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[Page 149]

“Bund”[1] in Kałuszyn[2]

by Avrum[3] (Abraham)Goldberg (Melbourne, Australia)

Translated by Gooter Goldberg

 

kal149e.jpg Avrum Goldberg (1899-1982)
Avrum Goldberg (1899-1982)
Please Note: The photograph is not in the
printed (1961) version of Sefer Kałuszyn

 

The history of the Bund in Kałuszyn is lodged in my memory from the age of five, and that coincides with the famous 1905 – the year of the first unsuccessful revolution in the Russian empire. It was then that the sound “B u n d” or Pomots-Bund[4], as it was then known in Kałuszyn, reached my ears.

It was, if I am not mistaken on a Friday, about mid-day. I sat in the cheder[5], and repeated after the rebbe[6] the weekly portion of the Chumash. Suddenly my mother entered the room, whispered something to the rebbe, took me by the hand, and walked me home. Other mothers or fathers also came to take their children out.

At first, it was for me a pleasant surprise but soon it turned into a mystery: the streets of the shtetl[7] appeared different and so did the people. They did not walk but ran and exchanged a few words without stopping. The windows were shut, no one stood out of doors and no women, or children sat on the thresholds although outside was warm and sunny.

It seemed that the customary shtetl placidity evaporated.

When we came to our dwelling on Olshevits Street (later renamed to Yoselewitch[8] Street), the front door of the house was locked. Only after my mother identified herself, were we allowed in, after which the door was again firmly secured from inside.

Our dwelling was now dark as at night-time. The shutters were closed and the kerosene lamp was lit and smoking. On entering from the bright outdoors the darkness gave one a fright. Neighbours went to each other to collect their own, particularly their offspring and to check whether anyone was still left outside. An elderly woman walked in the passage twisting her hands in despair, intoning a prayer to the almighty to call off the evil edict…

Father paced the room with a T'hilim -book[9] in his hands and recited with a plaintive tune from memory, although he now and then turned a page…

As I found out later, the bolting of the front entrances was done on the order of the police because “something was brewing” in the town.

No matter how mother wanted to keep me inside, my curiosity lured me onto the street and every now and then, I slipped into the passage and stared at the locked main gate.

Suddenly someone banged on the door from outside and shouted in a panic: “open, open!” While the door was being opened, a few of the curious stuck their heads out. Squeezing through their legs, I too tried to catch a glimpse of the outdoors. I did not see anything but from the direction of the Varshever Gass[10], which was one of three streets that met adjacent to our house, there came the sounds of a commotion: someone was shouting and a large mass of people answered: “doloy”[11] accompanied by the sound of marching soldiers.

In the house, a pandemonium broke out as if a part of the mass of people had broken in. From all sides frightened people demanded that the outer door be shut. Someone pulled me inside. Out there, a noise could still be heard, somebody was saying: “they're shooting!” I was scared and confused and out of the din one sound stuck in my brain: “Pomots-Bund ”, which rather than clear up the mystery, only deepened it.

The following day started early in our household, as it did in the whole town. During the night there were searches and arrests. From our courtyard two young workers were taken away. In the action, apart from the police also took part two battalions of soldiers that at the time were garrisoned in Kałuszyn. (One was stationed not far from the old cemetery in the buildings which were subsequently owned by Ruvin Michlson, and where later the cinema was situated. The second battalion was stationed in “Staszek's court”. In the action also assisted one Jew, Alter, nicknamed “gzhesh”[12], who was an underworld character and who went along with the police indicating which dwellings to enter.

It was said that the police were searching for tsitsit[13] on those they arrested the ones wearing a talis-kotn[14] were released, the others were badly beaten up and sent off to prisons in Minsk-Mazovietsk (Minsk-Mazowiecki) and Shedlets (Siedlce)[15].

Early, on the morning following the demonstration, they led two arrested workers past our windows on Olshevits Street in the direction of Mrozy[16]. One of them was from another town but worked in Kałuszyn. People pointed to the other, exclaiming: “look at Shmerl Obfal, hardly recognisable!” Both were black and blue, hatless, with their shirts torn and bloody.

Soldiers led them with rifles fitted with bayonets and behind the prisoners walked Alter prodding one or the other with a stick.

Shmerl Obfal later had a barbershop on the Varshever Gass, opposite Layzer Zylberman, was always sickly and coughing. He never recovered from that beating, and died young.

A long time after these events they used to sing in the shtibls[17] and chevres[18] a ditty brought from somewhere:

“Chaim, Moyshe, Ber,

Come here.

Stop lamenting,

I will tell you something:

All the strikers were killed off

And the old order was restored.

The strikers are not feared anymore…”

Bosses, factory owners, and small manufacturers used the ditty to tease their workers, who were now confused and frightened. The “strikers” were, however not killed off. Even later there were still strikes and skirmishes, although these were only echoes of the past. The reaction was in ascendency in the whole of the Russian empire. Nevertheless, the seeds were sown and these later sprouted with renewed vigour.


In the meantime social life in Kałuszyn took on other forms. No more were there illegal meetings in the fields and little forests beyond the “Warsaw Bridge ” at one end of town and on the “Circassian cemetery” at the other end. However, now sprang up trade congregations. In private homes, for a few zlotys weekly people used to meet for Shabbat service, as well as Saturday afternoon for Shalosh-sidus[19].

It used to happen more often than not, that during the service, before the Torah was brought out, someone would bang the table for attention and matters concerning the particular trade would be discussed: bosses trying to cut earnings, the non-payment of wages on time, the mistreatment of a worker. At times it concerned a collection for a sick comrade or a deceased's widow.

In most cases these matters were solved satisfactorily on the spot. In others they had to invite mediators from other trades. It used to happen sometimes that the dissatisfied or those who for one reason or another felt offended (say because they were not called up to the Torah) went over to another congregation. Thus some minyonim[20] became “mixed” (whose members were working in different trades). Later some of these associations fell apart.

During the years 1906-1910 there was one such minyan in our home.

We lived in Varshever Gass, in the house of Tsirele Yaakov Eli's[21], opposite the Rabbi's court. According to Kałuszyn standards it was a nice, big building. The back portion of the house facing the inner court was let out to the Gerer[22] shtibl , in the front part was our dwelling, where we (i.e. Zayda , Yechiel the Rabbi's,[23] as he used to be called) occupied two large rooms and a kitchen.

Zayda then provided full board to my mother with three children, to uncle Nochum and to Auntie Leah and her two children. Zayda mostly travelled around plying his rabbinical trade,[24] my father spent his days learning Torah and reading Psalms “at the feet” of his father, the Rov[25] and Rebbe in Stotsk (Stoczek), and the only adult man in the household was uncle Nochum, who had barely finished his studies to be a shochet[26]. The poverty in the house was dreadful, which was the reason for letting part of the house to the minyan . The income derived was not so much from the rent which was minimal, but rather from the kiosk, which was run as an adjunct to the former.

