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[Yiddish page 278]

Memories

by Abraham Weber

Translated from Yiddish by Judie Goldstein

After the Balfour Declaration, Jewish youth throughout the world organized in pioneer movements and some of them, by a variety of means, made aliyah [immigrated to Israel].

The youth who remained behind were the mainstay of Zionist cultural and community life in the shtetl until its destruction.

Every Sabbath the representatives of all the parties gathered at the "Maccabee" [Zionist sports club] Union where they held their weekly meeting of KKL [Keren Kayemet l'Israel, the Jewish National Fund]. At the KKL meeting they run up against the left and fanatical orthodox circles.

To the Zionist consciousness a lot had carried the election to the Sejm [Polish parliament] and Senate, municipal government, Kultusgemeinde [Jewish Community Council] and as representatives to Zionist congresses.

Five parties participated in the congresses: General Zionist, Revisionist [militant Zionist group], Labor, HaShomer HaTsair and Mizrahi [Zionist party for observant Jews].

Middle-class and working class young adults belonged to "Hitahdut"; [Labor Party]. The party worked on a wide scope in various fields. Those in the "Gordonia" organization were given help by the Labor Party so they could go to Hakhshara [Zionist agricultural training center] in the Bolekhov factories and work places or in other cities in Poland.

The activists in the "Hitadut" movement were Herschaut (Ortman's son-in-law) and Ben Tzion Rotenberg (Hirsch Mordchai Elendman's son-in-law). Thanks to their energy and enthusiasm for the party and Zionism in general, they were delegates at various institutions. They left their mark on every public effort.

The Revisionist ranks were organized as follows: adults in "Hatza'r", the young workers and students in "Massadah". The youngest were sent to "Betar". Thanks to comrade D. Rapaport (Eli Weitzner's son-in-law) the movement grew. They had interesting programs and summer camps that were also used for military exercises (along the model of P. W.).

Besides developing cultural activities, there were also Hebrew classes under the direction of Hinde Delman. The mainstay of most Zionist activities was Yosali Shindler hy'd [Hashem Yinkoym Domoy, may the Lord avenge his blood] (Yitzhak Shindler's son). Because of his noble character and devotion as a volunteer, all the comrades were drawn to him and had great respect for him. Without his advice nothing important would get done. He wanted very badly to make aliyah. But unfortunately he never had the chance. He was murdered as a martyr.

[Yiddish page 279]

Photograph
Betar

Photograph
Betar

[Yiddish page 280]

"HaShomer HaTsair" [Zionist group, no political affiliation] and "HaHalutz" [pioneer movement belonging to Poalei Zion] members were the best youngsters in the city. They were brought up in the spirit of the scouts and socialist ideas. They were involved in every important Zionist activity in the shtetl, staring with teaching Hebrew, collecting money for the Zionist funds, Hakhshara through to aliyah. The majority of them had the honor to make aliyah. Their pride and joy was the library that was used by everyone, regardless of their affiliation.

Some of the HaShomer HaTsair comrades unfortunately went over to the extreme left wing.

The living spirit of the HaHalutz was Shimon Tenenbaum who with all his strength and devotion organized the Hakhshara locations for various cities in Galicia. But, unfortunately he died very young.

The head of "Mizrahi" activities was the scholar, [8 Hebrew words], Reb [Mr.] Chaim Kremer z'l [zeykher livrokhe, may his memory be blessed]. In order to wake the pious Jews from their indifference, every Friday afternoon he taught a chapter of the Pentateuch at his home. They came from all corners of the city, young and old, to attend his lessons. Rain, wind, snow, nothing could keep the people from going to hear Torah from Reb Chaim Kremer. Given the opportunity, he also lectured on world affairs, with enthusiasm about life in Israel and informed us about the political situation in Israel.

These lessons, full of Torah and wisdom, had a great influence on the youth, and made it easier for them to do their work collecting for the national funds. The Orthodox circles had because of him ceased their persecution of us.

The rabbi, Reb [Mr.] Mendeli Landau hy'd served "Mizrahi" with advice and deeds, as well as other Zionist youth movements. Officially he should not have been present because of the government and also because opposing "Agudat Israel" [against Zionism and based on absolute rule of the Torah] always stirred them up against him. All of us profited from his Torah and wisdom.

The above mentioned library was in the Jewish school. The director, Y. Dogilevski z'l, contributed to its development. Thanks to him it was masterfully organized.

Eli Elendman (Eli Boch) developed the Hebrew-Yiddish section. His knowledge and skillfulness amazed all of us, especially his ability to write so quickly with his left hand.

An important factor in public life was the artisan union "Yad Harutzim" [Hand of the Diligent Men]. Its comrades participated in all Zionist and community affairs.

