of the annals of Bnei Yisrael was the era of pioneering, the time when we children of the householders abandoned our school benches in the universities, exchanged our linen clothes for heavy work clothes, took up the work implements in our hands, and turned into workers – primarily unemployed workers. The main task was to search for work, and this was mainly devoid of success. The reasons for lack of work were many and varied, but one result was hunger. Hunger in the winter, in the freezing, in a poor dwelling. Our straits grew with the knowledge that there were only a number of steps to traverse, only one road to be crossed, numbered steps, and everything would change from top to bottom. For the home of Mother and Father, a warm home of plenty, would receive you with open arms. Nevertheless, our members did not choose this easy route, and they stubbornly and persistently continued on the new path that they had chosen, with all of the consequences and results of this tortuous path – an educational movement – pioneering – aliya to the Land – becoming rooted there.

Today one thing is clear, our toil was not in vain. We established groups of pioneers in Orheyev who made aliya to the Land under the banner of Bnei Yisrael. The vast majority took root in the land of the homeland, in the village and city. Everyone in his own corner continued to work, maintaining his connection to the crucible that forged him, remaining faithful to the educational line that is the Workers' Movement of the Land of Israel.

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