Every Saturday afternoon, when the older generation sat at shalosh-sidus and sang zmires ,[27] the youngsters congregated in another room, ate hot chickpeas and pumpkin seeds, and washed it down with a glass of beer, and at times even wine or vodka.

It used to happen at twilight, when the longing for the recently passed heroic days tugged at the heart strings, that someone began intoning a song by David Edelshtat or Morris Rosenfeld,[28] others picked up the melody, the sounds filled the darkened room and blended in with the yearning tones of the old timers in the other room.

I liked to be in the room with the youth. Among them was one, Sheeyele Lodzer, a short, lean, pale fellow with black, curly hair and deep sitting black eyes. Because he rolled his “r” and interspersed his speech with Germanic expressions and pronunciation, he was called in jest “yekke potz[29] with a pot of coffee”. He did not seem to take offence; quite to the contrary, he seemed to be pleased with this nickname. He used to put me on his lap and asked me to repeat that sentence until I was able to pronounce it correctly. He then used to treat me to chickpeas and other goodies.

He used to relate how he was tortured in “those days” after arrest: they used to cover his head and then force it into a barrel. The rest of his body was lashed with belts, but his shrieks were muffled. His stories horrified me. He used to drown his reminiscences in drink.

It is a matter of interest that to that group of “strikers” also belonged Moyshe Berman, who later became very rich and the part owner of the biggest pelisse factory in town known as “Berman and Gozhik”. Also Yankl Hillel's[30] used to frequent these get-togethers. I also remember the names of some working people that to the very end before the churban[31] remained true to their youthful ideals of a freer and better world and who – some more, some less –served and assisted the Bund in its wide-ranging activities. Among them, to name a few, were Dovid-Noah Kapuze; Shmul Altenberg, the photographer and his brother Berish; Pinchas Chroshchitski (died in Australia); Shloyme Popovski (shot by Polish reactionaries in 1920). His brother, Chaim Popovski, and Chaim's brother-in-law, Moyshe Shtaynberg belonged to the younger group of “Pomots-Bund”. The above mentioned Shmerl Obfal remained a true believer till the last days of his life.

Many of the Kałuszyn Bund pioneers have left the town in the later years. I remember only some. In Warsaw I met a few times Dovid Tatele[32] (I forgot his surname), a first class wood turner; Yankl Professor, a box maker, who allegedly had been a member of the committee in 1905, hence his nickname. Or maybe it was stuck to him for his spectacles, which he wore due to his short-sightedness; or because he always carried a book. “Well-read”, it used to be said about him.

In Warsaw also lived Mayer Fishl Zorman, a “true-blue” active Bundist , a member of the executive of the “Socialist Artisans Union” till the very last, when the bloody sword of the Nazi executioner brought an end to Jewish life in Poland.

“(Man lives) not by bread alone” – so let us first have a game of cards and then eat a quarter-duck” - went a saying, which I remember from the days when 1905 was behind us and former strikers and revolutionaries waded in with gusto to make up for a life not lived to the full before. A glass of vodka, a snack, and a card game became the favourite pastime and were indulged in with enthusiasm. Many a long night were spent on that.

The minyonim gradually dissolved. Their erstwhile members went to houses of (Torah) study. Young people became less visible – some went to America or Paris, some left the shtetl for the larger towns, where earnings were better and life was less melancholy. Instead of the minyonim there cropped up many backroom pubs in private homes, where patrons spent whole nights at card games. From every stake a small levy was deducted and when a large enough sum has accumulated, it was used to pay for drinks and snacks.

The addiction to cards afflicted even the Chassidic shtibls. Instead of reciting from Pirkei Avot[33] one could now hear people intoning in a sing-song: “queen – king, the ace of diamonds!”

Another passion came into vogue – one more lofty and honourable – singing. There was the desire to replace with singing the monotony of the chant accompanying the Talmud[34] study. This was also an expression of the yearning of young souls to escape from the confines of the shtibl into the world, to soar into the skies…

In those days Russian soldiers used to march through the town on their way to and from exercises. At the head of each column marched an orchestra, which before reaching town struck up a marching song, blowing their trumpets and beating their drums. Every man and his dog would come out onto the main street to see the march; some would join it on the sidelines, and those with musical abilities among them picked up the tunes. On the way back they would help one another to reconstruct the march. They were not familiar with modern things like musical notes; they made use of a shtetl terminology to distinguish the sounds.

It went something like that:

“It starts – bom! Bom-bom-bom, bom-bom, faster! Bom-bom bom! Slower – bom-bom-bom, and again… faster… faster…”
In this manner people involved themselves in music and thus the young ones strove to enter the world at large, until the world in turn broke into the shtetl.

Hard times have arrived. The world geared itself for the (first) Great War. In all the Chassidic shtibls the worshipers “engaged” in high diplomacy and politics. Newspapers became acceptable, even desirable. Along with the newssheets, books and brochures were discreetly stuffed into pockets. Hair was left to grow longer according to fashion, hats became smaller – enough to cover the tip of the head - and worn somewhat rakishly. Apikorsus[35] invaded the shtibl .

A certain summer day springs to mind. We sat in Porisow[36] shtibl near an open window. We saw outside Mordechai Gelibter who recently returned from a Yeshiva run by the “Litvaks[37] somewhere in the outlaying districts and who became “modern”. The conversation began with the customary “Sholem Aleichem” and “Aleichem Sholem” and “what's new in the world?” and his “what's new with you here? – you're still studying (Torah) in the old manner?” He spoke with a Litvish[38] accent; one of ours (Kaluszyner) spoke Litvish! - That was a sign of a great intellect and the young men looked up to him with respect and envy…

In subsequent years I often used to drop into Mordechai's mechanical workshop in “Tauba Hodle's cellar”. He no longer spoke Litvish but had reverted to Kaluszyner Yiddish like the rest of us. From time to time, however, he would still drop in a word in Litvish, a throwback to his youth…

Someone who had contributed a lot to the secularisation of Chassidic youth was Laybl Rosenfeld. He began studying (Hebrew) grammar and the Tanach[39], gave his children Biblical names, and ended up in outright Apikorsus.

Judging by the manner in which he enunciated his speech one could sense that to Laybl was important not only the meaning of each sentence but also each word, even each letter.

I met Laybl in Bialystok, after the Red Army entered (in 1939) the eastern part of Poland[40]. He told me of his disillusionment. He was badly shaken when I was arrested following a denunciation by an underworld type, who wanted to ingratiate himself with the NKVD[41].