[Yiddish page 281]

Photograph
Gathering of HaHalutz Hatza'r

Photograph
Betar

[Yiddish page 282]

Photograph
Betar

Photograph
"Yad Harutzim"

[Yiddish page 283]

During elections they would present their own independent list with its best activists: Shmuel Valik, Zelman Kesler, Shmuel Yeger, Wolf Hofman, Zishe Gertner and so forth.

Once before the municipal elections, their top candiate Shmu Valik was present at a meeting in the Polish meeting halls on behalf of "Yad Harutzim" Saturday afternoon wearing a straymel with 17 shpitzn [points of fur] and began his speech with the words: "I, as the shpitzncandidat [top candidate]…" Since then he was called the shpitzencandidat.

Hanukah and Purim and so forth they gave lovely presentations and the people were always well entertained and as a matter of course the material success was always assured.

[Yiddish page 283]

“Zionist Youth” in Bolekhov

by Arie Reichman

Translated from Yiddish by Judie Goldstein

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

As in other youth movements, we learned Hebrew, history and especially the developing history of Zionism. Our aim was to broaden the horizons of our comrades through educational classes, debates and literary discussions, etc.

"Hanoar HaTsioni" was a synthesis of national and humanitarian elements.

According to Professor M. Buber, we dreamed and hoped for the freedom of the Jewish people in a reconstituted homeland, on its own land and that declining humanity and moral spirit would be revived.

Together with other Zionist youth movements slowly, we dominated Jewish life in the shtetl. On the Sabbath and holidays we sang Hebrew songs and carried out impressive presentations. For example, during Purim we presented for the nationalists and in the streets singing and dancing marches.

Locked in our world, we expanded life in our country. [Yiddish page 284]

Photograph
Hanoar Hatsioni 1938
On the way to a summer camp

Photograph
"Ahava?"

[Yiddish page 285]

The Tanners

“Di Garbn”

by Michael (Mekh) Schneveys

Translated from Yiddish by Susannah R. Juni

One of the principal branches of industry in our town was the tanners. The largest part of them was owned by Jews. The agricultural region and the developed livestock farming supplied the rawhide. Apart from that, the great big rich Smerekine in Dembina [Debina] Woods supplied the bark, which contains a large percentage of the composition of the tanning substance.

Thanks to the tanning industry, a lamb and a camel-factory developed in connection with it, as also did the serst [hair from the hide] business.

Already in the beginning of the 19th century, tanneries existed in the little town on a small scale, all as a cottage industry. Furthermore, the first big leather factory was founded by Yisroel-Leyb Hauptman, who was also one of the first Jewish mayors. He was also one of the founders of the Chamber of Commerce in Lemberg. It’s worth mentioning that in the time when the Kaiser Franz Yosef the First came hunting in our region (that's where the name comes from "Kaiser-Aykhe – Kaiser Oak, on the way to Lisavits) he was mkabules-ponim [he represented the town in welcoming him].

The Dervinte Factory actually became founded in 1814, as a Christian firm because [persuant to] the then contemporary law, Jews were not allowed to occupy themselves with industry. When in 1844 they lifted off that law, the firm became known as: The Kaiser and the Royal Privileged Leather Factory Yisroel Hauptman and Co. – The subsequent owners of the firm were: Moyshele Hauptman, Arie Goldschlag, and their descendants.

The firm was in its time the only one in town, which enjoyed credit from the "Austro-Hungarian Bank" in Lemberg. Years later, other factories arose, like: Gershon Kurtser (his descendants – Avramele Kurtser and Avramtsi Kohn), Rechter, Kurts and Eisenstein, Weissbart and Frey, Kimmel, Kaufman, Reizle and also two Christians – the German Pfeifer and the Polish Shlatshits Lubatshtevski.

After the First World War a lot of tanneries became founded, T. A. Feder, Rotfeld, Adler, Gottesman, Roth, Karchin, and others. Apart from that, two modern factories of Chaim Frisch, and the Landes Brothers, which manufactured soles and goat leather.

The tanneries and those with connected trades provided employment to a large portion of the population, both as workers and also as brokers of hides, finished leather, merchants of bark, horns, tallow, soap etc.

Primarily they manufactured in the tanneries two types of leather: cowhide and sole-leather. They sold the cowhides for uppers for shoes, which shouldn't leak in the seams in wintertime, as opposed to soles of hadekes.[1]

Several of the above mentioned factories supplied leather to the Austrian and later the Polish military. Jews worked in most of the tanneries. One had to labor very hard, especially because no machines existed and everything had to be completed by hand. In spite of that, here one must refute the goyishe charges that the Jews are lazy and not capable of hard physical labor.

It's interesting to note that there was a special minyon of the tannery workers in which the old preparer, a Talmud-lehokhum [learned] Jew, Reb Yankl Schnee, taught the tanners each Shabos or Friday night a blat ayen-yankev [Yiddish page from "Eye of Jacob," a religious book].

