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[Page 157]

A few ideas gathered from Będzin newspapers:

Extracts from: “Zagłębier Newspaper”, “Zagłębier Life”, “The Jewish Weekly”,
and “Zagłębier Silesian Word” in the years 1937–1939; without modifications

Translated by Ricky Benhart (nee Schikman)


Festive opening of the Sport Stadium “Hakoach” in Będzin

On Sunday, the Jewish Zagłębie population enjoyed some festive moments, while witnessing the opening of the only Jewish sport stadium in our area. Already on Saturday, the interested parties interrogated the meteorologists in order to know the weather forecasts for the next day. We were lucky to be granted summer weather, so that all the festivities could take place as planned.

Early on in the day, the athletes gathered in the stadium, in order to rehearse the exercises and pre-competitions. The real festivities started in the afternoon. At 2:30 in the afternoon the athletes marched into the stadium following the Hakoach orchestra at the head. The procession was organized by the technical director of the gymnastic department, Moniek Plesner. Were also marching; the “Maccabee” organizations of Bielica, Kosow, Szczecin, Czestochowa, Sosnowiec, the exemplary groups of “Bar Kochbah” (Katowice), the marvelous junior athletes of the Warsaw “Maccabee”, J.T.G. (Kraków), and last – the groups of Będzin “Hakoach”: the football clubs, basket-and-volleyball players, light-athletes, tennis players, gymnasts and cyclists. The warmest reception was reserved for the groups of the student-club 'Rapid', which marched particularly well.

The representative of the Będzin “Hakoach” said in his opening speech: “In spite of the current difficult situation for the Jews, we will not let up in the work of physical training of the young Jewish generation, which is so necessary to us for the building of our land”.

In the name of the “Maccabee” organization, Mr. Rojcher of Bielica, spoke. Following various greetings, Mr. Borzykowski, in the name of “Hakoach”, thanked all those present and the participating organizations, that came to take part in the Jewish Sport Day.

Then came the ceremony of the symbolic cutting of the ribbon by the “Hakoach” representative, Mr. Pinkus. The orchestra, under the baton of Mr. Barenblat, played the Jewish National and the Polish hymns. The stadium is officially open.

Now began the gymnastic feats. The Będzin “Hakoach” demonstrated some free-style exercises, done by men and women, and other groups also demonstrated their competence. Then there were competitions in various domains: light athletics; discus throwing; long jumping; high jumping; basket-and-volleyball, and others.

For the finish, there was a football match between “Hakoach” (Będzin) and “Maccabee” (Warsaw) 2:0 (1:0).

Then there were prize distributions for the following players: Nunberg Nathan, Janklewicz Jakub, Rozen Yitzchak, Rozen Mordechai, and Szywek Ber.

After the sport presentation, there was a festive supper prepared in the hall of the Orphanage for invited guests and intimate participants.

We must mention the people that helped prepare this Jewish Sport Day with such success: Mssrs: Pinkus, Magistrate Borzykowski, Zmodski, Perl. Miss Steffa Hercygier, Magistrate Buchwajc, Prof. Meler, M. Plesner, Engineer Tadek Einwald, Nathan Alexandrowicz, Lachman, Fiszel and Zysman Lichtensztajn. Congratulations!


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[Page 158]


Stormy Handiwork Assembly

The Handcraft Union's annual assembly took place in their own hall on Kolontaya 45. Already several weeks ago, labor pains started concerning the upcoming meeting. There were silent frictions between the tailor-section, which considers itself an independent profession within the general handcraft union, and the other sectors.

The frictions came about because all the sectors are against the proposition of the tailor section, that in the new board, Mr. Sabkowski should be a representative; since he has certain advantages from the handcraft union in general and from the tailor sector specifically, and they fear a conflict of interests.

The assembly was opened by the vice-president Mr. Fersztenfeld. Presiding was Mr. M. W. Kaminski. The presidium was made up of Elimelech Kanner and Aharon Golenzer as secretary. The activity report was given by Mr. Fersztenfeld. Treasury report – Mr. Fajgenblat. Following the reports, the storm erupted around the question of whether Mr. Sabkowski should receive the floor. It came to a vote. The majority voted “yes”.

During his speech Sabkowski accused the most active members. This step drew out sharp protests and ensued in a terrible chaos. It progressed to respective quarreling with the result that the president was forced to close the stormy assembly without any decision or result coming forth.


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“Hakoach” instructors


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Festive Celebration of “Ahavat Chessed”

The “Ahavat Chessed” organization of Będzin celebrated its 25th jubilee of existence. The festivities took place in a discreet manner.

The newly renovated hall that was all lit up added to the festive atmosphere; a large bulletin board had all the names etched of the deceased members, at the top of which stood Reb Nachum Cukerman, who donated the hall for the organization.

The president, Mr. Eliezer Borsykowski opened the celebration, expressing the wish that the next jubilee should be celebrated in Israel.

The following persons were invited to join the presidium: Mr. Fridberg, Rabbi Szmuel Bambach, Reb Mendel Rozenzaft, Editor Lewkowicz, Mosze Rozenker, and Reb Bunim Szapira.

Cantor Klagsbald sang with the choir “Mah Tovu” (from the morning liturgy), prayed the Maariv service (evening service), counted the days of Sfira (between Passover and Shavuoth), and was warmly congratulated by the audience.

After remembering the names of all those members that had passed on, Mr. Fridberg then gave a short summary of all of the activities of “Ahavat Chessed”.

Then, after the spiritual, came the more materialistic part. Everyone sat down at well-laden tables and enjoyed with quite a good appetite… Rabbi Szmuel Bambach also gave a spiritual course, holding a speech about the higher values of human life. At the end of his speech, he thanked the president, Mr. Borsykowski; vice-president, Apelboim; the deacon, Yehoshua Rozenker; and others for their efforts for the good of the organization.