Another person who had an influence on the youth which yearned to escape the walls of the shtibl into the outside world was Dovid Bekerman. I first met him when I was still a cheder -boy. He was counted among the “strikers”. Bosses used to call him disparagingly “the town's he-goat”. He used to wander around the shtetl looking mysterious, an old bachelor without any family whatsoever. If a young man had not married “in time”, it used to be said about him that he was going to become “another Dovid Bekerman”. If the same “fate” befell a girl, they used to say: “she'll marry Dovid Bekerman unless the angel of death will snatch her away beforehand”.

I remember Bekerman from before the Great War sporting a blondish goatee, wearing a long coat and a Yiddish hitl[42]. Later he wore European (that is modern) clothing. However, the goatee remained. The “enlightened” youths looked up to him. His greatest admirer was Mayer Ring.

Bekerman was a member of the “Cultural Society – Tsukunft[43]” from its inception (if I'm not mistaken, he was also one of the founders). However, he did not join any of the proletarian movements which later sprang from the Society.

When he died in loneliness (in the 20s), the “enlightened” young people organized a secular funeral and later erected a tombstone with an inscription only in Yiddish. This was the first such headstone on the Kałuszyn Jewish cemetery.


At the start of World War I in August 1914 Kałuszyn had already a considerable number of conscious young people whom the old way of life no longer satisfied, although no new one had as yet evolved. One thing united them all: an urge to secular learning and knowledge, and new “European” manners. Frequent gatherings took place in private homes (there were as yet no social clubs and the shtibls did not conform to the aesthetic norms any more …), where something was read, discussed, or freely talked about.

One such discussion springs to mind. It took place in Mayer Ring's watchmaker's shop, which he then had in Yosl Zimel's building on Varshever Gass. The shop was packed. I remember among those present: Mendl Grushka, Shloyme Tsukerman, Mendl Kamienny, Laybl Rosenfeld, Itche Milgrom, and Shloyme Velondik. (I happened to be there by accident, went with my Mum who was visiting her friend Chaye Ring). I can't recall the gist of the heated discussion but I remember distinctly only two words, which I already understood: “majority” and “minority”…

New words were incorporated into the vernacular. The young people, perhaps even not realising it, began speaking a new language. I remember when I was approached by Yisroel Klaynman (the son of Loozer the shochet ), who was my age and a shtibl- mate. He asked me to teach him “today's” language; he even offered to pay me… When I caught on what he meant, I could only advise him to read more books and newspapers, since this was not something one could learn like Hillel's Torah standing on one leg.[44]

It seems that in my conversations with my young friends I began unwittingly using words which I picked up from books, and Yisroel Klaynman noticed it. I gave him an address where he could get books for a small fee. I took him upstairs to Chaim Dovid Zylberman where in a small room was the treasure and the key to “today's language” – a library of a few hundred Yiddish books. I doubt that he succeeded in learning the new lingo. There were so many incomprehensible expressions and he needed a bahelfer[45]… On top of everything did Loozer, the shochet catch the “forbidden book”, tore it up and burned it. Yisroel forfeited the security deposit, which he had saved up with great difficulty. He could no longer continue on the martyr's road… By the way, our paths diverged. I “went to the proletariat” and he got stuck somewhere on the way.


The room of Chaim Dovid Zylberman's library made the impression of a small Chassidic shtibl. The wall and ceiling paper has peeled away here and there. The furniture consisted of an unpolished table, a few unvarnished chairs, and stools. The closet with the books was the crown of the room, like a holy ark. It goes without saying that most of the visitors came straight from the shtibl .

I went up there once to exchange a book (one of Jules Verne's fantastic adventures) and met a whole company of shtibl regulars. Laybl Rozenfeld paced the room like in Beis-medresh[46]. Shloyme Velondik who retained his typical Chassidic mannerisms even after becoming a Bundist sat in a chair with his feet up on a stool, Chassidic -familiarly. Avrum Gluzman (now in Argentina), half sat, half stood down from the corner of the table and held a few books pressed to his body (He used to “devour” books; to finish reading a book was for him like reciting a chapter of Psalms). Ezra Skovronek sat comfortably in a chair. The gold teeth and gold rimmed spectacles gave him a bourgeois appearance. His manner was restraint, not Chassidic-shtibl- like and his speech was cold and measured, free of pathos. There were a few more people in the room and, of course Chaim Dovid Zylberman, the owner of the library. When I went up to the table to exchange my book, Shloyme Velondik picked it up, opened it, and dropped his feet from the stool. He turned towards me and asked: “tell me young man, did you read all of it”? I said: “yes, of course!” He wouldn't let go: “so tell me, what did you get out of it, what have you understood”?

That question confused me completely. For me, the story itself was quite interesting, but for Shloyme Velondik the subject matter was merely the shell and he was looking for the kernel, he needed to derive something; it was another shiur[47] of a page of the Gemara , a continuation of Shtibl pilpul[48].

The others came to my rescue, mainly Laybl Rosenfeld and a discussion began among all of them in the Chassidic fashion with arms moving and out shouting one another about what “one could infer from that book”… I was pleased that they forgot about me, took another book, and quietly left the room.


That library (which of course, was illegal) was the foundation of the larger library and reading room of the Cultural Society Tsukunft which was established in 1916 under the German occupation during World War I. I don't know how the founding meeting was initiated. It amazes me that I came to be there. According to the statutes one had to be at least 18 years old to become a member and to be allowed into the meeting. If I am not mistaken, two exceptions were made: for Mayer Milgrom, 16 years old, sponsored by his brother Itche, one of the organisers, and for me, of same age as Mayer, sponsored by Laybl Rosenfeld.

The meeting took place in a small room in the front of the house where Shmul Altenberg had his photo studio. The room was packed and the heat was unbearable. The crowd was mixed: former and partly current shtibl habitués, workers and independent artisans, some “from 1905”…

I want to mention especially two people from among the organisers that later disappeared from the Kałuszyn social arena: Shloyme Tsukerman, about whom it was said that he spoke Polish without an accent like a native (ethnic) Pole, and Yehoshua Funt, from Mrozy, an elegant young man, always well dressed with a snow white collar, a top hat and a well groomed moustache. About him it was also alleged that he spoke perfect Polish, as well as German. These were virtues that could not be claimed by the intellectuals bred in the shtibl, and certainly not by the workers.

At that meeting the Tsukunft Library was inaugurated. Soon after, the library hired an adjacent larger room and a reading room was opened.

The interest displayed and the influx of members was so huge that by the first anniversary of its existence the library had to be moved to spacious premises in the house across from Gorfinkl. Here began an expanded cultural activity: lectures, performances, discussion evenings, dance evenings or as it used to be called – family gatherings, poem recitals, singing, etc. I want to mention now the very talented leader of the choir Berish Altenberg, who selflessly devoted much time and energy to maintain the choir at a high level.

