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[Page 270]

Parties and Funds

 

“Agudas Yisroel”

By Tuwia Makower, Bnei Brak

Translated by Judie Ostroff Goldstein

During the German occupation of the First World War, two famous orthodox rabbis, Dr. Pinchus Kohn and Dr. Emanuel Karlebach - students of Rabbi, gaon Dr. Szymszon Rafael Hirsz z”l, were assigned to the German Government Administration.

After meeting with orthodox Jews from all areas of Poland, they decided to organize Agudas Yisroel.

The purpose of Agudas Yisroel was to strengthen the supervision of Torah education for youngsters, support Torah institutions, supervise koshering practices and represent orthodox Jewry in general.

Founding meetings were called in all the towns and committees were elected to carry out the Agudas Yisroel program. In Ostrowa a founder meeting was held during Khol Hamoed Pesach 5676 [1916] and was attended by a large number of people from all classes of the Jewish population.

Several speakers made presentations about the purpose of Agudas Yisroel and Ostrowa voted to found an association.

A committee of prominent men was soon chosen: Reb Mendel Goldwaser, Reb Jozef Wolf Rekant z”l, Reb Abraham Jakob Frydman, Reb Eliahu Lach, Reb Abraham Pecyner, Reb Naftali Palgon, Reb Dawid Mincberg, Reb Mosze Rozencwejg hy”d, Reb Jozef Ber Sztycberg n”y, etc.

The association carried out its activities energetically in all areas. Soon after the association came into existence the German occupation government planned various reforms in Jewish education that threatened the hederim and the entire religious educational system. Agudas Yisroel immediately undertook strong counter-measures and after many petitions, the government did not implement the changes.

During that same period, the private hederim for various reasons were not able to continue and religious education would have been abandoned. The association re-organized the Talmud Torah and Yeshiva on ulica Batorego and established a communal heder called “Yesodi HaTorah”.

The “Yesodi HaTorah” was staffed by the best melamdim. Reb Abraham Icchok Perkel, Reb Szmuel Lejb Kagan z”l, Reb Chaim Jakob Lawatanowicz, Reb Lejbisz Kolniak, the Sokolker melamed, the ¦niadower melamed, Reb Jozef Srebrnik, Reb Lejbl Palgon, Reb Zundl Brisk hy”d and the directors Reb Aba Ruszniak and Reb Szolem Darembus hy”d.

There were also a large number of secular students under the supervision of the well-known educator Mosze Holcman, a”h.

In fact, virtually all the orthodox parents sent their children to “Yesodi HaTorah”. The tuition was minimal, and in some cases free.

Later, when the economic situation improved, the private hederim re-opened and the question of religious education in Ostrowa was solved.

The Agudas Yisroel also founded a “Bes Jakob” school for girls. The director of the “Bes Jakob” School was the scholar and maskil Reb Rabbi Dawid Mincberg z”l, a son-in-law of Reb Eli Lach. Thanks to his authority and personality the “Bes Jakob” School maintained a high standard.

Under the auspices of Agudas Yisroel the organizations Bnot Agudas Yisroel [Daughters of Agudas Yisroel] and Noshi [women] Agudas Yisroel were also founded. The members of the organization were made up of young women too old for school. Arrangements were made for them to attend various lectures concerning religion and Talmudic scholarly themes given by orthodox personalities under the supervision of Mincberg.

This was a generation of proud religious Jewish daughters. They could also hold their own with students from other schools in secular knowledge.

Also for the Noshi Agudas Yisroel there were lectures on religion. They were also very involved in various charitable organizations in town.

A large number of their members took an interest in the large Navaredoker Yeshiva in Ostrowa. They created a women's committee (“Lma'an HaYeshiva”), [“To Benefit the Yeshiva”] of the most eminent women in town, headed by the well-known, religious, philanthropist Rywka Rekant. They also took care of the kitchen and from time to time collected money, linens and clothes for the Yeshiva.

In the realm of social activities the association held an eminent place.