The cantor entertained the audience with the singing of national folk songs. At the end of the evening a gift was presented to the president of many years, Mr. Borsykowski – a beautiful silver Kiddush cup. The affair ended late in the night.


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[Page 159]


Stormy General Assembly of the Bendiner “Talmud Torah”

The yearly general assembly took place in the hall of the Talmud Torah. As usual, there were few members present. The assembly was opened by the Pres. Mr. Auerbach, and Szloime Szeltzer took over the chair of the evening.

Mr. Tenenbaum reads the minutes of the preceding protocol and remits a treasury report. Mr. Buchwajc gave an activities report. He reported on the different disturbances and harassment that they had endured from the Gerrer Chasidim who totally denied the whole thing.

A storm broke out when Mr. Leibisz Buchwajc of Mizrachi mentioned Reb Mendel Levin by name. At that point the whole hall shook. Mr. Buchwajc was attacked not only with words such as “scoundrel”, but young men were approaching him with clenched fists.

A young man sprang over the benches and tables – Pintche Sztajer, and tears down the hats of the opposition. The storm takes on more importance. The situation becomes risky and the chairman therefore declared quickly the assembly to be ended.

(Remark: Reb Mendel Levin z”l was considered, in the “Aguda” circles as the Rabbi having taken the place of his late father, Rabbi Zvi Chanoch Levin z”l, who passed away in 1935. In anger that Buchwajc z”l did not refer to Reb Mendel as The Rabbi, the Gaon (the highly learned) Reb Mendel, resulted in the above-mentioned storm. – The editors.)


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Sequel of the General Assembly

A new general assembly took place of the Talmud Torah, and this time it was peaceful. During the discussion period, no accusing misdeeds were hurled at each other, but rather the will was expressed that the Talmud Torah be established on a healthy foundation.

The chair was given to Mr. Moshe Binyamin Klajnman, who declared, that on the agenda was only one point, and that is the election of a board. A candidate list was introduced and accepted by those assembled. Those elected were: D. Lasker, M. Dafner, Auerbas, Y. Wolgryn, Eliezer Feldman, M. H. Mitzenmacher, Ch. Lieberman, Levin, Y. Englard, Y. Slowatycki, A. Tenenbaum, S. Szeltzer, Moshe Binyamin Klajnman, Mendel Rozenzaft, M. Roze, Ch. W. Sztajnhart, G. Zachariasz, A. Wajnreb, H. Sztajnkeller, Y. Landau, Grynwald and Mendel Domb.

The new committee had an immediate ad hoc meeting at which the following presidium was composed: Mordechai Dafner – president; Eliezer Feldman and M. H. Mitzenmacher – vice-presidents; A. Tenenbaum – secretary.


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A Festive Act in the Orphanage at the End of the School Year 1938

The wealthy Jew, Yakov Gutman, decided to finish the building of the “orphanage”. The whole fifth floor, which is for the moment still totally raw, will shortly be completed thanks to the generosity of the philanthropist Mr. Gutman.

On Tuesday the orphanage held the traditional end-of-year school party, at which time the school reports and diplomas are handed out.

The celebration takes place in the large auditorium in the presence of the executive. The nicely dressed children fill out the long rows of chairs in the hall.

“Dear Children” – started the speech of the chairwoman Cyrele Szajn. “Today has a large connotation for you. Many of you receive good report cards; which demonstrate, that you studied well and succeeded your exams. You children, who end the school now and start a new life, remember, that by working hard you will never be embarrassed, because it is with work that we are now building our land and carry the name of Jew proudly!”

Yitzchok Wygodski, speaks of the meaning and the sense in the phrase “Girsa Diyankusa” (which means the learning during childhood years), which is remembered throughout our lives forever, and he expressed the hope that among the children will grow up worthy citizens for the Jewish people and the land.

Then the eleven-year-old Gutcha Szapir thanked the executive and particularly the ladies, C. Szajn and S. Wajnsztok, to whom she presented bouquets of flowers.

At the end, the teacher Zajder, spoke about the importance of learning in the Jewish tradition and he distributed the diplomas. The children received ice cream and the celebration was closed with the singing of the “Hatikvah”.


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[Page 159/160]


“Happenings” in the Bendiner Synagogue

The whole city was turned upside down because of regretful events that took place in the synagogue during Shavuoth, 1938.

On the demand of the synagogue members and its committee, Rav Grossman came for Shabbat, the eve of Shavuoth, to pray. Disregarding the official invitation, the sexton, received the order, that without the approval of the Community, no one is allowed to speak in the synagogue.

The president of the synagogue committee, Mosze Manela, disregarding the Community “order”, gave the Rav the right to give his speech. All those present were glued to their seats, mesmerized, swallowing the pearls of wisdom of our sages that the Rav cited in his speech; his lecture had a colossal effect.

After the service, the Rav was again invited to come to the synagogue for Yom Tov (the holidays). The next day, on the first day of Shavuoth, what happened in the synagogue is something that was never yet seen in Będzin.

After Shachris (the morning prayers), the president, Rubinlicht was given the honor of Pesicha (opening the Ark where the Torah scrolls are kept). When he walked up to the Holy Ark, someone called out: - “the synagogue members request that the Rav Hagaon (title of honor for a very learned man) speak about the reception of the Torah by the Jews at Sinai!”

Mr. Rubinlicht wanted to say something on that matter. But a storm erupted, so that he could not even begin to talk. The gentlemen, Leibisz Buchwajc and Manela appealed to the public to listen to Mr. Rubinlicht, but there were no powers to calm the overexcited mood.

Mr. Rubinlicht never got to speak, and then began the reading of the Torah portion. The public slowly calmed down, but at the fourth calling to the Torah, there was a second regretful act. The “aliyahs” (men being called up to the Torah which is considered an honor), were distributed by Rubinlicht and Manela. At the fourth calling up to the Torah, there was a dispute between them. Rubinlicht called up Aaron Herziger, and Manela declared that the honor was coming to Rav Grosman.

