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[Hebrew page 86 & Yiddish page 264]

Memories of My Childhood Years

by Isser Eshel-Ichel

Translation from the Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

The Thin Meilech

If there ever was a lean, thin, emaciated Jew, it was Meilechl.

This thin Meilechl was a tailor with the relatives of Yeshaya Leib Gertner. He frequented our home. He would especially visit us in the winter to snatch a conversation with my father about some topic or another. On the evenings of Chanukah, he would join us for the eating of grieven (cracklings) that was left over from Passover.

It was warm in the house even though there was a snowstorm outside. Probably, a “gentile” hung himself in the forest. When it came time for Meilechl to go home, my father, who loved jokes, would innocently say to him: “Meilechl, do not forget to put heavy stones in your pockets, for there is a storm outside.”

Those in the house, including Meilechl, would burst out in hearty laughter.

[Hebrew page 87]

Wolf Diengott's “Heder”

Wolf Diengott was a Cohen. He was bad-tempered, quick to anger, and grumpy. When his wife Sprintza would irritate and vex him, complaining and grumbling, Rebbe Wolf would stuff his fist into his mouth, chew it, get all red in the face, and shout in Yiddish:

“Don't provoke me Shprintza, because anger is idol worship.”

She would answer. “Never mind. Idols, shmidols, just stop chewing your fist.”

And when the quarrel began the lessons stopped, and we little folk would break outside with joy, running around, moving mountains, and playing until the storm blew over.

The Cheder of Yosel Kahut

In the cheder of Yosel Kahut, if a boy misbehaved, played a trick, or hit someone, the custom was to punish him.

What was this punishment? They would flip his coat to the left, put something on his back to make it look hunched, turn his hat inside out, and put a feather on his head and a broom in his hand. His face would be covered with soot, and he would be made to sit on the oven for an hour or two.

This did the poor misbehaving boy expiate his serious crime.

Hurray, I Started to Study Chumash

In memory of my father Daniel and my mother Reizel Rachel of blessed memory

I studied in the Cheder of “Shlomo Haszower”. When I reached the age of four, the Rebbe began to prepare me for the awaited day when I would start to study Chumash.

In addition to the first section of the book of Vayikra (Leviticus) that I studied with all of it commentaries, I also had to prepare a “discussion” off by heart, and tell it over in my parents' home on the Sabbath after the sweet afternoon nap. As was customary in those days, this was a “discourse” that was appropriate for a four-year-old boy who was starting to study Chumash.

I wish now to tell you about this “discussion”.

In the afternoon, the students of Shlomo Haszower's cheder gathered in his home, wearing festive clothes, along with the belfer (the cheder assistant). I, the honoree of the party, appeared wearing a chain and my father's watch. We walked in pairs through the marketplace (Rynek) to my parents' home. The house was filled with relatives, neighbors and friends who had come to hear my “discussion” of the first chapter of Vayikra.

The “discourse” took the form of a series of questions and answer. The rabbi asked, and I answered, sitting on a high chair.

“Come to me, oh young child!”

“I am not a young child, I am already a fine youth!”

“If you are already a fine youth, what have you succeeded in learning?”

“Chumash!”

“What does Chumash mean?”

“Five.”

“What? Five bagels for a 'greitzer' (a type of coin)?”

“No, five holy books of our holy Torah.”

“Bereshit, Shmot, Vayikra, Bamidbar, Devorim” (twirling my thumb around).

“And which are you learning?”

“This” (I showed my middle finger).

“What? You are learning about your middle finger?”

“No! I am learning the third book of our holy Torah.”

“What is it called?”

“Vayikra!”

“What is the meaning of Vayikra?”

“He called.”

“Who called? Did mother call father? Perhaps the Shamash (beadle) called the Jewish community to come to the synagogue?”