Until 1924 when the Piłsudski law was issued regarding democratic elections for the Jewish community, the kehilla was made up of four people – all of them association members: Reb Abraham Jakob Frydman, Reb Eli Lach, Reb Mendl Goldwaser and Reb Jozef Zew Rekant.

When the Ostrower Rabbi Reb Jozef Kalisz zz”l (later Amszynower rabbi) left the Ostrower rabbinate in 1917 to take his father's place in Amszynów, the association chose the famous gaon Reb Meir Dan Plocki zz”l, a member of the Universal Central Association as head Ostrower rabbi in 1919.

After the Piłsudski decree was issued concerning democratic elections, the association took part in the process and received a majority both in the Kehilla and committee. Of the twelve members on the council, the association had seven. Of the eight members on the committee – six were with the association.

The members of the kehilla were: committee head Reb Dawid Lichtensztejn, Reb Abraham Jakob Frydman, Reb Mosze Pokrzywa, Reb Mejer Leszcz, Reb Jozef Zew Rekant, Reb Jakob Szwarc and Reb Mosze Mejer Gabinet.

The members of the committee: committee head Reb Aron Jasiński, Reb Icze Ajze Elboim, Reb Boruch Zylbersztejn, Reb Eli Lach, Reb Jechiel Mejer Emert and Reb Mosze Jozef Surowiec.

Also, during the second and third kehilla elections the association received a majority. With the help of the chairman from the other parties, a lot was accomplished in reorganizing the community responsibilities in town, such as: the question of rabbis, taking over the shehita, sweeping renovations of the mikveh that cost a large sum. Subsidies were given to various associations in town, for example: Talmud Torah, Linat Hazedek, Gmiles HaYesod and the eruv. Just before the Second World War the Khakhnasas Orhim on ulica Koża changed all the furniture, bedding, linens and a separate room was created for honoured guests.

For every Jewish holiday the kehilla arranged a special kosher kitchen for the Jewish military serving in the Polish army in Komorowo. The famous association community leader, Sejm Deputy Eli Kirszbrojn was a great help in establishing this program. He enforced, at the Ministry of War, that associations or communities that wanted to organize kosher meals for the soldiers, would be paid a set amount of money by the regiment, according to the number of soldiers who wanted to participate in the program. Every holiday large sums were elicited from the military and the kehilla also subsidized the kosher meal program.

Agudas Yisroel was active in all charitable institutions in Ostrowa. The association was important and was represented in all political and economic institutions: banks, Linat Hazedek, Gmiles HaYesod, Merchants and Artisans Unions, etc.

Also, in various political areas: Town Council, Sejm and Senate elections. The organization was very active and lead with its list of candidates. Once the association participated in a joint list with other parties.

With the destruction of Ostrower Jewry, the organizations that were so active and so much a part of life, such as Agudas Yisroel were destroyed.


[Page 272]

“Daughters of Agudas Yisroel”

By Tuwia Makower, Bnei Brak

Translated by Judie Ostroff Goldstein

Approximately in 1924 Mrs. Sara Szenirer founded the Bes Jakob School in Ostrowa.

From year to year the school evolved and the number of students, from various social classes, grew until it became the norm, that after public school, it was important that their daughters also attend the Bes Jakob School to give them an education in Yiddishkeit.

The program included Torah, n”h, religious law, Jewish history, talks about Jewish philosophy. A number of volunteers from the Gerer Shtibl, among them M. Federman and Z. Sendler, gave of themselves with heart and soul and worried about the continued existence and development of the school. The students were immediately organized into youth groups that were known as Basia. These youth groups were a part of the “Daughters of Agudas Yisroel” and supervised by the teachers from Bes Jakob. Thanks to the teachers' involvement in the organization, enrollment included not only the daughters of Hasidic homes.

ost273.jpg
Bnot Agudas Yisroel Ostroow Maz. 5692 [1932]
Farewell party for Dewojra Kohn before leaving for Israel

 

Many people helped to raise the standard of the “Daughters” group such as Rabbi Dawid Mincberg, M.Z. Niestemfower and others. The activities of the “Daughters of Agudas Yisroel” organization included various interests: cultural, social and also Israel.