The cantor called up Herziger as ordered by Rubinfeld, and Manela called up again the Rav. Rubinfeld declared “ the Rav will not receive the aliyah”; and forbids the man who reads the Torah (the Bal Koreh) to continue reading. “I say yes”, retorts Manela.

The Rav stood embarrassed by the open Torah and could not say the blessing. There were those present who wanted by force to stampede the Bimah (the raised dais where the Torah is read); to force Rubinlicht down, whose tallis (prayer shawl) they had already torn down. It became an indescribable scene.

Finally it quieted down, the Rav received the aliyah, and everything continued in order until after the service, when hundreds of people gathered in front of the synagogue, awaiting Mr. Rubinlicht. In order to give him a “reception” (sic); and a “festive reception” it was; he had to be accompanied home with a police escort while those around hurled insults and protests at him.

This scene took place from the synagogue until the Kolontaya Street, which was a desecration and an embarrassment for the Jews. The people were finally dispersed by the police. The epilogue was that the president, Rubinlicht, had the synagogue closed.

After some “intervention”, the synagogue was reopened the next morning, on the second day of Shavuoth, but there was no holiday ambience. The cantor did not hold the services and there was no choir, the usual Bal Koreh did not read from the Torah; it was a total upheaval… Thus did the Bendiner Jews celebrate this year the holiday that ushers in the Zman Torahtenu – the holiday of the reception of the Torah.

What lesson must we learn from all this? It seems that this shows, that the outburst in the synagogue was a result of the embitterment of the Jews that has accumulated against the leaders that want to rule over the Bendin Jewry with power.

The leaders of the “Agudah” should not think incorrectly that the victory is theirs, because no one knows what results such a dispute can have and who will be hurt in the matter.

It is about time that people should be found that would take the initiative of establishing a “Round Table”, to find a peaceful solution, in order to avoid the horrors that disputes and confrontations bring in the battle that is called “Rabbinate”. Let us have peace in our city!

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[Page 160]


“Educational” Methods”

How deep the hate is rooted in the rabbinic disputes is well displayed in the following fact: in the “cheder” (the lower children's school) of the “Yesode Hatorah” of the “Agudah”, a teacher taught the children the bible with the commentary of Rashi. At this particular lesson the director of the school, Reb Netah was present, who happened to tell the explanation of a passage by their Rabbi of the city and he was, thereby, referring to the Agudah Rabbi.

One of the young students asked very naively: Was this explanation given by Rabbi Grossman? (Rabbi Grossman was considered the Zionistic Rabbi – the editors) The director became red with fury, hearing this question. His eyes raged at the student who dared mention the name of the rival Rabbi…

The student was punished: He had to leave the class and go out to the corridor. After standing that way for quite a while, the director finally let him return to his class, but he had to wash his hands first…


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Only One Candidate for the Job of Rabbi

Only a couple of days are left for the competition of sending in offers for the position of Rabbi and “Associate Rabbi”. Until today there has been only one candidate offer for the position of Rabbi, and that is from the incumbent, the old Rabbi's son.

On the other hand, for the position of Associate Rabbi, there were a larger number of candidate offers, among others, that of the brother-in-law of the Radomsker Rebbe, the Rav David Halberstam of Sosnowiec.

This case has called out quite a bit of tumult in the Zionistic quarters, which have the best proof, which all Rabbis in Poland understand, that they cannot present their candidature at the same time when there is a descendent, a son of a previous Rabbi.

The last day of Chol Hamoed Passover, 1938, is the last day for submitting offers as a candidate in this competition.


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[Page 160-161]


City Expenditures and Campaign Parties
(Concerning the Rabbinical question in Bęzdin)
Remark: Since the death of the Rabbi, Rav Zvi Hanoch Levin z”l, 1935, Bendin has been left without an elected spiritual leader; not only that, but 2 Rabbis have been effective in the city, one belonging to “Mizrachi”, and the other to “Agudas Israel”. From time to time, comments were heard in various circles, suggesting that there be Rabbinic elections, in order to end this abnormal situation. The writer of this particular article, Ben-Ish, is against the elections, in order to avoid family quarrels; he writes, that we must still wait, because times are not normal, and the decision will come from itself… his prophecy was indeed realized: the decision did come from itself, a short time thereafter, with the destruction of the city, which no longer needed the position of a Rabbi…
(The editors)

On the agenda of the Bediner community appears the question of rabbinic elections. It doesn't matter when and through whom this problem will be solved. It is a fact that this problem exists and has taken on a sharp form in community life.

The pretenders and counter-candidates for these sustenance-giving positions have also begun to contribute their personal share in this campaign, against which we are forced to react strongly.

The bitter Rabbinic-battle in Sosnowiec created enough problems for us, embittered our lives and darkened our faces (embarrassed us). Similar seeds have been sown on the Będzin ground, which will most probably shortly become engrained and start to sprout.

We must not forget, and others should not be naďve and think, that if someone will succeed and force their candidate through, that therein will have been solved the whole question. The defeated and wronged side will never let the matter go and forfeit on their blemished pride; and there is a basis to believe that only then will the real dispute become enflamed. The latest histories of Rabbinic elections in many cities of our country will justify our presumption. Where then is the issue and what is the advice to take in order to avoid something similar here by us? Is life so beautiful here right now that we have all our energy to spare on such battles? Or should we be committing suicide by our own hands at a time like this?

Speaking of the painful Rabbinic question in our midst, we have to take into account certain facts, which we have no right to deny or to suppress. First of all: we cannot in our negotiations be one-sided, and it is the moral obligation of the community leaders neither to exploit nor ignore one or the other side. They must handle the matter in such a fashion as to please all the different population demographics. The community leaders cannot be one-sided and one-party-oriented, since their activities will not be accepted by the opposition parties of the population resulting in the leaders' loss of confidence and authority.

