Elul 25, 5758, 16.9.1998
Written by daughter Ada Holtzman and recited at the funeral
It is hard for me to eulogise you, here, in front of your open grave, and all of us who loved you find hard to believe that the bitter premature day has come - even if the last days we knew that the situation was hopeless - and that we are leading you on your last journey. Here, under the ancient olive tree, you will sleep your eternal sleep at the side of our beloved mother Rywcia (Rivka).
It was your last wish to be buried here, on the land of Kibbutz Evron, of which you were one of the founders and which you always served with extreme faithfulness and devotion for so many years. And all that you have ever done, be it manual work or later, party matters, you did with modesty and honestly, fully believing that this was the right way, that this was the realization of the pioneering spirit which you also implanted into hundreds of young enthusiast Jewish people back in Poland, where you were born. You dedicated your best years, energy and resources to the Shomer Hatzair movement, to your party M.P.M. (The United Workers Party) and to Kibbutz Evron.
You were born on May 14, 1914, in the small town of Gombin in Poland. Your father Elyahu Holtzman, a fruit merchant, died as result of blows by the hands of cruel polish anti-Semites and you grew up an orphan from a tender age. You were the joy of your mother's heart, Rasza, of the Zlotnik family. Many of her 12 brothers from Plock were among the founders of the religious Zionism in Poland, many became famous, men of wisdom, folklorists, researchers of the Yiddish language and important writers who enlightened your childhood in your mother's house in the small village and directed you toward Zionism, a way which you always followed. You were a youth leader in the town, one of the heads of the Shomer Hatzair's movement and hundreds of youth went the way you guided them and remember your legacy up to this day.
Your mother Rasza, an intelligent woman and a leader, a widow who managed the family business and raised you, the youngest of her 10 children, with infinite love. In spite of her piety, she gave you her blessing to forsake exile and to fulfill the dream of returning to Zion. And so you chose the way of socialist Zionism as a solution to the Jewish problem. You dedicated yourself to activities in Ha'Shomer Hatzair, attracting hundreds of youths from the Gombin branch, from summer camps and Kibbutzim Hachshara from all around Poland where you served as a Madrich, guide and educator.
For many of the following years in Israel, you were involved in public activities. You cleverly managed M.P.M.' s interests in the North of the country, with tolerance and wisdom. There was no limit to your devotion to the party, to which you dedicated endless and tireless days and nights of work. You believed with all your innocent heart in the Shomer Hatzair's ideology; blindly, without reservations, ignoring obstacles, going through fire and water, stuck to your belief in a better world in Eretz Israel. You believed in the Kibbutz, in equality, in justice, in the idealistic values of the Socialist Zionist revolution, of which you were part as from its foundation, a pioneer among pioneers, man of integrity, dreamer of the dreams of your generation.
During the past two years we worked together on the perpetuation of the memory of the Gombin shtetl, the lost small town of your youth, and of your family who perished in the Holocaust. I was full of admiration for your clear mind, for your sharp wit, your intelligence, your fantastic memory, your analytical ability, your deep knowledge of the history of Poland, its Jews, the Zionist movement and Ha'Shomer Hatzair.
You left me many audio cassettes on which you spoke lengthily, and your serious and intelligent voice are registered for eternity, as well as more than two hundred old photographs of the family and the shtetl, of the members of the movement in Poland and members of Kibbutz Evron, which your outstanding memory evidenced in detail.
I also have drawers full of pages written compactly in perfect Hebrew, fruit of the blessed work to which you dedicated yourself, where you registered the history of Gombin which you remembered and of your family. You have bequeathed me, for future generations, the genealogical tree of your family, Holtzman/Zlotnik, and the family of our mother Rywcia, Gostinsky/Honigstock. With combined efforts both of us reconstructed it branch by branch, most of them so tragically cut off in the most horrible Holocaust which befell upon our people. You were the last voice to record the memory of hundreds of family members who perished in the Nazi Holocaust, including your seven brothers and sisters, their spouses and 13 innocent little children. You did it so that we shall remember and so will our children after we are gone.