From the Cultural Society Tsukunft, seeing that it served as the meeting place for almost the entire youth of Kałuszyn (including also many middle-aged family people), there began to emerge different ideological leanings and in conjunction with that also frictions about power positions and prestige. The end was that at a general meeting the majority decided to change the name to “Workers' Cultural Society Tsukunft” and join collectively the Bund. This took place end of 1916 or beginning of 1917.

The other tendencies: Poalei-Tsiyon[49] and PSD[50] (later Communists) left the Society, and (if I am not mistaken) the property, mainly the library, was divided according to the number of members of each grouping.

After the Bolshevik invasion of Poland in 1920 and the subsequent political reaction, when social life in Kałuszyn was for a time weakened, the libraries re-united, but later split up again.

From 1923 a Bundist library existed at first under the auspices of the trade unions led by the Bund and later up to the outbreak of World War II under the aegis of the Worker's Consumer Cooperative “Unity”.

The activity of the Bund organization proper began in 1916 with clandestine meetings in private homes where those present were inculcated with political economy: “subsistence”… “Wages and capital”… “Surplus value”, etc. Different periods can be distinguished: before and after the Bolshevik invasion. During the latter period the greatest number of activists left Kałuszyn, some for bigger towns, some for other countries; everything was wrecked; new activists in newly changed circumstances had to start everything from the beginning.

From the first period a few high points are engraved in my memory.

I remember a big mass demonstration in 1918, a few days after the Germans were expelled from Poland. In one night we prepared flags and banners in the premises of the Cultural Society Tsukunft, under the leadership of Yankl Kapote (Palma). The following morning the participants marched from there and went through the whole length of Varshever Gass with songs and slogans, in the 1905 fashion, up to the building of the trade unions (near Tsirele, Yaakov Eli's, opposite the Rabbi's court, where formerly was situated the Gerer shtibl ). After the speeches by a few comrades, the crowd dispersed. This was the first workers' demonstration in Kałuszyn after 1905.

At a given moment, when the march reached the “railroad-cars” (at the intersection of Varshever and Yoselewitch Streets, near Yankl Shtayn's) a few members of the newly established Polish state militia appeared shouting: “what is this”? “Disperse”! A few shots rang out. The back rows of the demonstration momentarily faltered, onlookers began to run in all directions. The militiamen themselves became confused, but order was swiftly restored and the march safely reached its destination.

A second huge demonstration, albeit of a different character, was the funeral – with flags and wreaths – of Miriam, daughter of pious Jew and dozor[51] Sholke Kramarz[52]. She died on a Friday evening in March 1919 and the father locked the doors, in order not to let in the “ruffians”. The following morning (Shabbat) the chevre put up a ladder to the balcony of the upper floor and got into the room where the deceased lay. They informed Reb[53] Sholke that Miriam belongs to them and that they, not the Chevre Kadisha[54] would arrange the funeral. And so it happened, despite lots of shouting, protests, and entreaties. Reb Sholke did not take part in the funeral. This was the first secular funeral in Kałuszyn. Almost the whole town participated: the young people because of their “victory over the forces of darkness”, others out of curiosity.

A similar funeral took place a short time later, that of Esther Vishnia, also a Bund member. This time there was no conflict with parents: the father was dead and the mother did not object.

 

kal157e.jpg The funeral of Esther Vishnia
The funeral of Esther Vishnia

 

The biggest sections in the trade unions were then of the tanners and pelisse makers. Other affiliated trades were wood turners, brush makers, talaysim[55] weavers and hosiery makers. Since in those days there was a permanent inflation and the economy was unstable there were many unemployed and hungry people. The few that worked had to fight for wages to keep up with galloping prices.

One of the tactics of the struggle was to embargo the finished products, which usually were dispatched to Warsaw. This often led to conflicts with the owners-wagon drivers. One such dispute arose with the Shliamkes, a family of “heavies”. They managed to break through our pickets that checked the wagons at the bridge leading to the capital. A messenger was straight away dispatched to Warsaw. The following morning when the Shliamkes arrived with their wagons to the “Iron Gate” of the city where the goods were supposed to be unloaded, they were met by a “welcoming committee” of transport workers from Warsaw – no less “heavy” than the Shliamkes. The latter had since then refrained from transporting strike-embargoed goods.

For the unemployed a kitchen was established where free meals, for some at a minimal cost, were distributed. The funds to run the kitchen were obtained from contributions from all shop owners and other more comfortable towns people.


As was already mentioned, the entire social life was wrecked as a consequence of the Bolshevist offensive. The meeting places were locked, the majority of activists dispersed. The Bund was for a time harassed by the authorities due to its opposition to the war against the Bolsheviks and to Pilsudski's[56] march on Kiev.[57] Many of our young men were also drafted into the Polish army and Kałuszyn was quiet. It seemed that the Bund was no more.

In the spring of 1921 a consultative meeting of nine Bundists took place at the home of Shmerl Obfal (barber). Apart from Shmerl himself those present were: Yankl Kapote, Dvoyre Kramarz[58], Itche Kramarz[59], Moyshe Milgrom, Velvl Zhondzhinski, Moyshe and Avrum Goldberg; the ninth may have been Yitzchak Ruzhe. At the meeting the continued existence of the Bund in Kałuszyn was proclaimed. On the anniversary of that meeting a celebration took place under the motto “from nine to ninety”! By that time our membership grew tenfold.

It should be noted that Youth-BundTsukunft ” renewed ita activities a few weeks after the war.[60] Three comrades took part in a consultative meeting in the ante-chamber of the old Beis-medresh (at that time the safest place): Itche Kramarz, Moyshe Goldberg[61], and Velvl Zhondzhinski. They drew up a list of all veteran Tsukunftists, divided them for security reasons into a number of krayzn[62], and started to convene regular meetings.

Soon after, they commenced ingathering the books from former members/borrowers of the “Grosser-Library”[63] at the “Workers' Society Tsukunft” and thus temporarily established a small library in the home of Moyshe Goldberg's mother, who was later used to be called “the mother of the Bund”.

In the same spring of 1921 (after the abovementioned meeting) we were unable to celebrate May Day openly. It was a few months after the Bolshevik war and after the executions of Manchemer, Shloyme Popovski and Shtaynberg. The townspeople were fearful, and we were only a small group. What sort of impression could we make by appearing in the open? So we marked the day in a curious manner: about a dozen or so of young people gathered in our house. A small red flag was made of an old piece of material, and night time, at about 9-10 we went singly and via back lanes to the town square. The streets and the square were deserted and only a bright moon lit up the darkened houses, which stared at us with glazed windows.

One of us spoke a few words and we shouted out our slogans into the dark and, to us, hostile and cruel world. We shouted into the empty square, to the heavens. The seemingly dead houses answered with an echo. It looked as if the dead walls passed on the vibrations of our shouts and that our calls found a response on the other side.

