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[Page 159]

Parties and Youth Organizations

 

The Beginning of the Zionist Movement in Our Town

By Avraham-Itshak Slutsky

Translated by Oren Yulevitch

The first signs of the Zionist movement were seen in town immediately after the first Zionist congress in Basel. Educated youngsters, Yeshiva students and secular students were the first to be caught by the Zionist idea; they held to it and did their best to spread it in our town. It can be said that as the days passed, many people accepted it. Some memorable movement activists: Yehoshua-Mordechai Ziklig, Jacob Greenberg, Zalman Bresler and Avraham Meir Paperno, of blessed memory. The movement members and other supporters met in the attic belonging to Moshe-David Greenberg, of blessed memory; or at Ben-Zion Ziklig's house. They were very active in educating the children and youth in the Zionist spirit and ideas and organized Young Hebrew Readers after school class. During class, Slutsky was sometimes assigned the Reader role and he would read out stories and news from the “Little World” child magazine. Movement activists began spreading Anglo-Palestinian bank shares, vigorously and enthusiastically. Only a few people could afford the 10 rubles; therefore two-three people purchased a single share jointly. Draws were arranged in order to enable the less fortunate to own a share: twenty people each paid one half of a ruble each and the draw winner received the share.

A young Christian, Albert, the son of a clerk in Agrekov court, who was always hanging around with the young Jews, heard of the draws and wanted to take part in them. He paid the one half of a ruble and won. He was offered 10 rubles for the stock, but he refused to accept them and kept the shares. He held on to them like a precious gift that brings good fortune to its owner.

 

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Reb Zelig Singalovski and his wife Frida

 

The Zionist movement grew stronger with the Singalovski family's arrival in town. Zelig, the head of the family, was an important clerk in Agrekov estate management. His only daughter and five sons went to high schools and colleges in various cities in Russia. On school vacations they would come to their house on the estate grounds.

On a Nahamu Saturday afternoon, an announcement was made: one of the boys, Aharon Singalovski, will give a speech at the new synagogue. He was already known as a gifted speaker. On the appointed day, the synagogue was full and crowded. The speaker spoke passionately and touched many listeners' hearts. When he finished many approached him, and hugged and kissed him. Yakov Latoucha, who will ever be remembered, did even more: he lifted Aharon and wept tears of emotion.

Then the great man, the great scholar Reb Isar Nakritz, of blessed memory, took the stage and started preaching passionately and with much excitement for Zionist awareness, actions and deeds for the Settlement of the Land (Israel o.y.). His father-in-law, Reb David Gerayev, was shocked to hear his son-in-law. He raised his voice, anxiously: “Is it possible?! That this son-in-law of his, the family pride and jewel, had been trapped?! Had he given his hand to those youngsters who do not wait for the messiah anymore and joined those who pray for the end?!”. Other community elders zealots raised their voices too and the turmoil increased. Reb Isar had to cease speaking and left the stage, embarrassed. The meeting was dispersed.

However, the seed Reb Isar had sown, bore fruit: his son Haim Zelig Shalev immigrated to Israel in 1919, founded a mosaic and marble tiles factory –Mertsafia. Haim Zelig brought his parents, Reb Isar and his wife, to Israel; and all his brothers and sisters.

Aharon Singalovski now heads the “Ort” organization of which he was a founder. His brother, Yehoshua Singalovski, served as a teacher in a Jerusalem seminary for many years and was known to all the college students as Mr. Y. Avizohar. Sara Singalovski, Yehoshua and Aharon's sister, lives in Israel now.


[Page 161]

The “Hekhalutz” Movement

by Herzl Zukrovitsh

Translated by Sara Mages

The founder of “HeHalutz” [the pioneer] Movement in Lenin was Hershke Migdalovitsh.