“No! Vayikra – he called. Hashem – G-d. El – to, Moshe – to someone whose name was Moshe. Leemor – saying as follows. Daber – tell. El – to, Bnei – the children. Yisrael – the Jews…”

Thus did I continue to read the entire first chapter, as the people around melted with contentment [1].

When the “discourse” concluded, the Belfer (assistant) and a family member stood at the door, and every child who left received a bag of goodies. The children spread through the city, running with joy. Then the gathered guests sat down with the Rebbe to enjoy food and drink, as we celebrated the event with great importance and with an exalted spirit – that four year old Isser started to study Chumash at a propitious time, and became attached to the yoke of Torah.


[Hebrew page 88]

My Town Bolechow

by Yocheved Vinitzky (Eva Altman)

Translation from the Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

If the bonds of love and longing for the landscape of one's hometown, enveloped with a radiant bright halo, winking from the foggy past, are so powerful – then the soulful longing and anguish in the recesses of the heart is sevenfold greater regarding the memory of a hometown that has vanished and is no more; and seventy-seven fold for the memory of our dear Bolechow, a significant Jewish city, which went – with its elders, women, and children – to the fiery furnaces and the great streams of blood, through which six million of our brothers and sisters traversed, may G-d avenge their blood.

At the time that I pick up the pen to write my memories, my heart is perplexed and my emotions are stormy as I asked myself, not about what to write, but about what not to write. For there is a great deal about which to write regarding this city – but the couch is too small to spread out.

Should I write about its wonderful Jews, Torah scholars, and businessmen, who continued to weave the tradition in the mire of the exile?

Should I write of its wonderful youth, particularly of the dear youth that were close to my heart – those of the Betar group of Bolechow, about its faithful activities and events that were conducted on the stormy winter nights of the harsh and bitter exile, with golden dreams of a Jewish state, of a great future for our people – they dreamed and did not merit in witnessing the realization of their dreams, for they went on their final eternal journey with the song of “Ani Maamin” on their lips, as a sort of self-eulogy, with the splendor of faith and belief in the eternity of their people fluttering before their eyes?

Behold, they pass before my eyes as if in a play, a long, variegated procession. With whom shall I start? Whom shall I pass over? I will only bring forth a few sparks from that great flame, warm and bright, that was – and has been extinguished…

The Rebbe

Our town had its own Rebbe, Rabbi Shlomo Perlow may G-d avenge his death, the scion of holy forbears. His image comes before my eyes from the fog of childhood. He was great in Torah (he wrote a commentary on Psalms). His Hassidim streamed to him from afar to benefit from his Torah and splendorous wisdom. People would come to him primarily on the High Holy Days. We would then close our home in the village of Przebrodz and travel to Bolechow in order to worship with the Rebbe on the holy days. The Rebbe himself would conduct the services, and his sweet voice would attract the hearts. Through his words to his Hassidim, he succeeded in encouraging them and instilling in them a spirit of faith and belief despite the difficult life that pervaded in the towns of Galicia. His heart was open to listen to their worries and to advise them about all of their concerns. My father of blessed memory, Reb David Wechsler, was one of his enthusiastic Hassidim, and a frequent visitor to his court.

He did not abandon his flock until the end. He accompanied them on their final earthly journey – until the end. He was tortured to death by the Nazi enemies, and returned his soul to his G-d.

May G-d avenge his blood!

The Betar Group

Behold, the images of male and female friends float before my eyes – participating in the great dream of a free Zion that would unite the sons and daughters of all groups and strata – from the wealthy homes and the houses of the poor, in accordance with the words of the song: “With us is the worker, burgher, and farmer, attracted to the common front.”

