Mrs. Snir met her uncle again after 23 years, when he visited Eretz Israel in the forties. It was then that he decided to come to Israel, but his plans were realized only after the establishment of the State, when he moved to Jerusalem. He was happy to spend the last years of his life in the eternal city.
Rabbi Avida translated "Ecclesiastes" into Yiddish. He was an
outstanding intellectual, whose achievements in the sphere of Zionism and
Jewish education in many countries were of great importance.
Rabbi Avida spent his last years in Jerusalem. He was beloved by all who knew him in the
Diaspora and in Israel.
In the pre-war years he used to divide his time between his business activities and social obligations to which he devoted most of his energy. At the age of 60, Alfred Blei divided his property between his employees, retaining for himself only a modest income. Integrity, modesty, devotion to public causes, constant readiness to help the needy and to intervene whenever and wherever it was needed, tolerance and nobility, these were the outstanding characteristics of the unforgettable Alfred Blei, who was, unfortunately, destined to serve as the last Chairman of the Jewish Committee in Plotzk.
In the post-war years he made great efforts to locate Plotzk-born survivors and served, as the author puts it, as the "Post Office Box" of Plotzk-born Jews.
The Polish Government nominated him as a member of a Special Court for the Warsaw region which tried cases of Nazi murderers.
This article contains many biographical data on Alfred Blei, his communal
activities, business relations and personality.
Landau opposed the trend of Yiddish poetry at that time, which was influenced by political motivations, advocating instead pure-art poetry. He was very devoted to his fellow-poets and assisted them as much as he could in publishing their works.
He died of a heart-attack at the early age of 48.
|Drawing by Yaacov Guterman|
The late Prof. Eisenberg devoted his energies to the spreading of Hebrew and Jewish knowledge among the Jewish youth of the town and their education in the spirit of Zionism. As a Hebrew teacher in the Jewish Secondary School of Plotzk he fought the prevailing tendencies to minimize the teaching of these subjects, but did not always succeed. After a valiant struggle for his ideas which were opposed by factors which did not appreciate sufficiently the importance of the teaching of Jewish subjects, he had to resign his post and moved to another locality, where he continued his pedagogical activities.
The author describes the foundation and closing of the "Gymnasium" (the local Jewish secondary school) and pays tribute to this institution which had an outstanding influence on the spiritual life of the town's younger pro-Zionist generation.
The first group of scouts, "Hashomer Hatzair", originated in that school. Mr. Eisenberg devotes part of his article to the developments which took place in the above youth-movement until it became a left-wing radical movement. After leaving the movement, under the influence of his father, he found his way to a then newly established Zionist youth organization, "Akiba", which adhered to the traditional way of life and endeavored to disseminate Hebrew language and culture.
The memories describe the author's early boyhood-years in his grandfather's house near Plotzk. His grandfather was a "Feldscher" (medical practitioner without diploma). The way he entered his profession throws light on the pattern of life in Jewish towns in Poland in the second half of the 19th century.
The way of life of the author's family at the outskirts of Plotzk where "Jewish islands" existed in a purely Christian neighborhood - is lovingly described.
Although Jewish children suffered sometimes from the Christian boys of their age, the general relations between Jews and Gentiles were quite satisfactory. The landscape and childhood experiences in the gardens and on the lawns of those non-Jewish suburbs of the town, including the Convent of the Mariavits, also find mention.
The author remembers several friends of his father who were active in the sphere of Hebrew teaching, and describes their influence.
The last part of this article deals with the panic and helplessness of all
Polish citizens and especially of the Jews during the first stages of the war
(September 1939). The author and his parents fled from town in order to escape
the invading Nazi armies, but had to return later on to Nazi-occupied Plotzk.
|Drawing by Yaacov Guterman|
Mr. Rubin tells us details of the biographies of those four friends who were, about 50
years ago, "carriers of the banner of culture and art" in Plotzk. He
quotes a fragment of a Yiddish poem, published in that periodical, dealing with
the tragedy of Jews who fight and die for the countries of their residence, yet
their sacrifice is not appreciated.
Other activities included yearly "bazaars", whose proceeds were handed over to the Keren Kayemet.
In 1934, when the General Zionist Organization was split into two groups (General Zionists "A" and "B") the Plotzk branch remained faithful to its beloved and popular leader, Yitzhak Grinbaum. As a result of that split, the "Hanoar Hazioni A" and "Akiba" youth-organizations were set up.
"Agudat Zion was often visited by representatives of the National
Executive of the Zionist Organization in Warsaw. It took part in all national
gatherings, conferences and campaigns of the Z. O.
Its most popular source of income was the "Blue Box". Youth movement members installed these boxes in almost every Jewish house where it symbolized the link between the Jewish family and the upbuilding of the National Home in Eretz Israel.
The 1931 anniversary year was outstanding as regards the sums collected and the positive response of Plotzk Jewry.
Keren Kayemet continued its fundraising until the outbreak of World War II. Its
last successful drive took place in May 1939, when Wizo ran a K. K. L. bazaar.
Nobody knew then that this would be the last K. K. L. function in Plotzk.
Fishl Fliderblum, one of the leaders of this movement, served as the last Jewish Community chairman and was elected a delegate to the last pre-war Zionist congress, which took place in Switzerland.