As proof can be cited the previously mentioned anniversary celebration under the motto: “nine-ninety”!

Subsequent May Days - when our numbers kept growing and reached three, four hundred, at times even more, Bundists , Tsukunftists and Skifists[64] - were celebrated with greater prominence and verve. The marches used to end with mass meetings in the same square, but in another corner. From the balcony of Reb Sholke Kramarz our comrades used to make speeches to enthusiastic crowds under red banners, protected by squads of members of the “Shuts[65] Bund”.

When the Fareynigte[66] have decided to join the Bund, their Kałuszyn group applied for a formal entry into the party. A conference then took place in the home of Dovidl Zylberberg. From our side apart from Dovidl were present (as far as I remember) Mayer Ring and I. From the Fareynigte took part: Alter Tcheladnitski, Yisroel Slutski (son-in-law of the Kałuszyn Rabbi), Hershl Yosl Sokol and Moyshe Rozenfeld.

We have received from the Fareynigte some books to enlarge our library. We also took steps to establish a kindergarten as a branch of the Central Yiddish School Organization, based in Warsaw. The two most important activists in that endeavour, especially in obtaining the necessary funds, were Zylberberg and Tcheladnitski. The first premises of the kindergarten were the two small rooms in the last house in Zamoyska Street, near the “Glinki ”. Later these became too cramped and we moved into a larger place, which also served as the premises for the Bund-Tsukunft-Skif activities.

 

kal159e.jpg Youth organization 'Tsukunft'
Youth organization “Tsukunft”
(The banner reads: Long live our tsukunft {Yiddish for future} G.G.)

 

The Yugnt-Bund[67] “Tsukunft” was established[68] almost contemporaneously with the Bund in the period before the Bolshevik offensive. In the same building of the Gorfinkles which housed the Cultural Society “Tsukunft” we rented a room on the first floor for the “Yugnt-Bund”. Actually they were calling themselves “Little Bund ” (or “Pomots-Bund” according to the traditions of 1905). But soon after, they adopted the name from the Centre. The founders and first activists of the “Yugnt-Bund Tsukunft” were Moyshe Goldberg and Yisroel Milgrom. Both were fiery orators.

I recall Yisroel Milgrom – a short slim youth with an elongated small face, but with the “power of the gab”. During his speeches he never paused. The words gushed out of him in a hot stream, with pathos which inflamed his audience. During World War II Yisroel managed to get out from Soviet-occupied Vilne (Vilnius) to America where he died at the age of 40 exhausted from his troubles and ailments.

Moyshe Goldberg was the soul and the conscience of the “Tsukunft”. His speeches were imbued with a spirit and fire of an apostle. He was highly respected by his comrades who were truly willing to lay down their lives for him. When Rukhche Lis was in 1926 drawn into the activities of the Skif she became his right hand in the work of the organization. She too, had a similar nature: with pious, unlimited devotion she was ready to sacrifice herself for the movement. They shared a tragic fate at the hands of the murderous Nazis.

In 1935 the Tsukunft in Kałuszyn had over 200 members. In that year the 5-th convention of the Tsukunft took place in Warsaw. Kałuszyn was represented by two delegates (according to the rules – one delegate per hundred members).

During one of the pre-war[69] years the Warsaw organization arranged a Tsukunft- camp in Mrozy. The Kałuszyn Tsukunftists were both guests as well as the hosts there. They helped a lot in arranging and conducting the camp.

How far the Kałuszyn Tsukunft was respected in the centre can be seen from the fact that the huge convention of the Warsaw district in 1931 was organized in Kałuszyn. A large group from Warsaw took part, as well as the organization of Mezritch (Miêdzyrzecze) with their orchestra, the organizations from Nowidvor, Minsk-Mazovietsk, Vengrov (Wêgrüw), Sokolov, Shedlets, Zhelechov, Lukov, Stok, Malkin, Kosov and Radzin. The march through the streets of Kałuszyn made a big impression.

During the years 1935-1937 the Tsukunft and Skif had their own summer camps in Yarnits. In 1938 the camp was conducted in Firlaj near Kotzk.

The members who entered the Bund from the Tsukunft distinguished themselves by their activism and devotion. The same used to be said by Tsukunftists about those of their members who “graduated” from the Skif .

At the time the Skif was officially founded in 1926, there already was active in Kałuszyn a substantial group. Some of the members are still in my memory: Rukhche Lis, Bayle Mrozovski, Fayge Zelazne (now in Israel), Yisroel Ruzhovykviat (in Israel), Hershl Rozenfeld (Canada) and, it seems to me, also Mayerl Tseshinski. Mayerl was an unusual individual. He was burning like the (biblical) bush with an inextinguishable fire for the Bund , Tsukunft and Skif; he wanted to be everywhere and was everywhere, willing to face all troubles and perform the most dangerous assignments. Many a time on a frosty night he went on an errand to Warsaw on horse-and-cart in order to save costs for the organization. More than once he was beaten up by opponents. He accepted everything with utter devotion. He was also immune to ridicule whenever he was teased because of his absentmindedness. He could not be chased out of the Bund even with whips. Mayerl Tseshinski went to France before World War II and perished there. We honour his memory!


The sports club “Morgnshtern[70] was established and conducted on the model of the Warsaw club by that name. Although they also played soccer, ping-pong and other sports, they concentrated mainly on gymnastics. Three persons distinguished themselves in that branch of Bundist activities: Moyshe Rozenfeld, Yosl Kapuze and Berl Shtaynberg. From among the members of Morgnshtern were recruited the members of the Shuts-Bund, the party militia, although to the latter also belonged persons who were not members of the sports club. The exercises in military fashion used to take place at dawn (mainly on Saturday) on a large grazing field outside the town, beyond the Warsaw Bridge. We maintained closed contact with the Warsaw party militia. Assisted by “Comrade Bernard” and “Yosef Bosak” we obtained some “cold” and “hot” arms. The box of “merchandise” was mainly hidden in a cellar or on a garret under the supervision of a reliable unsuspected female comrade. Two such locations were: in the cellar of Fayge Zelazne on Zamoyska Street and on the garret at Miriam Grodzinski on Mrozy Street.

Only once was the “box” emptied completely. That happened in 1936 during the pogrom in Minsk-Mazovietsk after Laybl Chaskelevitch, a member of Tsukunft shot and killed a Polish junior officer to avenge the humiliation and torment that Laybl suffered whilst serving in the Minsk-Mazovietsk regiment. We were at the time at a conference of the trade-union of wagon-drivers, who daily covered the Kałuszyn-Minsk-Mazovietsk route. They returned with the news that they were warned before reaching Minsk not to enter that town, because a pogrom was going on there and fires were raging. We straight away dispersed and called a conference of all proletarian organizations in town. That same evening the town was divided into sectors and patrols were put in place. Groups were placed on watch in houses in a number of localities, ready in case of an alarm. This “state of emergency” lasted a week.