The group on “The Road of the Shoemakers” was small and discrete – but at night it turned into an enchanted palace that contained everything – vision, scenery, imagination, and youthful enthusiasm. Hebrew classes were interspersed with study of the homeland, episodes in the history of Zionism with lessons in training practice. On top of everything – there was a Hachsharah farm [2], which was a required hallway to the salon of the homeland. Few were they who merited

{Photo page 90 top: Betar.}

{Photo page 90 bottom: Betar.}

to pass through the hallway and enter the salon… They partook of the bitter lot of Polish Jewry, of whose salvation they had dreamt all of their life, and those who did merit – died the death of the brave with weapons in the hand, in forests, fighting the Nazi enemy, avenging their children, and there were many victims…

Among the Wolf-like Men

Our family tasted the taste of being the lone Jewish family in a village of Ukrainian gentiles. Father owned the only store in the town, from which we earned our income. I will never forget that frightful night, at midnight, when there was a sound of the knock on the door.
“Who is there?” asked my father.
When father opened the door, he was immediately stabbed in the face and started bleeding. Twelve masked hooligans burst into the house. Some of them stood guard over myself, my mother, and the maid, with revolvers pointed to our heads. “If you open your mouths – your blood is upon your head”, they said, as their friends emptied the house of money, jewelry, etc. I attempted to jump out of the window to call for help, but they grabbed me and beat me over the face. “One more such attempt and we will kill you!” they said. After they finished their job, they threatened, “If you take one step, we will kill you. We will be guarding outside.”

The police searched and investigated for two weeks until it found the head of the band of thieves, who refused to reveal the names of his accomplices in crime.

“Wait, wait”, he threatened father after he was sentenced to five years in jail, “I will get out of jail and settle accounts with you!”
He was not able to settle accounts. I made aliya to the Land two years after that, and brought my parents three years later.

However, the gentiles “settled” the “accounts” with the rest of our family – my sister, and all of my relatives, friends and acquaintances, who ascended heavenward in fire.

My their souls be bound up in the bonds of the holy and brave, who through their deaths bequeathed to us life and the assurance of the life of honor for coming generations.


[Hebrew page 91]

The Wedding of Rabbi Perlow's Daughter

by Dvora Ichel-Adler, Kvutzat Kiryat-Anavim

Translation from the Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

More than a quarter of a century has passed since the celebration of the wedding of Rabbi Perlow's daughter took place in Bolechow.

Obviously, this long period of time has gnawed at my memory, but I will nevertheless attempt to describe briefly my personal experience, and the general impression that this event left upon the population in our town.

The “wedding week” began on Thursday. Festivity and a spirit of joy rested on Bolechow and enveloped everything.

That day, the groom arrived from Warsaw. Young and old – also non-Jews including the policeman Jerzy Bilinski, streamed to the railway station to greet him.

Bahn Gasse (the street leading to the railway station) was bustling with a crowd of people.

Some by train, some on foot, some dressed up, crowds streamed to the railway station. The landscape of the street changed. Everyone wanted to see the groom's family who arrived from Warsaw and from various cities and towns. The whole community of Hassidim of our Rebbe arrived in a special train car. Various types of personalities were among the arrivals – rabbis, children of rabbis of previous generations, some wearing kolpacks and some wearing barzulkes, all in fancy clothes with their faces exuding nobility. Everything exuded honor and glory. All around, there was a sublime spirit. Here and there, there were the peaked caps that typified the Jews of Congress Poland.

With great feeling and extra pomp, accompanied by music, the crowd of relatives led the groom to the house of the Rebbe.

The many guests were accommodated in the houses of the Hassidim, friends and neighbors of the rabbi. A large “shalas” [3] was built in the courtyard of the Rebbe, and nobody said that there was not enough room.

For an entire week, the onlookers experienced joy, pleasant melodies, dancing, and food provided by butchers and served by waiters.

The wedding ceremony took place in the courtyard of the Rebbe during the day on Friday, accompanied by musicians. Echoes of the sounds of joy, mirth and glee reverberated through the town: “The sound of joy and gladness, the voice of the bride and the groom” [4].

Bolechow, could you have imagined that you would no longer exist on the face of the earth? Indeed, did you preserve anything from the proper hour of joy and gladness? For when the satanic Holocaust arrived, full of agony and suffering, you added a drop to the sea of blood and tears.