After you retired a few months ago, a fact which saddened you greatly, you found new interest in writing memoirs and in translating the Yizkor book of Gombin which had not been previously translated from Yiddish to Hebrew.
And now, in my house, more then 300 pages lay orphans, filled with your handwriting, pages rich in history, descriptions of the small town's personalities, and of the village's history. You, dear father, are maybe one of the lasts whose mother tongue is Yiddish and who were born in a small town in Poland, the Shtetl, and who suckled its culture with your mother's milk. But you, like many others, preferred to expand out, to break the shackles of tradition in order to fulfill the Zionist dream of equality for all, in the reborn and renewed Land of Israel. But deep in your heart you did not cease to love and respect your parent's house and to dream in Yiddish, your mother tongue.
The memories and the nostalgia often filled your eyes with tears. You sat and painstakingly translated chapter after chapter, as well as tens of other documents from which transpired outstanding information on your parent's house.
Many times I marveled at your capacity to express yourself, at your memory which has no rival. You remembered every member of the family, every pupil and every Hassid, every Rabbi and every leader, every friend and every partner. You described with talent, which moved the heart, the snow covering the roofs of the town of your forefathers, the lake in spring and the endless forests, the forests of Gombin where your love for my mother grew and blossomed. There, your souls were bound together. Mother, Rywcia nee Gostinska, was the love of your youth, and she stuck with you, her first and only man, and she followed you on your the ways of the Haapala (illegal immigration to Palestine), Khoma Ve'Migdal (Tower and Stockade in the Mandatory Palestine) and fulfilling pioneering in Kibbutz Evron, Western Galilee.
You married my mother Rywcia, the love of your life, and you both immigrated on board the illegal ship Colorado in July 1939, just one and a half month before the calamity. All these years you have lived with the silent and oppressive sorrow, burden of constant pain about your family who perished in the Holocaust. Notwithstanding, you mobilized yourself to the service of the country and the Kibbutz, a realizing pioneer, dealing for many years with the pioneering work, fully believing that this was the right way to build the renewed Land of Israel, on the principles of justice and equality.
You built a splendid home in Kibbutz Evron. Children were born, pride of your life. In the hospital, on your deathbed, you told us once that you love your children and that you love life. And life shined to you and so have your children and grandchildren, which you adored with endless love.
In Kibbutz Evron you planted your roots, deep in the ground, although life's realities took you far away for many years. Now you are returning to your real home, to the land of the Galilee which you made blossom, you and your generation of pioneers.
After the premature passing of our beloved mother Rywcia, you rehabilitated yourself and married dear Lotka, who was like a mother to us. Lotka always looked after you and cared for you with devotion and love until the bitter end. Even in the worst days of the burning heat waves of the last summer, she came and went daily to be at your side in the hospital.
You had a good life together. Be strong, Lotka. We tightly embrace you with our heart but the decree from Heaven is irreversible. It is man's destiny not to live forever and everybody returns to realm his fathers at some time. And to our dismay it happened also to our father who was so healthy, so active, the dreamer of dreams and lover of people. Our only consolation is that you had a full, healthy life, a life of action and creativity, work and faith.
You aged with Lotka in serenity, and an old age, which did not shame your youth. You lived a good and healthy life at the side of Lotka, a faithful and dedicated partner.
Until the end you believed in the Kibbutz, in the collective ideal and mutual help, but the system betrayed you .
Even in the last difficult and terrible days near the end of your life, you turned to us your blue eyes, so blue and beautiful as no other, beautiful as the azure skies of this land which you loved so much, tender soft eyes, beseeching us not to leave you alone in this your final hour. And, indeed, we did everything in our power to extend our hand to you and hold you back from the abyss into which you were sinking, but we were powerless
And now, our dearest and beloved father, while you are on the way to your last journey, know that we love you with all our hearts and miss you infinitely now, already. Your love and your legacy will be with us forever, wherever we go.
Rest in peace, at the side of our beloved mother Rywcia.
We shall remember you always with great love until our last day.
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