In 1934 a strong aliyah movement took hold and a lot of the “Daughters” members attended Hakhshara which prepared them to live in Israel. A committee was chosen for Keren HaYeshuv and the work for Israel intensified.

The leaders of Agudas Yisroel such as Rabbi S. Orlean, Rabbi A.Z. Frydman and others visited the organizations from time to time in order to keep up interest in developing the local organization.

A lot of the members sought to make aliyah to Israel and the rest remained devoted to the ideals by which they were brought up. And during the difficult times in the camps, they sacrificed themselves for the glory of G-d.


[Page 274]

The Beginning of Zionism in Ostrowa

By Kelman Wszewar-Szapira

Translated by Judie Ostroff Goldstein

After the first (or second) Zionist Congress we –“bkhorim khovshi bes medresh” “young men dedicated to the study house” and other enthusiasts of the high ideals we found in the witty articles by Nachum Sokolow in “Hatsfira” – founded the “Agudah HaZioni” [religious Zionist group] in Ostrowa.

But how could we influence the masses, the ordinary Jews? We thought that we should turn to Dr. Bernsztejn-Kohn in Kiszynów, who was the expert in Zionist culture and literature. We asked that he send Motif Korotkin, who was well known at that time as a modern speaker. He sent us Motif. Korotkin spoke in the old bes medresh. Those who came to hear him were simple, honest Jews. Those against the movement accused us of being heretics, of not believing in the Messiah and being against the rabbis who denounced Zionism. After that we did everything possible to stop them from interfering with our speaker, but we had to cancel his speeches after a week. During that time we raised a lot of money and bought shares in the new Colonial Bank[1].

We went to see the well-known rabbi in town, Rabbi Jehuda Lejb Gordin, a scholar, an enlightened man (a Litvak – not a Hasid) to ask him to buy a share in the new Colonial Bank. We thought his purchase would influence others to follow suit. But he told us that as motivating as this could be, it could also be seen as a difference of opinion on his part, with the Hasidim and their rabbi, Ben-Cjon.

We realized he was right. I remembered an incident over a difference of opinion about a shoychet that had happened several years previously in Ostrowa and we did not want to draw this idealistic rabbi into that type of destructive argument.

Later, a letter arrived from Dr. Bernstejn-Kohn stating that we should send a representative to the Zionist General Meeting (in Warszawa) for all the groups in Poland. We thought that we should send as our representative Gdalia Dawid Morgensztern, who was not officially a Zionist, but well versed in Torah, an enlightened man and an admirer of the famous writer Nachum Sokolow[2], (publisher of “Hatsfira”). Perhaps going to the conference would win him over to this important work.

However, he would not agree to go, saying that he was not an official Zionist. We mentioned to him that Nachum Sokolow would be there.

When he heard that he would have an opportunity to see Nachum Sokolow, he was happy to go. On his return from the Congress, he became a fervent Zionist, spoke at meetings and worked very hard for Zionism.


[Page 275]

Ostrów-Mazowiecka and the Zionist Movement

Chaim Icchok Glinka, Kfar Yehusha

Translated by Judie Ostroff Goldstein

Difficult, it is very difficult to describe everything that happened during the time that I lived in Ostrów-Mazowiecka. It is difficult to give an overview of what was and – has been destroyed through such tragic events.

I lived in Ostrów-Mazowiecka from 1922 to 1935. I was born in Łomża and moved to Ostrowa. Łomża was a city that had a tradition of Zionist activity. At first, what interested me was getting involved in Zionist activities in town. At the first meeting I participated in, it was decided to strengthen Zionist activity. We elected a chairman to head the committee. I stayed in office the entire time, so I had the opportunity to follow closely and participate, with the rest of the comrades, in the World Zionist Organization during this period.

Our goal was: to penetrate a wide variety of the population and to take up important key positions; create the necessary connections required for larger Zionist activities and to close the ranks of the comrades from the World Zionist Organization. Without community institutions and the concentrated effort of the principal people, there would not have been any opportunity for the important work to restore the Jewish people. Zionist offspring were the benefactors of these ideas.