You did not lead your sons and daughters to the wedding canopy.


[Hebrew page 92 & Yiddish page 267]

The Kapliczka Church

by Sima Pohoriles (Shindler) [5]

Translation from the Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

On the route to Stryj, in the forest to the left, was the church. Grandfather told me thus: A Jewish woman once was coming home on the eve of the Sabbath. The sun was setting, and it would be too late for candle lighting. What did the woman do? She took two candles, lit them, and continued on her way.

A farmer and his son stood from afar and saw the lit candles. They quickly distanced themselves from the place. The told the farmers that they had seen the “Holy Mother” from afar, with the two burning candles. The rumor took on wings and spread. The farmer and his son were brought to Stryj to be interrogated.

The Jews were silent…

The place was sanctified in the eyes of the gentiles.

Epilogue: When pilgrims came and went to the monastery, they would turn to this church to draw water from the holy spring beside it.


[Yiddish page 267]

The Wedding at the Russian Rebbe's

by Dvora Ichel-Adler of Kiryat Anavim [6]

A full quarter of a century has passed since our rabbi, Rabbi Shomo Perlov, married off his daughter. Obviously, the long time that elapsed has blurred my memory. Nevertheless, I wish to write about it, for the wedding was an important event for the entire town, as well as for myself in particular.

On Thursday, the groom and his relatives arrived from Warsaw in a special carriage. Young and old, children and adults, even non-Jews such as the policeman Jerzy Bilinski, streamed en masse to the train station to greet the groom. Dressed in festive garb, some by foot, some by wagon, with the appearance of a Cossack [7], like a wave rolling down the mountain – thus did the people crowd in to the railroad station. The train is arriving!

“Fine Jews” in Reszvelkes, kapotes, kolpacks, “silken youth”, rabbis from the previous generation, with the appearance of spiritual aristocracy beaming from their faces, The town took on the ambience of the “extra soul” [8]. The joyous mass of thousands of people from Warsaw and other places accompanied the groom to the Rebbe's house with song, dance and musical instruments.

The Rebbe's Hassidim, neighbors and acquaintances provided accommodations for the guests. A large shalas (tent or canopy) was built in the courtyard of the Rebbe, so that nobody would be lacking space. The ceremonies continued for an entire week. Each day, Hassidim from a different city celebrated the wedding [9]. The Jews of Bolechow had a great deal of pleasure watching all the customs, and, above all, fulfilling the commandment of gladdening the bride and groom.

Bolechow, did you imagine that you would not exist for much longer?

Bolechow my town, did you know that the cruel executioners would turn you into a heap of rubble?

Yes, my town, your daughters, sons and grandchildren were to have no more weddings.

Your drop was added into the sea of tears and blood.


[Hebrew page 93 & Yiddish page 268]

My Path to Zionism

by Meir Gottesman

Translation from the Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

During my early youth, when the Zionist youth was still in its early development, it was considered “non-kosher” by the orthodox zealots.

In those days, a Zionist was considered as a “transgressor” in their eyes. In their opinion, it was forbidden to precipitate the end by actual deeds. We were obligated to await the coming of the Messiah, and nothing further.

From this perspective, Dr. Herzl of blessed memory was a thorn in their eyes. Their fundamental principle was, “If G-d does not build a house, the workers toil in vain” [10].

My father of blessed memory forbade me all contact with the “transgressors”. Day and night, he warned me not to enter into their confidence, for I might fall into “bad company”.

I recall that during the times of the elections to the Austrian parliament, Zionist activists approached my father to my father to urge him to vote for Dr. Zipper. Of course, their efforts were in vain.

The Zionist “Maccabee” movement headquarters was across from my parents' house. Once, as I was playing with children, I approached the door of Maccabee. My father saw this and beat me soundly in his burning anger, as he threatened me, “I will starve you and expel you from my home if I catch you in your transgression a second time.”