When someone then asked Sawicki, the secretary of the municipality whether he believed that a pogrom might take place in Kałuszyn too, he replied: “Oh, no! Everybody knows that the youngsters here are armed. There are even rumours that the Bund has machine-guns!”


Our performing arts group had a reputation in town. It existed already before the Bolshevik war, during the period of the “Cultural Society Tsukunft ”. We had in the circle a few talented amateurs, such as Yisroel Raychnbach, Rivkele Ring, Brontche Helman, Mayer Ring, Yankl Kapote, Miriam Goldvog, and others. Coached by a professional actor, Yitzchak Feld the circle performed the popular in those days plays: “The Wild Man”, “Mirele Efros”, “Yankl the Smith”, “Greene Felder” (Green Fields), etc. After Feld left, Yisroel Raychnbach directed the group with great success.

Once I was granted the privilege of a small role as a cart-driver. I couldn't then have imagined that on me would in the future fall the heavy responsibility of managing the drama group.

After the war[71] we re-established the drama circle and we had a number of gifted amateurs: Chaytche Helman, Moyshe Rozenfeld, Yosl Obronczka, Artchie Sukenik, Miriam Grodzitski, Sore Tayblum, Frimet Rodzinska, Shmul Bialykamien, his brother, Hershl – the very young Skifist, and others.

Often we ourselves wrote the short plays, sketches and monologues, mainly of a propagandist character, as for instance at the time of election campaigns for the municipality, and similar activities. Many times we also composed the music accompaniment for our performances and had for this the approval of Mayer Ring, who considered himself a music maven[72] (he himself played the violin).

Sometimes I marvel where did we, unschooled, guided only by intuition and some self-education, derive the strength and courage to do all the above and be successful? And the only answer is: we had belief and soul, heart and feeling. That what produced such response and enabled such performance.


Until 1927 the Polish “wielmożne pany”[73] couldn't bring themselves to grant Kałuszyn an elected city council. The reason: Kałuszyn was a thoroughly Jewish town and within her boundaries the ethnic Poles wouldn't have garnered enough votes to elect any councillors. An election would have resulted in a purely Jewish council and municipal management. Polish hauteur could not allow that to happen.

At a time when almost in all of Poland (except in the “kresy[74]) already functioned elected councils, the Minsk-Mazovietsk district authorities were still searching for a scheme to circumvent the law relating to self-governing municipalities, in order to ensure an ethnic-Polish representation in Kałuszyn. In 1927 they incorporated into the town a number of neighbouring villages with ethnic Polish populations, villages which normally should have had their own self-governing bodies. They then allowed elections to take place.

Needless to say, the entire Bundist movement, from the oldest adult to the youngest Skifist have thrown themselves into the election campaign. There was a problem with nominations. First of all, each candidate had to be at least 25 years old. We were a young movement and the majority of politically schooled members were in the age group of 20 to less than 25. Nevertheless, we could overcome this hurdle. However, we had another problem: all the candidates had to pass an exam of proficiency in the Polish language.

Our older members could davenen[75], read a Yiddish book or newspaper, could communicate in Polish with the peasants at the market or with the chimney-sweep, the policeman, even with the secretary of the municipality. As far as we were concerned, our candidates were “educated”. But to the judge, the president of the electoral committee, they were illiterates…[76]

The town council was to consist of 24 councillors. We nominated a list of 12. Shmul Layzer Sadovski[77] was supposed to be one of them, but he categorically declined because of his stutter. When the time came for the exam many refused even to sit: although they spoke Polish, they could not write in that language. Others risked it but failed. Only four candidates were left by the examiner on our list. We thought it was all for the best, because we really didn't expect to win even four seats. However, we, as well as others, were taken by surprise when all four were elected. Three of them survived the war: Mendl Berman (now in the U.S.A), Dvoyre Kramarz-Goldberg and the author of this memoir (in Australia); the fourth was Yosef Kuski (perished)[78].

The composition of the council was as follows: 6 orthodox (“Aguda”)[79], 6 from the United Polish list (two from the Polish Socialist Party and one who later became a Communist), 4 from the Bund, 2 from “Poalei Tsiyon”[80], 2 Jewish Artisans, 2 Communists (one Pole and one Jew plus the one who later joined them), one Zionist (Gamzo) and one independent (Michlson).

According to the proportional system we, as the third largest faction were entitled to one alderman, and in order not to lose a vote at the council (since all our unelected alternative candidates were disqualified) we had to find a new candidate, one who had not been called before to sit for an exam. We exerted pressure on Shmul Layzer Sadovski, trying to convince him that in a closed circle of only four aldermen he would somehow manage with his speech. He finally gave in and was elected alderman. As a matter of interest: he later used to speak quite often at the meetings of the council, as well as publicly; he made an effort and overcame his speech impediment.

Following the example of the Bundist councillors in Warsaw and in other towns, here too, at one of the earliest meetings, when the various factions read their political declarations, one of our councillors read in Yiddish that part of our statement of principles which dealt with the struggle for the respect for and the rights of Yiddish.

It can well be imagined the impression this wrought on the wielmożne, including the senior officer of the district, who had specially been invited to that meeting. He was beside himself and elbowed the mayor to interrupt the speaker. The police superintendent, as if bitten jumped up from his seat and ran towards our councillor, seemingly ready to trample on him. However, he was told off: “this is not the place; here the mayor is in charge”. He stopped in his tracks confused, waiting for a sign what to do. The gallery, packed with Jews applauded. The mayor, himself confused and hesitant kept fiercely ringing the bell. In the meantime our comrade finished reading. The gallery applauded again.

This episode very much increased the esteem of our councillors both in and outside the council.

We often employed filibusters during budget sittings when the majority of the council rejected our proposals to increase social assistance, or to subsidise our kindergarten and Yiddish library, etc.

Once, in the course of such a filibuster, the police, acting on the order of the mayor who in turn received such an instruction from the senior district officer, ejected one of our councillors by force after the majority barred him from the proceedings. The other Bundist councillors left the sitting in protest.

The work and the composition of the council – the considerable proletarian representation and the Jewish majority - was a thorn in the side of the Polish authorities. They were always looking for means to correct this situation. They incorporated into the town some more peasant communities and tailored the electoral boundaries in such a manner so as to give the ethnic-Polish minority a greater representation with the fewer votes cast for their candidates.