I decided to accept the position of chairman in the World Zionist Organization because soon after the first meeting I saw that there was an opportunity for stronger and broader activities on all fronts.

The World Zionist organization had a fine group of conscientious volunteers who were devoted to Zionism and public service activities.

Despite our limited means, we rented an acceptable headquarters and wrote a draft for a more enlightened program; at meetings different Zionist problems were aired and handled satisfactorily. During that time we held discussions, lectures and during the discussions we introduced interesting debates.

The Zionist enlightened program had good results: the membership grew from year to year. We became a real factor in Ostrowa.

The activities of the General Zionist Organization also stimulated the other branches and aspirations of the Zionist movement, Mizrahi, Poalei Zion, HaShomer HaTsair, etc. Important fund-raisers were undertaken for the National Funds Keren Kayemet and Keren HaYesod.

The younger members concentrated on Keren Kayemet. I remember a meeting for Keren Kayemet when the blue and white pushkes were distributed. There were so many volunteers, that we were forced to cast lots – whoever won would have the privilege of doing the work.

The yearly drive for Keren HaYesod was actually a holiday celebration for the Zionist workers. Everyone put aside their personal allegiances [to a specific Zionist group] and got to work.

In mentioning the National Funds, one cannot omit the bazaar. Everyone worked hard, but the most work was done by the women's organization. The bazaar became very popular in Ostrowa and brought in large sums of money for Keren Kayemet. The rooms of the various Zionist organizations' clubhouses and headquarters were full every evening. The bazaar was also a morale booster.

A chapter on its own is the synagogue Sharei Zion. From the start, it was a hotly debated issue: would it not be better to have the comrades spread out into the other synagogues, which would have a greater effect? But in the end the question was settled. It was decided to have a separate synagogue and Sharei Zion was an important venue for Zionist activities at the time.

Due to the initiative of the Zionist committee and a group of youngsters, a Zionist youth organization was created, that did important work, as they delivered the pioneer ideas and helped out on many other projects. At the time the organization grew and achieved a lot in the area of implanting the young with a deep Zionist ideology and knowledge.

I will never forget the activities of the Hebrew school Tarbut. It strengthened and maintained its existence, despite opposition directed against it. I will never forget the effort made at the school during its existence. Thanks to the stubbornness and dedication of the Zionist-Hebraist workers, the school developed.

Not once did we allow the school to go under, despite financial problems, and the crisis was averted through the dedication of the teachers and the strength of the workers. The school educated youngsters in Hebrew, about the culture of our people, contributed to public education and put forth the ideals of a Jewish renaissance. The committee of the “Tarbut” School, although independent, kept in constant contact with the other Zionist organizations.

In Ostrowa there was also a MizrahiYavneh” School, that used the “Mizrahi” style of education. This school also had financial problems and thanks to its great strength – overcame them.

As we think about culture, I must mention the joy felt by the Jewish population on hearing the news about the opening of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

We maintained steady communication with the Zionist Central in Poland. The work done in Ostrowa was greatly respected by the central office.

Mizrahi developed activities: they did a lot to include the Orthodox groups and they did work for the National Funds.

The organizations of Poalei Zion, HaShomer HaTsair and HeHalutz were also active. All were intensely involved in spreading Zionism.

As in many other Jewish towns and villages, Ostrowers strove and aspired to settle in Israel. The Zionist committee dealt with many aliyah problems in their united meetings, in which representatives from all factions took part. The number from Ostrowa who made aliyah was significant.

The public interests of the Jewish population were never off the agenda during meetings of the World Zionist Organization with all the factions. We, together with Mizrahi and Poalei Zion, participated in the kehilla and fought for the needs of our constituents – bettering the community institutions, and sometimes our proposals were accepted in their entirety.

We were also devoted to local affairs, participating in the Town Council, and protected Jewish interests. The Education Society filled an important function through the beautiful library and also organized lectures, discussions, etc. were held there. Zionist workers from various parties were involved in the organization. In our interesting circles were also found the community philanthropic, economic and other institutions. As well as the Zionist sector, the Agudas Yisroel and “Bund” parties were important in Ostrowa.