A short young man with a dark complexion, his hair was curly and a smile graced his face. He was pleasant and humble. I've never seen him scolding someone, because he always explained his words with grace and pleasantness. He graduated a vocational school for carpentry. Since he was an intellectual young man he acquired knowledge in management and organization. The topics of the conversations with him were different and diverse - all streams of Zionism and all forms of pioneering, congresses, art, etc. Not everyone participated in the discussion because not everyone was familiar with the subject in question, but everyone listened to him with great interest.

He took upon himself to organize this movement under quite difficult conditions. First - because the movement couldn't hold meetings of political nature without the authorities' permission, second - because of the contempt of the local Jewish population, third - the indifferent attitude of the youth.

Most of the youth were craftsmen and worked in physical labor, therefore, “HeHalutz” was the natural place for every boy and girl from a working family.

Hershke overcame all the obstacles. On weekdays small groups met secretly in private homes, and on Saturday they left in groups of two or three in the direction of the “Bolnica” (hospital) or on the road to Makovitz - and met at the designated spot. The risk was great. Any suspicion, even the smallest, could have resulted in a severe punishment. The town's proximity to the border has worsened the situation, and everything with a political scent could've been interpreted as a relationship with the Soviet regime across the border.

The meetings, which were illegal in the eyes of the authorities, continued until the organizers were able to obtain an official confirmation. A hall was rented and there was no need to hold the meetings in secret.

The results weren't late to arrive. The members started to show interest in hakhshara [pioneer training]. Ziril Shosterman was the first to leave for a hakhshara Kibbutz near Kobrin. Six months later she was approved for immigration and immigrated to Israel. Many members followed suit and immigrated to Israel. Among them: Yakov Zukrovitsh, Moshe Gurevitch, Zelig Behon and others who joined a kibbutz. Others settled in various cities in Israel.

[Page 162]

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HeHalutz” chapter in Lenin
21 Tishrei, 5692 [2 October, 1931]

 

[Page 163]

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HeHalutz” Movement in Lenin

 

[Page 164]

Betar

by Ben Shamai

Translated by Sara Mages

Two young men in our town, both seventeen years old, and they are Y.B. and D.R, were captured by the ideology of the Betar Movement. The names - Jabotinsky, recruitment, legion and headquarters - appealed to them and spoke to their hearts. They turned to the main headquarters in Warsaw and asked for propaganda material. The headquarters filled their request and sent them the material. The two young men sat and studied the material, read it carefully, and decided to open a chapter of Betar in Lenin.

They turned to the Polish district governor and asked for a license. The license was granted in April 1930, and immediately, about two dozen young men and women met in the woods near the Jewish cemetery, and declared the founding of the nest.

This organization wasn't “created out of nothing” since most of the townspeople were Zionist. The youth worked faithfully and with great devotion for the “funds,” and was aware of every Zionist activity. A strong organizational framework for Zionist activities was created with the establishment of the nest.

A short time later, a crisis started in our organization. Several young people left and established the “Halutz” movement. In this manner, two organizations, which fought a stubborn and bitter struggle to acquire the local youth to their ranks, were established.

However, Betar overcame the crisis and started to work energetically. Active members came to the aid of the founders, and they are: Moshe Bebkin, Yisrael Ziklig (both were killed in the war), and Avraham Lilinberg (who lives with us in Israel). The organization, which contained nearly thirty members, didn't aspire to expand. As mentioned, our first activities took place in the forests around the town. When autumn arrived, the top floor at the Lilinberg's house was rented, and Betar was rewarded with its own club. It was a meeting place for games, reading and study. Lessons in the Hebrew language and the history of Zionism were also given there.

A short time later, Y.B. returned to his studies at the seminary for teachers in Grodno and D.R left, with the main headquarters' permission, for pioneering training. The management of the branch was given to Moshe Bebkin, Yisrael Ziklig, Avraham Lilinberg and Yitzchak Kolpenitzky who returned to the town after he completed his studies at the vocational school in Brisk.

D.R immigrated to Israel. His way wasn't easy, but he saw the fulfillment of some of his aspirations.

These few words will be a monument on the graves of these young people, who dreamed the dream of resurrection, but didn't live to see its solution because they were devoured by defiled killers.

 

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