This was the prime factor that kept me from joining the Zionists, and attracted me like a charm to the ranks of the “apikorsim” [11].

As I got older, I would secretly enter Maccabee, and I became a member at the time of the Balfour Declaration [12].

From that time, I donated to the Jewish National Fund, purchased the shekel [13], and participated in the festive gatherings that were arranged by the Zionists in my town.


[Hebrew page 93 & Yiddish page 269]

Memories from my Childhood (5693 / 1933)

by Ada Machvov-Berger

Translation from the Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

When I was five years old, my mother took me and said, “Come my daughter, the time has come to go to school”. She led me to the house of Freda Brenner on Kilinskaga Street, near my house.

{Photo page 94 top: The orphanage (Ochronka).}

{Photo page 94 bottom: A meeting with Fishel Werber.}

That house was once a grocery store. Its windows were broken, and a pillow had been placed in one of the windows to prevent the harsh cold from entering.

As I entered the cheder, I was met by a gaze of pity and surprise. This was my first teacher, Rachel Reiss, now Hendel.

My mother of blessed memory pleaded with her to allow me to stay, not as a student, but rather just to remain in the class. She refused, and said, “She is still too young, and I have no room for girls of her age.” To my ill luck, there was no kindergarten then.

Mother sighed bitterly and left, but I remained within the walls of the cheder. A desire was awakened within my heart to remain there no matter what. The picture book in the teacher's hands, which she raised up to show the class, attracted me. I was the only one who put up my hand to answer the questions. When the teacher saw this, she immediately agreed to accept me.

However, my joy was not for long, for the shelter was moved to Ruski-Bolechow near Yankele Mapes, far from my house. I often rolled along the slippery road that was covered with ice. When I reached the shelter, I put wood onto the fire, for the school had no janitor. The wood, which was provided by the “leader” of the city, Yeshaya Gripel, heated the cheder.

There was no parents' committee. The overseer of the institution, Eli Elendman, concerned himself with everything, as a father to his home. He distributed tasks to the grown girls. The teacher was Rachel Reiss, the gym teacher was Chaika Halperin, the music teacher was Hinda Delman. Eli also concerned himself with providing food and clothing to the needy children, and even toys and recreational items.

We once performed “Tofilei Totorito” in the Sokol auditorium. The performance was crowned with success, and the income was donated to the benefit of the public kitchen. The women of Bolechow would work in that kitchen on a voluntary basis. They cooked, served the food, etc.

The first kitchen was opened on Wiziltir Street. After words of dedication and speeches, the children were given their first meal, rice and milk.


[Yiddish page 271]

From the Kloiz to Israel

by Yosef Tishenkel

Translation from the Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

The Chevra Tehillim Kloiz was on the road to Ruski Bolechow.

The house belonged to a Bolechow family in Vienna, David and Beila Wohl.

For many years, the prime activists and gabbaim were Itzikl Weilgot (the rope maker) and Baruch Rotter, who was also the gabbai of the Meir Baal Haness charity boxes. Itzikl made his way to the Eretz Yisrael. His sister settled in Cairo and used to visit Bolechow. She was referred to as “The Egyptian”.

There in the kloiz, I along with a few cheder and schoolboys often discussed forming a youth organization, so that we would not become like the adults of the kloiz.

Over a game of dominoes at the home of my friend Yitzchak Wolf, we decided to found a Zionist youth group. We asked our parents for a bit of money, and we rented an attic room from Chaim Beriche.

We collected from among the members a half-broken table, a 2-½ foot long bench, and a few pictures for the wall.

A short time later, we invited two veteran Zionists who took interest in us, Mrs. Itta Krebs (Shalom Reisler's daughter) and Getzel Weisbard (Izi Prive's son) to talk to us.

In his first lecture Mr. Weisbard clarified to us what we should be striving for. Then Mrs. Krebs discussed with us some educational problems in our plans to promote aliya to the Eretz Yisrael.