There were so many Zionist volunteers that it is impossible to mention them all here, but both the volunteers and the masses were devoted heart and soul to the idea of Jewish salvation in their own land and also supported with all their strength Jewish interests there.

They should always remain fresh in our memory.

The majority of Ostrower Jews, our brothers and sisters, were murdered as martyrs – hy”d.

Ostrów-Mazowiecka, I will never forget you.

Translator's note: For explanations of each Zionist group see The Branches of Zionism under Supplement.


[Page 278]

Mizrahi and the Yavneh Schools

By A. Margolis

Translated by Judie Ostroff Goldstein

ost278.jpg
A class from the “Yavneh” School with teacher Izrael Rozenberg

 

The writer of this article founded Mizrahi soon after the end of the First World War, in 1919. Through his initiative a group of people met at Icchok Zorach Orliński's and founded Mizrahi. A committee of five people was elected: Icchok Zorach Orliński, Dawid Welczer, Mosze Leszcz, Jakob D±b and Arija (Lejb) Margolis.

While work was going on to solicit members, a lot of thought was given to the settlement of Israel. After the Balfour Declaration we had the opportunity to do some real work in Israel.

People collected money for Keren HaGolah, [Zionist organization] distributed the money and participated in a variety of related activities.

When Reb Michel Tejtel returned from Russia in 1921 and Reb Mordchai Kohn in 1922, (both devoted volunteers) the work of organizing the two funds began in earnest. They were the foundations on which Israel was built. Reb Michel Tejtel was deputy for Keren Kayemet and chairman of Keren HaYesod.

At that time Mizrahi took an active part in helping to create the first Hebrew school in town – “Tarbut” and many people helped organize and establish the school by influencing Orthodox and Hasidic parents to enroll their children.

Several years later, when the religious element turned against the “Tarbut” curriculum, Mizrahi founded the “Yavneh” School with a more religious program.

The “Yavneh” School also had financial problems that they overcame. The teachers were Icchok Szumowicz, Izrael Rozenberg, Jakob Perec, Bitner and others.

In 1922 the Mizrahi organization opened its headquarters at 1 ulica Pułtuska with its own prayer house for Zionists who had been thrown out of the Hasidic shtiblakh, as well as for the children attending the “Yavneh” school.

During a general meeting the following people were elected to the committee: Mordchai Kohn, Aron Frejlich, Shabtai Przetycki, Kelman Zylberman and Szmuel Marchewka.

A lot of people were attracted by the scripture lessons given by Jakob Meier Margolis.

Mizrahi also developed a variety of activities, many achieved by penetrating Orthodox circles and drawing them into working for Israel and the National Funds.

Several years later Mizrahi moved to a larger headquarters in Bromberg's house at 10 Rynek and the membership quickly grew to hundreds.

Mizrahi also took part in municipal politics and in 1924 elected two members to the kehilla: Reb Michel Tejtel and Reb Icchok Jakob Podbielewicz, and one to the Town Council – Reb Mordchai Kohn.

ost279.jpg
Bruria association of Poalei Mizrahi

 

In 1927 Reb Michel Tejtel was also elected Alderman on the Town Council and later in 1929 Reb Icchok Jakob Podbielewicz was elected to that position; Reb Mordchai Kohn was also elected to the Town Council.

In Tamuz 5692 [June 1932], Mizrahi invited Rabbi Elimelech Neufeld to speak and he received a warm welcome. He held an enlightening lecture and also visited the “Yavneh” School.

During this time, the official Mizrahi representatives: Rabbi Icchok Rubinsztejn, Rabbi Mosze Ostrowski (from Israel), Rabbi Jeszejahu Szapiro, Dr. Symcha Bunem Feldman, Rabbi Hager, Rabbi Borg z”l, Mosze Szapiro, Jakob Grynberg and others visited Ostrowa.

Ultimately Mizrahi had hundreds of members and a lot of supporters and was involved in various activities that concerned Zionism and community social work.