Zeirei Zion eventually united with "Right Poalei Zion" and other
smaller groups and together formed the "United Party", (equivalent to
Mapai of Israel).
Krakowski's place was used as a "Hachshara" (Training Farm) for Jewish youth preparing for Aliya to Eretz Israel. Many pioneers of various youth-organizations worked on that farm. The Jews of Plotzk were proud of its existence, which was proof that Jews were able to do agricultural work, and do it well.
The Krakowski family's desire was to establish a new agricultural settlement in Israel,
which would absorb immigrants from Plotzk. Only one of the families -
Tuvia - managed to go to Israel and he is now a member of Kibbutz Merhavya in the
They were trained in various branches of manual labor (at a saw-mill, oil factory, tannery, etc.) and in spite of the fact that most of them came from well-to-do families, they were always happy and satisfied with their way of life. They were idealistic and saw themselves as pioneers of great Jewish masses who would follow them to Israel where they would turn into workers and farmers.
The author describes the daily way of life of these youngsters. Their hard work and the nature of their leisure hours: reading and exchanging views on their future life as pioneers in Israel.
He concludes by demanding that the Jewish public of Plotzk help the
"Hachshara" center, since it contributed so much
both to Zionism and to the preparation of pioneering immigrants to the
Land of Israel.
While the "Hehalutz" organization consisted of young people over the age of 18, who were preparing to go to Eretz Israel, its sister-organization "Hehalutz Hatzair" (The Young Pioneer) had as members younger boys and girls. This last-mentioned organization prepared the youth for their future life as pioneers and concentrated on cultural activities (teaching of Hebrew, history of Zionism and the Jewish Workers' movement, etc.).
In 1931 a "kibbutz" was established in Plotzk by two young boys (Benzion Altman and Aron Bricker) who were delegated for that purpose by the Central Committee of the organization. A year earlier two young men from Eretz Israel came to town and exerted a great influence on the younger generation there.
In the thirties many young boys and girls left town for Eretz Israel where most of them lived as pioneers, either in kibbutzim or in other forms of settlement. The number of "Alyia" candidates constantly increased until the outbreak of the Second World War.
The young pioneers of Plotzk who did not succeed in reaching Israel (then under
British Mandatory Government) were murdered, like so many others, by the Nazis
during the Second World War.
Among other sports organizations there existed in the thirties a local branch of "Hapoel", affiliated to the central organization of this name. All sorts of sport activities were carried out by "Hapoel" football, ping-pong (table-tennis), athletics, physical exercises, gymnastics and bicycle-riding.
This organization was established in 1931. Its members distinguished themselves especially in football and some of them were members of the regional team.
Thanks to the devotion of some of the founders and sponsors of this and other sports organizations (like "Maccabi", "Stern" and "Morgenstern"), various spheres of sport became popular among Jewish boys and girls in town. Their activities made the Jewish public proud of their younger generation.
Like others, most of these Jewish young sportsmen and sportswomen perished in
the years 1939-1945.
"Mizrahi" members cooperated with other Zionist groups and had considerable influence in town. In 1937 two of their representatives were elected to the Kehila Council.
The author regrets that lack of material on this subject does not enable him to publish a more detailed report on that movement. Very few "Mizrahi" members succeeded to come to Israel in time and even fewer survived the Holocaust.
Among its founders: Jakob Aszkenazi, Szlomo Wilenski, Abraham Flaks.
Jeszayahu Muszkat, Reuwen Kanarek, Herszel Majranc, Efraim Dawid Elberg,
Jechiel Wosulk, Szlomo Rozen.
"Herzlia" developed educational activities in Plotzk, organized Hebrew courses and trained its members to become devoted Zionists and go on Alyia.
The development period of the organization continued till 1922, when most of
its leaders left Plotzk. Despite its relatively short existence,
"Herzlia" played an important role in the Zionist education of the
young Jewish generation in that period.
"Poalei Zion" took an active part in the elections of the Jewish community, the municipality and the Parliament. They also established evening courses for workers and organized them in trade unions, which were responsible for strikes in several workshops, as a result of which the employers had to pay higher wages.
A dramatic circle and a sports club named "Stern" (Star) were established in 1925.
"Poalei Zion" members distinguished themselves in their bitter fight against anti-Semitism in the pre-war years and as anti-Nazi fighters during the war. Some of them survived and live today in Israel, but the majority perished with the whole community during the holocaust.
Members mentioned: Chaim Makowski, Olesznik, Lamaniec, Zilberstein,
Czok, Ostrower, Kowal, Cukier, Josef Malanek, Sendzen Wint, Magner, Okalica.
The author describes how study-groups and summer-camps were organized, the
first of which took place in a village near Plotzk in 1929. That camp was
attended by Zeev Sherf as a representative of the Central Committee in Warsaw.
Several young boys distinguished themselves in leading the movement, especially Fishl Fliderblum, who helped those youth groups in many ways. He was elected member of the Plotzk Municipal Committee and served as the last Chairman of the Jewish Kehila before the holocaust.
Some members of the "Freiheit, organization immigrated to Israel both
legally with immigration certificates and illegally on "Maapilim"
ships. The last of its members arrived in Haifa in September 1939.
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