Following their suggestion, we began to call ourselves by the name Tzeirei Zion (Young Zion).

We invited many young people to our meetings and discussions, including those who already belonged to Hashomer Hatzair. A youth by the name of Shlomele Weitzner gave much of his free time to us. Unfortunately, he suddenly became ill with dysentery, and died young.

We continued our work with sadness and pain. Thenumber of members grew. We invited various older members to conduct activities and discussions. We also began to study Hebrew.

In a discussion with the Hebrew teachers Rachel Reiss and Tova Elendman, they suggested that we change our name to Hechalutz Hatzair.

We were no longer able to remain in the small, cramped attic room. In order to be able to rent a larger place, a few of our members decided to work in a tannery a few days a week. We were able to pay our rent and expenses from the proceeds.

We then got in touch with the central Hechalutz headquarters in Lemberg (Lwow). Then, we all registered with them. We visited a member of the central organization, who gave us directions regarding the upcoming work.

A little later, we founded a committee called Ezra Lemaan Hechalutz (Assistance for the Pioneers), which took part in the activities of the Keren Kayemet (Jewish National Fund) committee, in the Eretz Yisrael Workers' League, and the like. The Hechalutz headquarters demanded that each of us learn a trade, so that we would be productive participants in the upbuilding of the Land when we arrive there.

The Hechalutz movement developed well. Its members went to Hachshara (activities for preparation to aliya). Among them were the member Yitzchak Wolf, who unfortunately died young with his goal unrealized.

{Photo page 273 top: Hitachdut-Gordonia.}

{Photo page 273 bottom: A group of Chalutzim.}

{Photo page 274 top: The Union of the Hitachdut and Poalei Zion groups.}

{Photo page 274 bottom: Hitachdut-Gordonia.}

The dedicated chalutz Shimon Tennenbaum, who worked day and night for the benefit of the public despite his poor state of health, also died suddenly.

We will always recall their dedication. May their souls be bound in the bonds of eternal life.

A while later, chalutzim from other cities began to come to our city for Hachshara. They were employed for the most part in the ale factory of the Meisels family. The local Zionist organization supported them with credit, etc.

The member Moshe Hausman (Eshel) was very active in educational and cultural activities of the youth movement. He never declined to become involved in any responsible, public work. He set up educational courses and interceded with the masters of the studying youth that they be freed from their work one hour earlier so that they would be able to participate in the evening courses.

At the same time, a Chalutz group made aliya.

Gordonia was one branch of the youth movement. Its chief activist was Feivel Schindler.

Government politics led to persecutions and a critical material situation. It was with great difficulty that we raised the funds needed to pay the expenses of the group.

Two people from Bolechow became energetic and dedicated members: Yitzchak Hirshhaut and Ben-Zion Rottenberg. They succeeded in bringing Gordonia to life, and with the passage of time, they founded “The United Poalei Zion”, and “The United Groups”. Many new forces were attracted, which was evident in the work of Keren Kayemet LeYisrael, Keren Hayesod, Ezra, and the League of Workers of the Eretz Yisrael, etc.

At a regional convention at Synowocko near Skole, we, together with the groups from Stryj, Drohobycz, Boryslaw, and Skole, developed a comprehensive plan of action. We mainly concerned ourselves with Hachshara locations for chalutzim.

It is worthwhile to point out that, despite the differences of opinion among the various Zionist organization and movements, we conducted ourselves with tolerance, and never denigrated each other.

In 1932, we succeeded in organizing for the chalutzim of Bolechow and other places many workplaces in the tanneries, factories, sawmills, etc. Until they made aliya in 1933, their influence in the town was quite noticeable [14].

That same year, a “Haoved” group was founded from among the members of the workers' circle. A number of them succeeded in making aliya in the years 1934-1935.

The rest perished along with all the other victims of the Hitlerite murderers. May G-d avenge their blood.