The Chairman of Mizrahi for the entire period 1922 (since his return from Russia) until 1937 (when he left for Israel) was Reb Mordchai Kohn.

And this was how Mizrahi gained a respected place in our town and was known for its activities throughout Ostrowa until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 when Polish Jewry was annihilated, along with our dear town Ostrowa, her volunteers and political parties.

ost280.jpg
People accompanying the Mizrahi leader Mordchai Kohn to the train for his aliyah

 


[Page 281]

Poalei-Zion ZS

By Izrael Sztejnberg

Translated by Judie Ostroff Goldstein

Economic conditions in Ostrowa were not favourable for the growth of workers' organizations. No factories or large enterprises existed in town. There were two steam mills, two mechanical sawmills and one brewery. These businesses employed about one hundred Jewish workers. There were two large wholesale businesses - Lewartowicz's and Lichtensztejn's store.

There were about two hundred small workshops (with one or two owners and workers). A larger number of young people did not have a trade – the majority of them were under the influence of the Communists. Poalei-Zion - ZS, Left Poalei-Zion and Bund were widely supported by the unskilled labourers and tradesmen.

ost281.jpg
Poalei-Zion ZS “Borochow” group

 

The worker organizations, Left Poalei-Zion and Bund were small and weak. Poalei-Zion (left) did not have their own clubhouse or a youth organization. The organization of Poalei-Zion (left) was made up of individuals who politically active only during the elections for Town Council, or Sejm and in the last years – also to the Zionist Congress.

Until 1929, the Bund and the Communists did not have any serious competition for the support of the Jewish working class and artisans in Ostrowa. A large youth organization called HaShomer HaTsair existed. They ran a masterful education program, were active in the Hebrew public school Tarbut and took an active part in all Zionist funds. However, by choice, HaShomer HaTsair did not participate in the political arena. They did not participate in the elections for the Kehilla, Town Council or Sejm.

A change of political power among the Jewish working class and artisans came about with the reorganization of the Jewish Socialist Worker's party Poalei-Zion ZS in the years 1929-1939. The new Zionist Socialists ruled the workers and artisans because they had prepared systematic,

ost282.jpg
Poalei-Zion committee in Ostrow Maz. 1939

 

serious and enlightened programs, set up cultural and economic institutions and were well organized.

At the head of the worker's organization Poalei-Zion ZS were comrades: Sztejnberg, Borylas, the Grynszpan brothers, the Wapniak brothers, Podbielewicz, Raf, Chaim Zylbersztejn, Bengelsdorf, and later the young men: Azriel Chrust, Jakob Tejtel, etc. Chairmen of the party were, in order: Bengelsdorf, Jakob Grynszpan and Azriel Chrust.

The number of comrades grew from day to day, and Poalei-Zion ZS became one of the strongest and most influential parties in Ostrowa and surrounding area. Its activities influenced many areas of Jewish life in the city. The Jewish population considered the Poalei-Zion ZS volunteers as serious, dedicated social and political activists. Therefore confidence in the Zionist Socialist movement grew.

A united front was created with the artisans. Because of this united front Poalei-Zion ZS scored a large victory during the elections for Town Council and elected three councilmen: Raf, Podbielewicz and Nejmark. This victory raised the prestige of the party even in the eyes of non-Jews. From then on they treated the Jewish Socialist Zionist movement as a serious power on the Jewish streets of Ostrowa.

The councilmen Podbielewicz, Raf and Nejmark protected the interests of the Jewish population with pride and daring. Raf and Pobielewicz were voted by the councilmen to also sit (as Aldermen) on the town committee. Thanks to their activities, subsidies were granted to the

ost284.jpg
League for a working Eretz Yizroel

 

private Jewish schools Tarbut and Talmud Torah. Due to the intervention of our councilmen many decisions aimed against the Jewish population's interests were amended and a lot of injustices against certain Jewish social classes and individuals were corrected. Thanks to their endeavors Jews were also appointed as patrons in various districts in town. The writer was “patron” in a non-Jewish district (ulica Malkinia and area) for two years. The responsibilities of the patrons were, among others, to certify the requests for social assistance and applications for exemption from town taxes.