In the year 1941 during the Soviet regime, they nationalized all of the tanneries. And when the Nazi murderers destroyed our town, they murdered the owners and the workers from all of the operations, and so made an end to such a useful trade in the town that was so dear to all of us.

In "HaMagid" from the year 1878, issue 44 from November 13, page 379-380 is a correpondence from a Drohobycz [the Galician town now known as Drogobych] Jew about his trips in a lot of countries. He was also at a trade show in Paris. There he became interested in the origin of Galician Jews. He wrote there: "I heard that they say that they manufacture splendidly beautiful colored leather in the factory of my in-laws, the well known gevirim [wealthy people], the likeable and God-fearing brothers mu-h Israel-Lieb and Reb Notar Hauptman n-r from the town of Bolekhov. The factory was called "Israel Hauptman and Company." They received an award at the arrival of the show in Vienna and later in Kroke [Krakow].

[Yiddish page 106 & 287]

The Printing Shop

by I. B. M.

Translated from Yiddish by Judie Goldstein

In memory of my eldest brother Israel Joel hy'd

The only printing shop in the shtetl started on a small scale until our printed material went to all the cities in the area, even Stanislov.

We worked it virtually by ourselves: a father and his seven children. All together we built and developed it. The printing shop of my father, Hersch Mordchai Elendman z'l, was founded in 1884 and was located on Station Street.

Whoever came to or left the shtetl went by the print shop. A lot of good friends would come daily to the shop. The seven children had sixty friends.

There were always two standing at the machine or the font case: a typesetter, the printer and his friend. These friends would come not really to place orders, but only to talk to Israel Joel, Shimon, Yantsi, Rebtsi, Eli, Gitele and Taubele.

The social, cultural and private life of the shtetl was reflected in the print shop. In the printing shop was everything that happened in the houses of study, synagogues, charitable institutions, unions and the like.

It heard "betrothals", a wedding, a circumcision, without an invitation?

Even women giving birth were "clients" because so long as she lying in the delivery bed, in each corner of the room there were four childbirth notes hanging. These were "amulets" against devils and ghosts, may the merciful God save us! The women giving birth, poor things, did not understand these "amulets" of course. Also the "ketubah" [Jewish marriage contract] was not clear to the brides. Apparently it is better this way…

[Yiddish page 288]

From Tishri to Tishri [first month of the Jewish year, from one year to the next] the print shop was swarmed, just like a beehive.

Before the elections for the Jewish Community Council, Town Council and so forth, there was a great tumult – The candidate lists were a closely kept secret. During the printing, party members stood "watch", even though this was excessive. They did this so that none of us God forbid would betray the "secrets in the room".

Landowners, priests, teachers and so forth were constantly in contact with the business.

Years ago, before there was electricity, the gentile Jasz turned the wheel of the machine by hand. He worked for us for a long time. This is one of his "witticisms": "tea without margarine does not vote". Well, so be it!

Also yearly events were reflected in the print shop:
Here comes Passover and the "proclamation" demanding people to give "wheat money" [given to poor people to buy matzah]. During the summer the billboards for festivals and performances in "Sokul" Hall. Before and during the Days of Awe [from New Year to the Day of Atonement] was "high season": people ordered masses of custom printed New Year greeting cards, also ready to sell [mass produced].

On the table in the shop were little boxes with greeting cards of all kinds: see! There is a bird; in its mouth "Happy New Year". Look! There is a basket of roses bringing you "Leshona toyve tikoseyvu" [may you be inscribed for a good year]. Two hands sending forth "peace" and wishing you a year of blessings. Perhaps you would like a "Holy Ark". Here the little doors open and a Torah scroll looks out! One card is plain and the other bronzed. One is smooth and the other cropped, zigzag. In short, whatever your heart desires you can get.

Were the thousands of blessings fulfilled?…

To close, an oddity:

The peasants from the area would come to the market place in the shtetl on Mondays. Those who knew how to read would confuse "drukarnia" [print shop] with "drogeria" [pharmacy] and coming into the print shop they wanted a mercury ointment for their boils (it is not for us to say). Often they would get excited because their wish was not realized.

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Translator's note:
  1. According to Alex Dunai in Lviv, Ukraine, the word hadekes sounds similar both in Polish and Ukrainian: (hodaky). In Polish they write "chodaki". It's a kind of peasants' leather shoes, often with turned up short sharp toe-caps. They were very common in Galicia and especially in the Carpathians. I have seen a pair of hadekes recently at the artisans market in Yaremche, a little town in the Carpathians,40 miles from Stanislawow. Also in the old times peasants were wearing hadekes made from wood, cheaper ones. Both of these articles were used especially by the rustic non-Jewish population.  Return


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