Where is the way out? How will we be able to satisfy all parties involved in the city? We will try to establish now which side is more powerful. One side is represented through the religious Zionistic party called “Mizrachi”; the other is composed of the Chassidim of Ger. Between them, there is yet a third party being built of non-partisan Chassidim.

We must deal with existing facts, that both of these main parties have presented long-term concrete plans, how to solve the painful Rabbinic question in our city, by inviting two candidates; and it is a fact, that both Rabbinic candidates are living here for a very long time, and around one there is gathered the majority of the city, which has in reality already long overshot the limits of the party. However, to ignore totally the second party, even though they do not possess such a moral power, is also impossible, because then we are letting ourselves into a very hefty battle between parties. We must, therefore, appease both sides, but the question remains, how do we do that?

The community leadership is obliged to restore the Rabbinic-committee in such a manner that it should truly correspond to the needs and interests of the city, and that its presence should be empowered and recognized by all parts and demographics of the city.

According to our opinion, such a Rabbinate would have true authority, especially if we would co-opt to them the Rabbis of Grajewo and Kozieglowy. The nationalists with the wide folk masses will then have their Rav Grossman; the non-partisan Chassidim – the Koszeglover; and the Gerrer Chassidim will not have been wronged. Together it will constitute a fitting Beth Din (Jewish Tribune) that will have earned the confidence of everyone.

What do we do in the meantime with the question of a Rabbi? According to our opinion, we must avoid at this time family quarrels and unnecessary battles, and it is advisable to relinquish on one's pride of having a Rabbi another couple of years, until the times will become more normal. The decision will then come of its own… In the meantime, let Rav Chmaides of Katowice represent our community as an interim Rabbi.

Yes, this is our proposition, if we represent the honest, non-partisan standpoint, because for us, at this very moment, the following are the 2 most important questions: A respected Tribunal, and peace!
(signed)
Ben-Ish (editor S. Lewkowitz, Ben-Amotz)
“Zagłębier Life” number 18, of 12.9.1938.


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[Page 161]


A Word about the City Council Elections in Będzin, 1939

According to rumors that have been circulating, the Christians, particularly the “Endekes, the ND's” are preparing to take the City Council by storm at the upcoming national elections. Having a larger representation in the city, the “Endekes”, as is their custom, would use all kinds of means, in order to weaken the Jews on an economic basis.

In response to this, we Jews, must use all means in our power in order to present a unified front, all personal frictions and disaccords must be tabled; otherwise we are confronted with a catastrophe, that the Jewish representation in the City Council would be reduced to naught.

We must make sure, before it is too late, about the unity of the Jewish vote. We Jews seem to have a hard time about these things, however, the healthy logic demands this as does the Jewish conscience and our heart dictates this. There is but one solution – unity!

It is about time that our politicians and public servants of all directions should understand that our power remains only in our being united.


[Page 162]


Otherwise, we will have to pay the price later on.

[Click here to extend the picture)We must also be very sure of whom we want to send to the City Council. Not only the party platform is the issue, but also the qualities of the candidates themselves, their devotion and loyalty should enter into consideration.

The Jewish population and the future Jewish representation is now standing before a big test, which they must pass, hopefully. We must not disappoint ourselves!



After the Elections of the City Council of Będzin, 1939

The victory of the Zionist movement is impressive, who presented themselves in a unified block before the elections of this city's City Council, thereby, receiving 7 mandates, out of the 15 general Jewish mandates available. The majority of the Jewish population remained loyal to the Zionist flag, voting for the candidates with a definite Zionistic profile.

The “miracle” of the Bund in Będzin and in all of the Zagłębier province did not happen. They received in all the larger cities of Zagłębier, 3 mandates each, in spite of the immense electoral campaign that they put up. Specifically where most of the Jewish population is imbued with Nationalistic awareness, there is little place for the cerebral-oriented Bundist…



The “ORT” Organization at Work

The new representatives of the “ORT” organization in Będzin held its first meeting, at which the following presidium was elected: President – Mrs. Paradistal; Vice-president – Binyamin Graubart; Treasurer – Natail; Secretary – Zuckerkandel.



From the Teacher's Association

These last couple of days there was a general assembly held in Będzin of the Jewish professional Teacher's Association. At this meeting there were several pertinent questions that were being discussed, and a report was delivered of the last teacher's meeting in Warsaw. The following executive was elected: Berkowicz; Horowicz; Schwanenfeld; Karlin; and Perlmutter. Replacements: Ajzenberg and Elchanan Zajder.

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Gordonia Summer Camp

True to tradition, the Gordonia committee organized this year (1939) a summer camp which will be located in Rajcza, which lies in the Beskiden [Beskydy/Bieszczady] mountain range. This camp will hold more than 200 young Gordonists of all organizations in the Zagłębier region.

According to confirmation from the organization higher up, this year's summer camp leader will be the Israeli delegate Koifsche Ajzen who comes from Mishmar Hasharon in Emek Chefer. There is also the happy participation of patron Mrs. Miriam Liwer. A special instructor will also take part from “Maccabi”, so that this year's Gordonia camp is guaranteed to be successful.


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From “Brit Hachayal”

Sunday morning a sad academic assembly took place in memorty of the folk hero, Shlomo Ben Yossef z”l. The stage was decorated with a picture of the deceased. Around the picture stood member of Baytar with flages. The session was led by Zigmund Szerer. Speakers were Dr. Sternberg and Eliezer Szoctock from Israel.

The “Brit Hachayal” of Bedin made all the preparation for the celebration off the completion of the writing of the Torah in the name of Ze'ev Jabotinsky.

The Torah was carried from the hall to the large city synagogue with parade and music. Pertinent speeches were held by Rav Grosman from Będzin and Rav Chmaides of Katowice.