In order to offer constructive help to the artisans, Poalei –Zion ZS created an excellent credit union that distributed loans to artisans in the amounts of one to two hundred Zlotys. The relief fund was different from others in that: a) It did not direct any business operations, b) a share amounted to only five percent of the loan amount, c) the interest was minimal (six percent).

The fund was controlled through the government cooperative division. The number of members grew from day to day and with them the savings and available funds. The artisans and workers had great confidence in the relief-fund. It existed until the outbreak of the Second World War.

The comrades of Poalei-Zion ZS participated actively in the work of the National Funds, Keren Kayemet and Keren HaYesod. The comrades participated in the day to day “dirty” work by collecting the tithes for Keren Kayemet and also represented the administrative agencies. Sztejnberg also worked for many years distributing the Keren Kayemetpushkes” and monthly collections; he was also active in organizing the Bazaar on behalf of Keren Kayemet (under the auspices of WIZO). The yearly Bazaar became a tradition and brought in a lot of money.

Poalei-Zion ZS was represented by Mosze Raf on the committee of the large Jewish library, that was famous throughout the region. He was devoted to the institution and the he was the

 

ost285a.jpg
 
ost285b.jpg
Azriel Chrust hy”d
 
Jakob Tejtel a”h

 

inspiration for the cultural activities in the library. Thanks to his knowledge, the library developed and serviced the entire town and region and was very popular with Jews and non-Jews. This was the only large and well-catalogued library in town and in the entire area.

The Poalei-Zion ZS did not limit itself only to activities in the realm of political organizations, but also created Zionist cultural and sport institutions.

HaAvod [Labour] embraced the artisans. They prepared for aliyah. The Hakhshara became cultural. Twice a week the Avod comrades got together, to talk about problems in Israel, read news about the HeHalutz movement and learn Hebrew. The number of comrades in HaAvod grew, but the number of certificates being distributed declined. As I remember, three members of HaAvod managed to make aliyah to Israel: Goldwaser, Kolniak and Ratowicz.

The youth organization Freiheit developed and took an active part in Zionist programs such as Keren Kayemet, HeHalutz, Hebrew lessons, summer camps, Hakhshara, etc.

Directing Freiheit were the gifted and devoted party comrades: Jakob Tejtel and Azriel Chrust. The latter shared his ability and knowledge. He was devoted to the movement and later worked at Zionist headquarters in Warszawa.

Over thirty comrades joined HaPoal. The handball group excelled. The sports programs of HaPoal were under the guidance of Icchok Blumowicz, the teacher, who now lives in Israel. Thanks to his work, HaPoal had a good reputation throughout the entire region.

HeHalutz and HeHalutz Hatzair, under the auspices of Poalei-Zion ZS took part in cultural work run by Borylas, Sztejnberg, Chrust and others. This was to lighten the work- load of Borylas in the pioneer organizations. He taught Hebrew and gave talks about Israel, generally about the workers' movement in Israel. The headquarters of HeHalutz, at the beginning, was far from the centre of town, on Rożan Highway, but still Borylas along with the writer, would go there late at night, in the freezing cold and snow, to lecture the HeHalutz group. It can be said that Poalei-Zion ZS in Ostrowa, was a Zionist Socialist educational institute for Jewish workers and artisans and with its accomplishments wrote a wonderful page for the proletariat Zionist movement in Ostrowa. The earnest Poalei-Zion ZS volunteers murdered by the Nazis never saw the birth of our Jewish home in Israel.

Honour their memory!

 

Footnotes
  1. The Jewish Colonial Trust was founded in 1899. Herzl had the idea to create a bank by selling shares to Zionists as the mainstay of future pioneering efforts in Israel (Palestine). It was a disappointment Return
  2. Nachum Sokolow (1859-1936) Born in Wyszogrod, Poland, died in London, England. He was a regular columnist and finally the editor of “Hatsfira”. See Zionist Personalities in the Supplement for details Return

 

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