{Photo page 276 top: Gordonia.}

{Photo page 276 bottom: The Hitachdut regional convention in Synowocko.}

{Photo page 277 top: Hechalutz.}

{Photo page 277 bottom: Dramatic club.}


[Hebrew page 95 & Yiddish page 283]

“Hanoar Hatzioni” in Bolechow

by Aryeh Reichman [15]

Translation from the Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

In mid 1930s a branch of "Hanoar Hatzioni" came into existence. The branch developed quickly and in a short time the majority of young boys and girls in Bolechow joined its ranks.

As in other youth movements, we learned Hebrew, history and especially the history of Zionism.

Our aim was to broaden the horizons of our comrades through educational classes, debates and literary discussions, etc.

{Photo page 96 top: The Achva Hachsharah.”}

{Photo page 97 bottom: Achva.}

“Hanoar HaTsioni” was a synthesis of national and humanitarian elements. In accordance with Professor M. Buber, we dreamed that the freedom of the Jewish people in our homeland would save all humanity from moral decline.

Together with other Zionist youth movements, we slowly came to dominate life in the Jewish Bolechow. On the Sabbath we arranged excursions to the accompaniment of Hebrew and Zionist songs. On national holidays, we had impressive celebrations. On Purim, bands whose members were dressed up in nationalist costumed passed through the streets of the town in song and dance.

Locked up in our own world, we prepared to continue in the Land. [16]

The Russians entered the city in September 1939. A few days after the conquest, we were asked to give over the keys to the headquarters and its property. After the first blow, organizational activity began once again slowly and in secret. We conducted meetings in private homes to welcome the Sabbath, to mark national holidays. That year, we were certain that the war would pass over quickly, and that we would be able to realize our desires.

I was drafted to the Red Army. In the many letters that I received, there were innuendoes about the continuation of the educational, Zionist activity, and the strong faith that was not broken despite the difficult circumstances. After that came the Nazi conquest and the destruction of the city.

We were 120 boys and girls in the chapter at the outset of the war. Only 3 survived.


[Hebrew page 97]

The “Hashomer Hatzair” Chapter from 1920-1930

by Isser Eshel (Ichel), Kiryat Ata

Translation from the Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

The first Shomrim [17] made aliya in 1920. Crowds of people accompanied them to the train station with joy and special festivity.

The first letters that arrived from them to Bolechow testified to the difficulties in acclimatization and work conditions. Despair overtook those who were about to make aliya. The chapter maintained itself for a year and then disbanded.

The chapter no longer existed as a separate body, but individuals and groups of its former members became involved with Zionist and communal work in the city.

The lovely library turned into a communal library. After some moving around, it became headquartered in the office of the school of which Dogilowski was principal. This became a meeting place for many members of the chapter. Its leadership was drawn from members of the chapter. They developed it and raised the level of the library.

The members worked in many areas:

For the leadership of Jewish National Fund, they collected and emptied charity boxes; for the Keren HaYesod they canvassed many groups; for “Ezra”, an organization that helped those of meager means when made aliya to the Land. They were involved in the founding and the leadership of an evening school for the study of Hebrew. They organized celebrations, parties and plays by amateur troupes, the income of which was dedicated to the funds.

{Photo page 98 top: Hashomer Hatzair.}

{Photo page 98 bottom: Hashomer Hatzair.}

{Photo page 98 top: Hashomer Hatzair 1925.}

{Photo page 98 bottom: Hashomer Hatzair.}

They were involved in the election campaign for the Polish Sejm; Zionist activity prior to the elections to the city council; the organization of a garden party in the public gardens; and in the founding of the Yad Charutzim workers' organization.

In order to maintain contact, the members of the chapter would meet in the home of the Sheps sisters or in the civic garden. They were engaged in song. Some of the members completed their schooling in Poland or outside of Poland. The gymnasium students traveled to Stryj each morning.

