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[Page 234]

The tribulations of Reb Dov Berish Noyman

Many of the sons of our town, that live in the land [Palestine/Israel], still remember this picture from 30-40 years ago: On a corner of the street in Koło, on the Sabbath or a weekday, a few people stand and excitedly bargain with each other. What was happening? They are busy with the settlement of the holy land. At the head of the talkers was Rav Barish; He sees the foundation of the settlements as the prime reason that will bring us the redemption.

A committed Jew, one of the talkers, stopped them with a passage from the bible: “If G-d does not build the house, they that labor, labor in vain”

A man like Rav Barish was not scared by a biblical verse. For every verse he heard he produced two or three others that proved that G-d wanted us to return to Zion. Here is a proof he pulled out of the Talmud: -“Every one who lives in the Land of Israel, - resembles one who has a God, and every one who lives in the Diaspora - resembles one that is Godless, and you can look it up further in “Writings” 29.

One of his arguing dissenters asked:
– “What will we do if the whole land is a dessert?”

Rav Barish did not retreat before this and immediately answered him:
– “It is written: It is better to live in the dessert of the Land of Israel and not to live in th e luxury of the Diaspora.”

Rav Barish's yearnings for the land of Israel awakened bitter feelings in his house. As the Zionist activity in the town spread, so his thoughts turned to acquiring the commitments of influential people who that would be the first to make Aliya to the Land [of Israel] and work it's earth.

Every moment he could spare from work he spread “propoganda brochures” Every new book….

[Page 235]

…. and newspaper that discussed the land of Israel – he immediately obtained. His income was so meager that he had to sell some of the valuables from his home.

Once – so his relatives tell us – a valuable item disappeared from his home. His wife was suspicious of the neighbors, and repented with a great sorrow. Then he was convinced by Rav Brish with heartfelt emotions:

“No strange hand touched it, the item. And, I am sure that when we go up to the Land of Israel we will find it”. His wife understood the hint, she understood from what he said that he had probably bought a share in the colonial bank. And then the household became peaceful again.

After many efforts, and when all the obstacles that prevented Rav Barish from making Aliya [to Israel] were removed, the news was spread to everyone: “After the Sabbath, with the help of G-d, the second family will leave the Diaspora”.

The Zionists in the village were proud of Rav Barish and his shining example: He was not pressed to make Aliya [to Israel], because he had bread in his basket [a decent living]. He was leaving a job that provided a decent income, that of beadle in the synagogue, to go and suffer together with the first [Jewish] farmers in the land [of Israel].

We won't tell here the laudatory proclamations which his friends made: “We will follow in his footsteps,” “we will support as best we can,” “he will be our bank.”

At the parting party, at the Zionist Union, they brought him a set of silver utensils in recognition. But, of all the parties, the most impressive was the parting from the synagogue, where he had served for many years. On the last Sabbath, after the musaf prayer, he went up to the ark, kissed it and declared in front of the congregation “This is my last kiss!”

And even at this hour there were skeptics who said: “Don't say hop before you jump.”

His son Tsvi, who lives in Jerusalem, tells: “We disembarked from the ship at Haifa port. Father met a Jew at the hotel, one of the men from the Union who was searching for candidates fro the baron's [Rothschild] settlements. He suggested that father travel to Nazareth, to meet the chief manager.

Father did as he suggested and we went to the Melchamiah (Nechamiah) settlement. The Katz family received us there.

At this settlement we received our first agricultural training. We started to work at sunrise and finished at sunset.

We were at Melchamiah for a short time. From there we went to Petach Tikva. We bought a young almond orchard, and the seller, let G-d remember his name well, cheated us in this purchase; the land was covered with wild weeds and there was no water for irrigation – we had to bring water from a distance of many kilometers.”

[Page 236]

The sale terms – here adds Mendel – were deceptive: “If within a year the buyer does not pay the full amount that he owes – he forfeits all his money.”

Lack of experience in working a grove, worries in how to exist (they lived from the little that was left) and the protracted effort to procure a loan – all these depressed his spirit. As can be remembered, the people of his town promised to support him; but they did not answer him in his hour of need. Of course this negatively affected his care of the small asset – the 50 dunam orchard. Even when he came home he found it was not as he left it – no furniture, no clothing and no food.

When Rav Barish did not get the loan, which might have gotten him out of his difficulties, he had to sell the young orchard and so lost most of his money.

If only he had held on to it – so says his son-in-law – today we would be counted amongst the richest of Petach Tikva – the orchard was the area where the center of the town is today.

His wife helped him in those hard days; she baked treats which she sold to the sons of the settlement. His son Tsvi found work in the Baron's orchards. He came home after a long days work and brought with him a basked of oranges which as their main food source.

Many changes came throughout his life, but Tav Barish did not falter in his path. He grasped at every suggestion, as a drowning man grasps at a straw. “Without settlement there is no land of Israel” he would tell the children of his home. And, when during family discussions, the questions arose “Where will you get money from?” he answered:
”Who said that we would buy a readymade orchard? We will buy a piece of land and plant it ourselves.”

Land agents 'smelled' that he still had a small amount of money and offered him a sandy lot where the Tel Aviv harbor is located today.

Rav Barish and his sons went to investigate the area which was up for sale. The price was very cheap. The agents asked for an advance and promised to transfer the title in the next few days.

Suddenly a man appeared, came up to Rav Barish and warned him: “Are you crazy, what are you doing? Put the money in the Tsvi Fund. This is not place for an orchard.”