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[Page 162-163]


Afro-Sanatorium for Pioneers (Chalutzim)
(Important accomplishment of the Będzin Kibbutz)

In a very discreet manner, the Chalutz Kibbutz of Będzin inaugurated a very important institution: their own Afro-Sanatorium in Olkusz. In a newly constructed house, close by the woods, and beautifully light rooms, there is the sanatorium that is foreseen for 16 members of the Chalutz Kibbutz.

Tired, overworked, stressed, full of smoke and toxic air, the Chalutzim can come to relax for several weeks and take off from work, whereby they can improve their health conditions. They return to their daily routine and activities, refreshed and in better condition. The Bendiner Chalutz Kibbutz thus has answered to a very important need, that of the care of the condition of their members.

The sanatorium is managed by women members of the Kibbutz and is under the supervision of the Olkusz physician, Dr. Einhorn, who gives of his medical time with no pay.

The first installations were made possible thanks to the generosity of one of its patron, the president Mr. Fürstenberg.



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[Page 163]


Regional Conference of the Chalutzim Pioneer Youth Organizations

On the second day of Shavuoth, in the afternoon, there was a general regional conference of the Kibbutzim and Pioneer youth organizations in the Zaglembia.

In name of Merkaz Hechalutz, A. Zadernowsky participated. He came from Israel. High on the agenda was what to do with the 20th jubilee of the movement (1918-1938). Also there was the review of all the activities and work accomplished by the Zaglembia organizations.

Among other things, the following was decided:

  1. to celebrate through various ceremonies the 20th jubilee of Hechalutz
  2. to expand in every city and town new pioneer branches
  3. to mobilize the youth for Kibbutzim
  4. to spread the jubilee publications of “He'atid” (the Future); “ Yediot” (News) and others
  5. to publish a scrapbook of the life and activities of the Zionist Youth Organizations of Zaglembia.
Towards the end it was decided to inscribe the Pioneers in the “Golden Book” of Keren Kayemet Le'Israel. It is an honor for Zaglembia to commemorate eternally the 20th jubilee in the “Golden Book”, because Będzin was the cradle of the Pioneer movement, and it is from Będzin that all the first groups of pioneers went on Aliyah to Israel.

A regional secretariat was established to take care of matters, and it was made up of the following people: Marowszyk (Kibbutz Będzin); Szlamek Cymerman (“Gordonia” Będzin); Szprynger (“Freiheit” Będzin); Balicky (“Hashomer Hatzair” Dabrowa); and Eliezer (from the group Hachshara “Gordonia” Sosnowiec).


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Academic Assembly for “Agudath Israel Youth” of Będzin

In the movie house “Nowosci” (News), an academic assembly took place devoted to the 20-year existence of the Agudath Israel Youth movement in Poland.

The stage was decorated with pictures of the highest-ranking personalities in the country, as well as those of Rabbi Shapira and Reb Tzvi Hanoch Levin z”l. The hall was quite well filled. However, the majority of those present were not young people, but rather the elderly, old Chassidic Jews.

The session was opened by the rabbinic secretary, Mr. Hercberg, and on his recommendation, honor was given to the holy men of Israel. Then there were welcoming speeches, in the name of the local organization, Mr. Weizman spoke in Hebrew; in the name of the Bendiner Rabbinate spoke Mr. Hersz Nachman Maimon.

The Kotowicer Rabbi, Reb Fogelman then gave a report of the new settlements in Israel, which came about thanks to the heroic actions of the Pioneers. The Jewish Renaissance – according to the Rabbi, is coming about thanks to the fact that religious Jews pray three times a day for the return to Zion. This gave the Jewish people hope through the ages.

Mr. Krongrad spoke in the name of the central committee. Afterwards, the Sokolover Rabbi, as well as Mr. Binensztok of the organization from Sosnowiec.

Mr. Ferleger gave the closing address, and the session was officially ended with the singing of “Hikabtzu”[1].


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From the “Muse”

Friday and Saturday there took place in the hall of “the Muse”, musical-vocal evenings. The program promised an appearance by the folk-choir under the baton of Mendel Kaner, and a whole program of excellent compositions of Jewish treasures; a piano recital, and the dramatic club performing one-act plays, musical and choral recitals directed by a collegium.

“The Muse” which has not performed for the public in a long while, is now making a trial of miniature performances in order to inaugurate these artistic activities, carefully prepared by professional supervisors, which is worthwhile to mention.

We hope that “the Muse” which is again undertaking energetically artistic work as before will find the sympathy of the city and that the evenings will be well attended.

In connection with the recent first yahrzeit of the renowned theater director David Herman, who devoted so much of his time to “the Muse”, there was an assembly held, at which time the following speakers spoke - Welwel Rechnic and L. Kaner. There were also recitations of Jewish classics.

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[Page 163-164]


From “Tifereth Israel”

The Mizrachi hall had a festive air. There was the “Simchat Torah” celebration organized by the newly formed Tifereth Israel; which was founded by the hand craftsmen, creating a Financial Aid Fund and now the giving of a Torah for the organization.

The occasion was celebrated with attention to all the details including 'badchens' (comedians who rhyme). It is twilight; the beautifully decorated and well-lit hall is full of members. One of the ushers calls out “Music! The Rabbi is coming!”

Rav Grosman arrived with his followers. The orchestra played “Baruch Habah” (welcome). The guests were seated around the well-decked long tables and the party began.

The founder of the Tifereth Israel and the main organizer Mosze Dryter opens the festivities and honors the Rav Hagaon (title of respect) Reb Yitzhak Icek Grosman with presiding on the evening. The second main organizer, David Walderman welcomes in Hebrew and explains the meaning of the organization Tifereth Israel that they have founded.

The president of the handcraft union, Goldsztajn, expressed the wish during his welcoming speech that with the creation of Tifereth Israel, the solidarity between the Jewish workers would be strengthened.