The second council was to consist of only 16 members instead of twenty-four. The result was that all groupings obtained a reduced representation. However, since the Bund has grown more popular during that period, we again gained four councillors, which in fact meant a greater proportion of the total vote. The remaining factions comprised: 6 ethnic Poles, 4 orthodox, 1 Jewish Artisan and 1 Communist. Our councillors this time were: Mendl Berman, Kalman Shtaynharts, Paysech Goldshtayn and Goldberg.[81] Sadovski was again elected an alderman.

Having acquired some experience and having gained proportionally a greater representation, our activity in the second council was conducted more ably. We were allotted one out of the three positions of town “opiekun ”.[82] We rendered a lot of assistance to the sick and needy on the account of the municipality.

We were aware that not only Bundists and sympathisers voted for us, but also unaffiliated people, even orthodox people, who in others respects looked askance on our freethinking actions. They sensed, however, that on socio-economic and secular issues we were their appropriate representatives. Therefore, when a bill to prohibit kosher slaughter was submitted in the Sejm[83] we, following the policy of the Bund in Poland, called the Jewish population of Kałuszyn out on a general protest strike against the antisemitic, discriminatory bill. With the exception of one shopkeeper the entire population observed the strike, whereupon we called the people to boycott his shop. The owner was forced to submit to a sentence of a popular court: to pay a certain sum for a social purpose and publish an apology in the “Folkstsaytung[84] and in one other Jewish daily newspaper.


The Jews of Kałuszyn are no more.
Not one Jew remained there. Even the Jewish tombstones had been broken up and used to pave sidewalks, and the two Jewish cemeteries were converted into pastures.
A few Bundists from Kałuszyn miraculously survived and were scattered across countries and continents.
Yet – wherever they may be, they are still carrying within the profound belief in universal brotherhood.
Wherever they may be, they add their weight to the forces that struggle for the lofty ideals of justice and equality, for the sanctity of life of each individual.
Wherever they may be, they are still carrying within themselves the burning desire to struggle for respect for Jew and Man.
This is our legacy from the Bund in Kałuszyn.

Translator's Footnotes

  1. Abbreviation of Algemeyner Yidisher Arbeter Bund in Lite, Poyln un Rusland; “General Jewish Workers' Union in Lithuania, Poland and Russia”), Jewish socialist party founded in Russia in 1897 (Encyc.Judaica) Return
  2. Polish spelling of Kalushin. In this text the names of towns are given in English transliteration of their Yiddish pronunciation, with the exception of the capital Warsaw. (First names and surnames are rendered in a more or less phonetic spelling).

    This is an unedited translation from the Yiddish of an article in “Sefer Kalushin”, Published by the “Kalushiner Societies in Israel, the United States of America, Argentine, France and other countries”, Tel-Aviv, 1961; (the translation and reference notes were made by the author's son, Gooter Goldberg, Melbourne, Australia). Return

  3. Kałuszyn Yiddish pronunciation of Avrohom Return
  4. Pomots – Polish pomoc for support, cooperation, assistance. Return
  5. An orthodox primary learning establishment, where boys were taught the Chumash , the five books of Moses or the Pentateuch. Return
  6. Most likely just a melamed, a cheder instructor. Return
  7. Yiddish for a small town Return
  8. Berek Joselewicz, Jewish colonel who led a separate Jewish regiment of the Polish Army during the Kościuszko Uprising.of 1794 against the Russians. Return
  9. Psalter. Return
  10. Warszawska Street, the main street and thoroughfare to Warsaw. Return
  11. “Down!” in Russian (as in “down with the Tsar!”) Return
  12. Possibly a corruption of the Polish word grzech (sin). Return
  13. Fringes on a talis-kotn Return
  14. Talit-katan - a four-cornered ritual garment Return
  15. Neighbouring towns, bigger than Kałuszyn Return
  16. A neighbouring village Return
  17. Literally - a small dwelling, but used in the sense of a small house of prayer. Return
  18. Chevre – fraternity, gang; here - a small congregation. Return
  19. Shalosh-sudot - the three meals of the Shabbat. Return
  20. Plural of minyan, literally – quorum, but used for “small congregation”. Return
  21. A Yiddish turn of phrase - Tsirele, the daughter of or wife of Yaakov Eli. Return
  22. Gerer –Chassidim ( pious men, adherents of a Chassidic rebbe) of the Gerer rebbe, a Chassidic branch centered in the Polish town Gòra Kalwarii, or Ger in Yiddish; rebbe – a leader of a Chassidic sect. Return
  23. The Rabbi's son - the Rabbi being most likely Rabbi Avrohom Elchanan Unger, known affectionately as Reb (a respectful form of address) Avremele. Return
  24. He was probably serving isolated small Jewish communities or individual Jews in outlying villages. Return
  25. Alternatively, Rav (corresponding to present-day Rabbi, usually hired by a congregation) which is a job description, in distinction to Rebbe (Teacher, leader of a group of Chassidim) which is an honorific. Return
  26. Ritual slaughterer. Return
  27. Literally songs; here meaning religious songs Return
  28. Yiddish revolutionary poets Return
  29. The whole sentence is a derogatory expression for a German: yekke from jacket, implying a straight-laced person, potz (slang for penis, meaning simpleton, stupid). Return
  30. Yankl, the son of Hillel Return
  31. Devastation, destruction. Though also of Hebrew derivation this expression for the Holocaust was preferred by secular Yiddishists to the now more commonly used Shoah (disaster, conflagration) Return
  32. His nickname - meaning “little father” Return
  33. Sayings of the Fathers Return
  34. A record of rabbinic discussions of Jewish law, ethics, customs and history. The Talmud has two components: the Mishnah, which is a written collection of Judaism's Oral Law; and the Gemara, a discussion of the Mishnah and related writings. (Based on Encyc.Judaica). Return
  35. A Hebrew expression from the Second Temple era used to denote agnosticism, heresy, non-belief. A non-believer was called an apikoros. The word is derived from the name of the ancient Greek materialist and empiricist philosopher Epicurus. Return
  36. One of the Chassidic branches Return
  37. Literally – Lithuanians, but here meaning Lithuanian Jews, the majority of whom were misnagdim , i.e. in opposition to Chassidism and thus “enlightened” Return
  38. The pronunciation of Yiddish by Lithuanian Jews. This became accepted (with slight variations) as the literary Yiddish Return
  39. Torah, Prophets, and Hagiography collectively known as the Bible (Old Testament). To read the whole Tanach, particularly the Prophets was in Chassidic circles in those days considered dangerous. Return
  40. Pursuant to the Soviet-Nazi Germany non-aggression pact. Return
  41. Soviet interior secret services. Return
  42. A Jewish cap – a small, round cap with a flat top and a small peak. This and the long, black coat were the accepted attire for pious Jews. Return
  43. Future. Return
  44. A non-Jew wanted to learn all of Judaism quickly. He went to Hillel the Elder (circa 100 B.C.E.) and asked to be taught all the Torah while he could stand on one leg. Hillel told him: “What you do not like, do not do to others. The rest is commentary (go and learn it all)”. Return
  45. A rebbe's assistant in cheder. Return
  46. Beit-Hamedresh - house of study and/or prayer. Return
  47. Lesson, an exposition of a Talmudic topic. Return
  48. Longwinded debate, excessively subtle argumentation. Return
  49. Labour Zionists. Return
  50. Polish Social Democrats. Return
  51. Warden of a synagogue (also a member of the Kehilla governing board?) Return
  52. Later the author's father-in-law. Return
  53. An honorific Return
  54. Jewish (Orthodox) burial society. Return
  55. Talitim - Prayer shawls. Return
  56. Józef Piłsudski (1867-1935), Polish statesman, Field marshal, first chief of state (1918–1922) and dictator (1926–1935), as well as the leader of its armed forces (Wikipedia) Return
  57. Capital of the Ukraine. At that time part of the newly formed Soviet State. Return
  58. In 1924 became the author's spouse. Return
  59. Dvoyre's brother Return
  60. Polish-Bolshevik war. Return
  61. Brother of the author. Return
  62. Circles, cells Return
  63. Grosser, Bronislaw, (1883–1912), lawyer born in Miechow, Poland; one of the second generation of Bund leaders. (Encyc.Judaica) Return
  64. Members of “Skif” (Union of Socialist Children) Return
  65. Shuts (pron.Shoots) – Protection, the party militia. Return
  66. United Jewish Socialist Workers' Party (Fareynigte, i.e. “United”); group in Russia and interwar Poland. It was formed in 1917 through the union of the Zionist Socialist Workers' Party who were territorialists, [i.e. willing to accept ANY territory for a Jewish National Home (state)], and the Jewish Socialist Workers' Party who were autonomists, i.e. striving for Jewish cultural autonomy. (Based on Encyc.Judaica) Return
  67. Young Bund or Youth Bund Return
  68. i.e. in Kałuszyn Return
  69. Pre-World War II Return
  70. Morningstar Return
  71. The Soviet-Polish war of 1919-1920 (or as the author called it – the Bolshevik war). Return
  72. Expert. Return
  73. “Highly esteemed lordships”. Return
  74. Frontier - the Eastern parts of pre-war (World War II) Poland, inhabited by the Ukrainian and Byelorussian minorities. Return
  75. Pray, worship. Return
  76. While Poland was under Russian domination neither the Tsarist nor the local Polish authorities (nor the Jewish religious authorities, for that matter) were eager for Jews to acquire a formal education in either language. Compulsory education for all children of school age was introduced after Poland gained independence in 1918. Return
  77. Husband of Sore Kramarz and brother-in-law of Dvoyre Kramarz (Goldberg). Return
  78. In the Holocaust. Return
  79. Association – an orthodox movement. Return
  80. Labour Zionists Return
  81. Avrum, the author of this article. Return
  82. Polish for a social guardian, an outreach worker. Return
  83. Polish Legislative Assembly Return
  84. The Bundist daily Return