It is appropriate to mention Shaika Zeiman. He was a jolly, intelligent boy who possessed organizational talent. He was a member of the chapter in Stryj. He organized several of our young people into a group.

We rented a room in the old match factory on the way to Hosiv. We decorated it and set it up in a manner fitting for study, recreation and games. We turned it into a pleasant place.

We lit a bonfire outside the city on Sabbaths and festivals, and lived our life secretly. The chapter was reconstructed thanks to the efforts of Shaika Zeiman. It moved to the center of the city and established links with the nearby chapters in the region, with the central leadership in Lwow, and with the regional leadership. They took part in summer retreats, summer vacations, leadership retreats – in short, in all activities of the movement.

Once again, you could see in our city boys and girls, members of Hashomer, in their uniforms, emptying boxes, arranging role calls, parades, and excursions. We would accompany the members who lived in Salina home with song.

The community of the chapter was from among the workers. There were times when the chapter attracted the finest of the youth. The older members studied trades such as locksmithing, carpentry, plumbing, blacksmithing, etc. The evenings were dedicated to the study of Bible, history, Hebrew, and the Jewish and general workers' movement.

We would conduct stormy debates until past midnight. There were issues that engaged the world of the workers, the improvement of the work conditions, justice, problems with the Kibbutz, the group, the Moshav, A. D. Gordon and his teachings, and Borochov. We experienced and suffered the “pangs of the world” (Weltschmertz).

The group was particularly bustling on Saturday nights, on holidays, as the sounds of song and dance broke forth.

The elder members prepared themselves with agricultural Hachsharah.

The Hashomer Hatzair alumnae who made aliya were centered in two Galician Kibbutzim: Kibbutz Hashomer Hatzair and its Moshav in Nes Ziona, and Kibbutz Hashomer Hatzair Gimel in Bat Galim.

The chapter was still functioning when I made aliya in 1930, and I remained in contact with it for a long time.


[Hebrew page 101 & Yiddish page 285]

Tanneries in Bolechow

by Michael Schneeweiss

We distance carcasses, graves and tanneries 50 cubits from the city. One only makes a tannery east of a city.
Baba Batra 25a [18]

[Yiddish translation]


Translator's Footnotes:

  1. The Hebrew / Yiddish word “Nachas” – literally “contentment”, but has nuances that do not translate well. Return
  2. Hachsharah is a training session for aliya, with a focus on farming skills. Return
  3. I am not sure of the meaning of this word, but it seems to imply a large tent or canopy. Return
  4. A quote from the wedding benedictions. Return
  5. A Kapliczka is not actually a church, but rather a commemorative altar in the Polish countryside, that is constructed as evidence that someone has seen a heavenly sign. Return
  6. The Hebrew on page 91 is evidently a slightly abridged translation from this Yiddish section. I believe that the Yiddish would have been the original. Return
  7. The implication is probably “with the appearance of a Cossack invasion”. Return
  8. According to Jewish tradition, a Jew obtains an “extra soul” on the Sabbath. Return
  9. A “Sheva Brachot” ceremony, where the wedding blessings are recited after a festive meal, takes place for the seven days following a wedding. Return
  10. Psalm 127. Return
  11. Heretics. The Hebrew term comes from the name of the Greek philosopher Epicurus. Return
  12. 1917. Return
  13. The token of membership in the Zionist movement. Return
  14. I believe that this sentence refers back to the two individuals mentioned four paragraphs earlier Return
  15. Translated in full from the Hebrew, although the analogous section appears in the Yiddish, due to a few additional paragraphs appearing in the Hebrew. I used the translation from the Yiddish, with minor alterations to match the Hebrew idiom, for the equivalent parts. Return
  16. This is the end of the part that was equivalent with the Yiddish translation. Return
  17. Members of Hashomer Hatzair. Return
  18. This Mishnaic quote from Tractate Baba Batra introduces this Hebrew segment. Aside from the quote, the Hebrew and Yiddish are essentially the same, with minor differences. Return
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