Representing the leather goods, Josef Tuchsznajder spoke, and then the word was given to Rav Grosman. The introduction of his speech was about the death sentence imposed on the Jewish lad in Israel, Shlomo Ben Yosef z”l, who sacrificed himself for the Zionistic ideal. “No! – the Rabbi called out with pathos – “the Jewish people are ready to offer sacrifices for the building of their land and no executions will frighten us off!”

Then the honorable Rabbi spoke of foreign and Jewish culture, mentioning Jewish spiritual personalities who created cultural values for the whole world, except for their own people. He also elaborated on the meaning of this particular celebration with the writing of a Torah by Tifereth Israel.

The Torah is prepared, the orchestra plays a happy tune and the people start dancing with the Torah. After Cantor Klagsbald's singing of “LeDavid Mizmor” (a psalm), the spiritual part of the evening was ended.

Then the festive dinner began, they toasted “lechayim”, and the mood was happy and gay. The guests were entertained by the cantor who sang folk songs and by the renowned Badchan (humorist)Yitzchak Rozencwajg who told satiric stories.

All told, the celebration, which continued long into the daylight hours, was a huge success. These days, when Jewish life in the Diaspora is so miserable, such a celebration is spiritually uplifting.


*

[Page 164]


From the Handcraft Club

In the hall of the Jewish Handcraft Club, there was held an extended meeting with the participation of the executive, the tailor branch and invited members. The president Mosze Kajzer spoke about the activities of the club in the future. A discussion developed during which Abrahmtsche Klajnman presented a suggestion to create a loan fund at no interest for the members. The person that floored the suggestion immediately contributed himself, 100 zloti. Others followed his example, and immediately the sum of 300 zloti was collected. A commission was created for this purpose consisting of: Kleinman, Rotman, Grinwald and Lesnicki.

Further decisions taken were:

- to create a “minyan” at the club;
- in view of the upcoming general assembly, the executive would ask non-paying members to become full active members;
- the counselors, Grinwald and Mosze Hampel will dedicate one hour per day in the Club hall to register those interested become adherents.


*


News from “Hitachdut” (Solidarity)

On the first day of Shavuoth, a debate took place in the hall of “Hitachdut” with all the members and with the participation of the secretary-general, Mr. Yitzhak Fajgenbaum , of the Zionist Labor Party “Hitachdut”, in Poland.

Szlamek Cymerman opened the debate. The representative of the Central Committee, Fajgenbaum, elaborated about the Zionist situation in general, and the situation in Israel, where it is the second year that sees unrest stemming from the Arabs towards the Jewish settlements. The Jews are guarding their positions, heroically withstanding all the attacks of the enemy. We are convinced of our victory, which we will surely achieve in order to continue to build our land successfully.

The speaker continued to speak about the situation of the Jews throughout the world and specifically in Poland, with reference to the famous thirteen decisions that have been decreed by “OZON” which are anti-Jewish.

In his speech he elaborated on the meaning of the proclaimed action of the Keren Kayemeth Le'Israel – “Hagalilah”, whose goal it is to buy up as much land as possible in the Galilee portion of Israel.

After a discussion in which many members participated and more accurate information was given concerning a series of organizational issues, the debate was closed.

Shortly, Będzin is looking forward to greet the world-traveled, and talented speaker and journalist, Dr. Chaim Szoszkes, who will hold a lecture in the movie house “Swiatowid” [a view of the world], on the theme: “Between Jews in Babylon and Persia”.

The day following the lecture, a reception will be held in honor of the respected guest in the hall of “Hitachdut”. Dr. Shoshkes, himself is a member of the “Hitachdut” movement. The guest will lodge in the home of the “Hitachdut”-active member, Moshe Rozenker.

In connection with the fifth yahrzeit of the tragic death of the young Dr. Chaim Arlozorov z”l, an academic session will be held dedicated to his dear memory. Speaking about his life and activities will be: Israel Zelzer from Warsaw, member of “Hitachdut”, and main leader of “Gordonia” in Poland.

As has been previously mentioned, “Hitachdut” will organize this year again, a summer camp for their members, friends and sympathizers. The camp will be in Sztsirk and will last for 3 weeks. Cost is 65 zloti. The head of the camp will be a member of Merkaz. One can register at the secretariat of the party, Kollataja Street 24.

With reference to the upcoming city elections for City Council, and for the Zionist Congress, which will take place in the summer of 1939, there will be an extended membership meeting comprising the following agenda:

- shekel action
- preparations for the city council elections
- air protection loan (civil protection)


*


The Community Action for Passover

The community, taking into consideration the need of the Jewish population, which has increased enormously this last year, 1937, has thus assigned more than twelve thousand zlotes for the Passover action; this aside from the sums of money that have been raised through private donations from the wealthier city inhabitants.

The assembled monies have already been distributed to those less fortunate. The person organizing this activity was David Skoczylas.


*


[Page 165]


From the “Commerce Fund” in Będzin

In the hall of the sales commerce club there was the annual general assembly of the “Commerce Fund”.

The meeting was opened by Mr. Motel Gold with an introductory speech, in which he suggested that the President of the Council, Pinkus should preside over the assembly. The following were invited to join the presidium: A. D. Bolimowski, Binyamin Graubart, and the delegate from the revision association in Warsaw, Szpindler, and as secretary, – P. Blajch.

After reading the minutes of the last general assembly by the vice-president M. Gertner, the activities report was read, from which it becomes clear that notwithstanding all the problems that were transpiring with the bank during the past months, the existence of the bank is guaranteed.

The balance sheet reveals that the yearly turnover was in the vicinity of seven million zlotes.


*


General Assembly of the “Discount Bank”

President and supervisor of the Council, Mr. Gerszon Rechnic opened the assembly. After welcoming the representative of the Central, Mr. Szpindler, he invited the following people to join the presidium: the lawyer Dr. Romek Rechtman, S. Moszynski, and Rozenblum as secretary.