The man's warnings frightened Rav Barish and the purchase was cancelled at the last minute.

The daughter tells: “The frequent appeals near and far were like a voice in the desert. In the end father's confidence ebbed and lessened our chances of taking root in the land. He knew tha this return to the Diaspora could strengthen the hand of the haters of Zion, and so he delayed his exit from the land from month to month.”

He waited for a reply from his brother in England – his last chance for success. He wrote him a letter full of appeals: “Help me realize my lifelong dream! Without it my life is not worth living!”

One day the disappointing reply arrived: “If your position is so bad – come to England, here you will find a bountiful living.”

[Page 237]

He paid no attention to his brother's suggestion because he waited for other replies from various institutions – but even they did not bring him the happy news. In those days he did not have the signs of irritation; he was ready for all those troubles.

He ignored his wife's demands to return to Kolo as soon as possible. He was firm: “As long as there is bread and onion in the house we won't move.” But, when the rest of the household attached him, he relented. He decided to go down [emigrate] to the Diaspora for a while. In the end he would return to the place that made life worth living.

One who did not see Rav Barish return to Kolo did not see a man deep in sorrow. All his friends, the sons of our village, left him; they did not want to talk to him under any circumstances, good or bad. Even the business people who always spoke highly of him ignored him. They didn't even ask: “Do you have food for a meal?” How are you supporting your household?”

When he was in a bad way he traveled to his brother in England to find work and an income. He managed to quickly find work and saved a respectable amount of money to send to his family as well as to travel of the land of Israel a second time. When he returned to Poland he found peace. His children found work and saved penny by penny to devote to his life target. He even learned to become a draughtsman in the town of Kalish, and the family started living well.

But Rav Barish had decided to go and live in Israel come what may. He traveled to England again so that he would be able to buy a piece of land in Israel. When he returned to Warsaw he fell victim to thieves who stole all his savings from him. He was left with enough money for a single journey.

He went to live in Israel for a second time in 1923. He wanted to own land – but had neither enough money nor strength. The clerks did not recognize his efforts in Poland for the Funds and he remained alone, without any help.

He learned to be a butcher in order to bring his family to Israel, and slaughtered chickens in Jerusalem. He made new friends that supported him and made it possible for him to bring his wife and family to join him.

He saw himself as a citizen of the town and even if it was still unattainable, he still believed that the day was not far off when he would acquire his own piece of land. This never happened.


[Page 238]

The Enthusiast (Shlomo Treiber)

Among the Zionists in Kolo, Shlomo Treiber was highly regarded for his practical and pragmatic approach to any public activity, namely seeking involvement and action, always leading with personal example and required the same of his friends. He was zealous and strong in his views and argued strongly against those defending Orthodox Jewry who at the time were against settlement in Israel.

Since purchasing the land was the basic condition to enable settlement he devoted much time and energy to JNF (Jewish National Fund) activities and enlisted the help and contribution of youth of all sections towards this goal. He devoted all his spare time to Zionism. When asked about his whereabouts, his relatives would reply: “kehilashe ge'sheften” (busy with community affairs). He devoted time to issues requiring arbitration as his decisions were generally trusted and respected.

I remember a specific incident from my early youth, in which his quick actions and organization skills stood out and prevented a disaster. It was on a June day in 1901 when a boy came running from the river Vaertah's public swimming beach shouting: 'Jews are being beaten.” A large crowd surrounded the boy who told about a group of incited Polish boys stoning unprotected Jews. Everyone was dumbfounded. Shlomo Treiber recovered first and started gathering people around him to run to the assault site, despite cautioning voices who advised him to wait and put his trust in intercessors. He ran to the (Jewish) study centre and called out to all the brave hearted “why should we wait for the “natshalnick's response when we have the answer.” He got iron rods from his parent's store and warehouses to arm his group. A few more assistants joined them as they passed through the market and the group, of about thirty men. Heading to the confrontation site, Shlomo took command of the fight. A shower of stones landed on the helping Jews but within an hour the tables turned and the defenders gained the upper hand. The assaulting gang retreated shamefully, with many beaten and injured, while the Jews went back to their homes.

In 1924 Shlomo emigrated to Israel (made aliya), as his love of the land did not allow him to remain in the Diaspora. He left his family in Kolo, in order to bring them later to a ready made home and so alleviate the difficulties of early absorption. He persuaded his younger brother, Shmuel, to join him, as two were better than one.

The early Kolo pioneers were associated with the early settlements. They tell about his enthusiasm and his strong will to be among the farmers of the land. They spent some time at the Michaeli's farm, but could not make a success of it. In those days they saw a need for workers in the electrical company and so they left for the city. Shlomo was that as temporary employment. When he perceived a chance for settlement on the land he went back to Poland to bring his family.

In 1924 he returned with his family. His plan was to purchase some land and build a farm. He rejected friends' offers for employment with the National Foundation; he had not closed his business in Kolo for that. Love of the land was beating strong in his heart.

He had gone through many experiences but had never reached his goal. He took on many different jobs to provide for his large family and waited for an opportunity to be able to purchase a small hold (plot of land.) He saw his first success in the lad of Israel as his adjustment to the hard physical work. Different factors prevented him form actualizing his larger plan, to build a farm. And so he founded a small factory for agricultural machines and tools. He wanted to be close to the tillers of the soil (farmers.)

His life long dream was fulfilled by two of his daughters who live in the Galilee, one lived in Kibbutz Dafna and the other in Mosha Chakuk.


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