[Page 164]

The Sports Association “Morgnshtern”[1]

By Yisroel Demshtchak

Translated by Gooter Goldberg

In the spring of 1926 a group of young Bundists[2] gathered for a meeting chaired by the genteel Moyshe Goldberg[3]. Following a political lecture by Moyshe, the group considered (and adopted) the suggestion to organise a football (soccer) section. From among the fifteen comrades who joined, Moyshe Rozenfeld was elected captain. The next morning, using our meagre pennies we bought a ball and started our activities.

Our training sessions took place on the square behind the town hall. After an exhausting day's work we met and played into the night. However, we trained only three times a week and spent the other days at cultural activities. We were all dedicated Tsukunftists[4] and took part in the illegal, at the time, meetings of the Tsukunft.

Although we started with football, we have for the sake of physical education expanded our activities and organised other sections: handball, table tennis, gym, and light athletics. Our organisation grew considerably and we kept adding new sections.

In charge of the gym section was comrade Berl Shtaynberg, the son of Itche, the water carrier. A shoemaker by trade, without formal education, but a very able sportsman, he devoted himself to the promotion of sports among the young. All day long he spent at the shoe workshop and at night he learnt about physical education. He became the leading instructor of the Kalushin branch of “Morgnshtern”.

Apart from sporting activities we also organised outings to fields and forests, and the format of our activities won the approval of Kalushin parents who willingly sent their children to improve their physique at our sections. Adults also became members of our association, came to our meetings, and paid membership fees.

The association was led by ordinary, loyal young comrades: Moyshe Rozenfeld, Yisroel Demshtchak, Berl Shtayberg, Yehuda Arie Slomki, Yosl Obrontchka, Yoske Kapuze, Mayer Zylbershtayn, and Mayer Trayber. They all gave of their time and care for the maintenance of the association in which boys and girls straightened their backs after weary days at the work benches.

With our meagre finances we hired a locale. We also had to buy sundry equipment and sports clothing. All members paid membership dues, and twice yearly we organised gymnastic exercises in the town's fire-fighters' theatre hall, where we showed off our achievements. These performances were appreciated by the town's people.

We also used to tour neighbouring towns: Shedlets, Vengrov, and Sokolov. Our activities were even popular with our Christian neighbours. We also organised various lectures on topics appropriate for a sports association.

A lot of credit was owed by the organisation to Velvl Zhondzinski. After he returned from military service, he devoted himself completely to our work.

The most active comrades from “Morgnshtern” - Moyshe Rozenfeld, Berl Shtaynberg, Yoske Kapuze, and others – shared the fate of all Jews: deported by the German murderers to the gas chambers of Maidanek and Treblinka.

 

kal165e.jpg The soccer section of 'Morgnshtern'
The soccer section of “Morgnshtern”

 


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Translation of Yiddish article “די ספּאָרט־געזעלשאַפֿט 'מאָרגנשטערן” in Sefer Kałuszyn, Published by the Kałuszyner Societies in Israel, the United States of America, Argentine, France, and other countries, Tel-Aviv, 1961.
    Morgnshtern – Yiddish for Morningstar. Return
  2. Bundists - members of the Bund (Abbreviation of Algemeyner Yidisher Arbeter Bund in Lite, Poyln un Rusland; “General Jewish Workers' Union in Lithuania, Poland and Russia”), Jewish socialist party founded in Russia in 1897 (Encyc.Judaica).
  3. See also article by his older brother Avrum Goldberg: “Bund in Kałuszyn”. Return
  4. Members of Tsukunft (צוקונפֿט, Yiddish for future) which was the youth organization of the Bund. It was founded in the year 1910 and in the year 1916 it was officially named Jugent Bund Tsukunft. (Based on Wikipedia). Return

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