After reading the last minutes by Mr. M. Kaner, Mr. Szpindler, in the name of the revision-association (audit firm), confirmed the report from which it is revealed that the bank has developed considerably. The number of members has risen a lot; turnover in receivables was one and a half million zlotes, and most important, there is a profit reported.

A discussion took place with the participation of the following people: Bolimowski, Kaner, Stppnicki, Y. Rus. Gutensztajn, N. Londner, Dr. Rechtman, Sternfeld and others.

It is unanimously accepted that the present executive of the Council will resign. Because of the late hour, the elections were put off for two weeks.

*




From Keren Kayemeth Le'israel

In our town the “Hagalilee” act of the KKL was officially proclaimed. In connection with this activity there came to Będzin Dr. Mosze Klajnbaum, Avraham Hercfeld, and Mrs. Esther Kaplan.

Concerning this particular issue there was held in the hall of the WIZO a conference with the participation of important guests, delegates of the Jewish Agency and from all the Zionist organizations.

Saturday evening a festive “Tea Evening” is being held in the hall of the Orphanage, at which time the Act will be officially proclaimed. Dr. Mosze Klajnbaum, the Zionist leader, and master speaker, will hold a lecture.

*

From the Retailers Union

The retailers' union intervened by the tax authorities concerning the question of measuring the income tax to be paid according to turnover.

As a result of this intervention, the head of the tax office requested, that a list should be presented with the disadvantaged merchants, and if they were indeed unjustly taxed, then they will be reimbursed for the error.

In connection with the new laws about price tariffs, and unit price itemizing, a delegation negotiated with the mayor and with deputies, that the issue of tariffs is very complicated, because it has not been determined which articles can be declared as luxury items and those that are necessities.

The mayor noted the remarks and promised that he will call a conference composed of delegates of the Chamber of Commerce from Jewish and Polish merchants' unions to get their opinions in this matter.

The Będzin union is sending the following persons as delegates to the Seventh national conference of retailers' unions, which will be held in Warsaw,: Gerszon Rechnic, David Gutensztajn, Wolf Meryn, Y. Russ, and H. Bolimowski.


*


Between the Community Leaders

Because of the fact that Warden Aaron Hampel, from the rightist Labor Zionist movement, moved to Sosnowiec, the old question came to the forefront, that is: where does the Zionist warden, Nuta Londner belong – in the Community Council, or in the Management?

The “Agudah” faction of the Community is absolutely interested in that Mr. Londner should be in the Management, in order to “be rid of him” in the Council, where he steps out energetically with his Zionist faction ideas, something that the “Agudah” is not too happy about.

Warden Londner then presented this question to the mayor, who has again approbated his decision, which he gave out earlier, according to which, Londner remains as a member of the Community Council.


*


From “Linat Hacholim”

The organization of “Linat Hacholim” in Będzin is perhaps the only institution that accomplishes some very important things and doesn't bother people constantly with their charity boxes. Aside from the monthly payments, the Jewish population is not bothered by this institution, which runs a hospital and other important activities in favor of the Jewish people.

Therefore, it is more than important that the whole community should support happily this institution by contributing generously to their “Labels Sale” which it is now doing. Support “Linat Hacholim”!



[Page 166]


From the Organization “Friends of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem”

In a special meeting under the chairmanship of president Szymon Fürstenberg, the executive decided to go ahead with a promotional enlisting project for new members of this particular organization in Będzin.

It is to hope that the call of this organization will find the warmest results, especially at this particular moment when the Hebrew University is called upon to fulfill such an important role for the Jewish youth, and that the number of members will be doubled without a doubt.

At the same meeting the executive decided to acknowledge subsidies of 500 zlotes each for two graduates of the Jewish High School, in order to allow them the possibility of furthering their studies in Jerusalem.

The executive notifies all those that are interested that the ultimate date to register for the academic year 1939-1940 at the Hebrew University is end of April.


*


Concerning Order On the “Gorka Zamkova” and in the Park

Provocations and physical injuries from the Christian street gangs against the Jews in the area of the Gorka Zamkova and the park is happening more often. People in key positions in the community must intervene wherever it is necessary in order to guarantee the safety of the Jewish visitors to the above-mentioned places, and the Jewish youth should not have their leisure time disturbed when they want to come out for some fresh air; nor should they have to return home with bloodied heads, since such incidents have indeed presented themselves.

Mention should again be made of a low-based insult directed to Jewish youth, this time by the maintenance personnel in the park, who allowed themselves to insult the Jews during the festive celebration of the “No'ar Hatzioni” of Zagłębie when they held their camp day there. Those people allowed themselves such denigrating remarks as “You were thrown out of Germany – so you came here? We will throw you out of here as well. You are not welcome here, you are superfluous here!”

Those Jews in power in Będzin, and foremost those in the City Council must take care of this issue, that the necessary measures should be taken in order to re-establish order for all the inhabitants of our city without exception.


*



Anti-Semitic “Flowers”

On the most frequented Malachowska Street, close to the square, there were found the following inscriptions with huge letters that you could not miss (in Polish): “Jews are the Enemies of Poland!”

In the anti-Semitic newspaper “Gonietz Warsawski” (literally translated The Warsaw Runner – or the Warsaw Press in a more practical sense); a letter was printed from “Zwyanzek Polski” (literally translated, The Polish Language – an extreme chauvinistic Polish-language organization), in Zagłębie, with an energetic appeal to the directors of the middle and elementary schools to have Jewish students sit on different benches in order to separate them from the Christian youth.

“We believe”, the letter said, “that you directors will fulfill our demand, in order that we should not be forced to approach the schools' youths directly” – explanations not necessary.

*


An Aliyah Fund for Zagłębie Pioneers

At different occasions, declarations have been made regarding different pioneers; their enormous activities and accomplishments in the building up of Israel, and specifically, their voluntarism, and their readiness for sacrifice, which we have, unfortunately, had the opportunity to witness all too often in the last 3 years of terror in Israel, 1936-1939.

At each assembly we speak of the heroism of these pioneers, who stand on watch to protect sites that are being developed throughout the country for our future and for the continued development and accomplishments of the Jewish people.

However, what is the attitude of the national society to our pioneers in the Zagłębie Kibbutzim, on “hachshara”, in the preparation stages of going to Israel? We must, unfortunately, observe that there is no excessive care given to our pioneers, no special treatment given to them by the Jewish people, while they prepare their Aliyah.

We should remember that these are the future heroes, who are creating the wonderful and unbelievable folk legend in Israel. These are the same pioneers that have over the last years, shown stamina in battle and perseverance, heroism, and self-sacrifice, in order to develop the legends of Chanita, Ma'aleh Hachamishi, Ramat-Hakovesh, and dozens of other wonderful settlements.

However, does the national society know, and are they aware of the difficult material, moral and social conditions in which the pioneers are forced to live while in Hachshara? The leadership of the Hachshara complains that it is almost unheard of that a member of the Hachshara would request and receive a promotion to a higher working position from their Jewish foreman! With little exception made.

Also, nothing is being done to make the Aliyah to Israel easier for these pioneers. To date, there are many pioneers in Zagłębie ready to make Aliyah to a Hachshara Kibbutz – and are unable to realize their aspiration because of lack of monetary means.

How are we to understand this? How shall such indifference on the part of our society be explained to these pioneer candidates?

A larger monetary fund must be created which shall allow all the pioneer candidates to be able to make Aliyah and to fulfill their aspirations for which they have prepared themselves for years. Let us remember and fulfill!


*


[Page 167]


The Lawyer Sztajger sues an Endeke[2] Lawyer

The famous lawyer, Sztajger (who became famous because of the trial in which he was accused of throwing a bomb on the government's President Wojciechowski – September 5, 1924 – and was acquitted), has sued the Endeke lawyer Pozowski, because the latter declared during a trial he was defending, “Sztajger, who carried out an attempt on the government's President, is walking around a free man, and my client, who committed a patriotic act, is sitting in jail”. Because of these words, Sztajger sued him in court.


*


(Remark by the editors: Magistrate Stanislaw Sztajger, moved to Będzin after the famous trial in Lemberg in 1925 (see “Beilisiada in a separate edition); and after ending his studies, he became very active as a lawyer and Zionistic activist, and perished with all the other Jews of Będzin).



Concerning the Old Cemetery on Zawale Street

In the Będzin mayor's office, a conference took place with the participation of the Jewish community and the Rabbinate, at which time the question was debated about the cemetery on Zawala Street, which does not harmonize with the aesthetic appearance of the city…

The Jewish representatives at the conference suggested a modus vivendi, which would respect the aesthetics of the city on one hand, and would preserve the religious and ethical emotions of the Będzin Jewish population on the other hand.

As if on order, both the semi-anti-Semitic and natural the all-out anti-Semitic press, began writing at length about the necessity to abolish totally the cemetery without any compromise.

We are obviously dealing with an act that is inspired and is determined to target the Jewish religious and ethical emotions. It is the task of our representatives to double their watchfulness in reference to this question, and take all precautions necessary in order to tip the local decisive factors in our favor and standpoint.


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Members of the organization “Nosei Hamitah” (carriers of the bed - literally) in 1925.
This organization was established in 1832. The members were simple people, regular folk.
Their task was the following; since the cemetery was far from the city, they took it
upon themselves to carry the deceased out to their resting place. They had their own
synagogue, where early in the morning they took up their place and began reciting psalms.



*


[Page 168]


Pre-War Moods (June 1939)

In the hall of the City Council, an assembly took place with the participation of representatives of the military and police powers, organizations, societies and a row of socially prominent personalities and the press; with the purpose of electing a committee in favor of voluntary military service.

President of the city, Mr. Izydorczik, opened the assembly and spoke with pathos about the serious political situation. “The danger of war is great” – the speaker said – “and all the citizens of the country must show their moral and, more important, their material readiness to defend the country and to strengthen our army, which will defeat heroically all the attacks of the enemy which is threatening our existence”.

The president introduces the Loan Commissioner of Zagłębie, Colonel Jan Kiawski, and shouts “Long live the Polish army!” The whole audience stands up and repeats this exclamation three times.

Colonel Kiawski said in his speech that the positive results in the number of volunteers shows that the whole nation is devoted to the cause of the country and to the government.

A committee is elected: The priest Zawodski; President Rubinlicht; the Police Commissioner; Alderman Laskowski; Jakob Gelbard; Director Icek Sztajn; Director Szpigelman; Director Sercarz; Zajanc; Drzeczyc; David Gutensztajn; Moshe Hampel; D. L. Goldsztajn; Salski; Herman Pinkus; Kempinski; Editor Lewkowicz (Ben-Amotz); Herman Cukierkandel; High School Director Dr. Ajnhorn; Dr. Kasibowicz; Dr. Rechtszaft; Dr. Weinziher and others.

The following resolutions were accepted: “The assembly with those representatives of Będzin taking part, turns to all the citizens of the city in this very serious hour, when the country is threatened by foreign enemies, that they should fulfill their patriotic obligation and support the national War Loan Cause. Every honest citizen, even the poorest amongst them, must feel his civil duty! Those who will not show loyalty towards the government and will not sign the Loan, or less than they should; they will be stamped as bad and disloyal citizens, for whom there should be no place in Poland…

(Remarks: The last words of the resolution brought above, were specifically written in different letters by the editor, in order to hint at the anti-Jewish meaning of the words “for whom there will be no place in Poland”).


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A part of the mural on the wall of the
Great Synagogue



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Translator's footnote
  1. Literal translation is “and thou shall gather” which is part of the liturgy in the prayer book. Return
  2. Endekes were a nationalistic political entity that hated the Jews and started up with them. Return


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