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[Page 193]

We Make Aliyah to the Land

 

The Experience of Aliya and Actualization in Sanok[1]

Translated by Jerrold Landau

As we read the earlier chapters of the book, we saw the city with its variegated Zionist factions and wealth of ideological streams. Since its Jewish population was composed of various strata of the intelligentsia, whose leaders and activists, especially in the youth organizations, came from amongst the best of its youth – the academic youth, the studying youth, and the religious youth from amongst the finest students and scholars of the Beis Midrashes and Kloizes – many possessed knowledge and had opinions and ideas in the realms of factional ?? [[relating to parties or factions within the community -- if you have a better word, that is okay]] activity and the related ideological background. The essence of the activism and all associated with it led to the development of ideas and the proliferation of thinking and reckoning. The development of factional?? life went hand in hand with the steps toward the development and advancement of activism. One could see in this a day to day actualization of Descartes' adage, “I think – therefore I live”.

Photo page 193: Uncaptioned. The Office of the Land of Israel in Sanok. 1925

It was clear that ideas and thought served as pathways and means to the ultimate goal –practical action and actualization. We do not exaggerate if we say that all of the Zionist organizations of our city, whether for ideological reasons or due to their various roles, were imbued with the consciousness of actualization of Zionism – meaning aliya to the Land – either imminently or at a later time. Some promoted aliya as a chalutz under the auspices of pioneering aliya, replete with various forms of hachsharah (preparation) and scouting activities, and others promoted aliya with full rights in accordance with the Mandate government of that time – that is to say: through obtaining an aliya permit (certificate). The certificates depended on one's lot and one's merit: whether for a chalutz pioneer or whether as a student in a Yeshiva; whether as an invited expert or as an invitation by a family member who owned an enterprise; whether

[Page 194]

as a wealthy person or as a member of the middle class (class d), the real meaning of which was – a factional activist.

We will recall here that since our city was a gathering point for several cities and towns in the region, and since it was also a gathering point for the non-insignificant number of its own natives who were preparing for aliya as chalutzim who had completed hachsharah or under other auspices, the staff of the Land of Israel office visited at times from their central office in Krakow that was located adjacent to the national offices of the Zionist organization. They would come for a short time to examine candidates and authorize them to receive an aliya certificate. We will point out here that these “market days” of the Land of Israel office in our city added in no small part to the Zionist experience, the reality of aliya and actualization in our city, in all corners of life in our city and among all Jewish circles.

We will also mention here that in our city, as in the rest of the cities and communities, aliya without “certificates” and without any “category” proliferated alongside the aliya with “certificates” and based on “category”. This was the aliya of the Maapilim, or as it was later called, Aliya Bet. This continued on to those waves of aliya which were organized by our communal national bodies, especially during the period between the Third and Fourth Aliya, and continued further on to those which were organized by the groups of olim themselves when they did not have the desire or ability to wait for any other opportunities for their aliya.

Photo page 194: Mordechai (Motia) Gerszon, at a farewell ceremony with his family members before his aliya to the Land. 1925

To our dismay, we do not have the possibility of utilizing numbers and presenting a great deal of detail. However, we are able to establish that in general, our city of Sanok received its quota of every category of aliya certificates, and it also took part in every wave and era of aliya, even before the era of organized aliya in our time and generation. There was the aliya in order to “grace the earth of our holy Land” such as that of Rabbi Schimshon-Michel Feller of blessed memory, the rabbinical judge of our city (see page 87), and that of Rabbi Yisraelche Maeir of blessed memory and others. There was the aliya of the earlier pioneers (Shlomo Dank, Y. Amster, Aharon Kramer of blessed memory, and later – Shraga Weinfeld, Yisrael Schneebaum, Shimon Gershon, and others). There was the aliya to join kibbutzim, such as Itka Weill, Tzila Werner (Tobiasz), Yudel Gartenberg, Menachem Wenig and his wife Batia Leser, Yosef Holloschuetz, Zosia Steinbrecher, and others. There was the aliya of the wealthy people (Capitalists) such as Reb David-Yoel Weinfeld, Reb Alter Maeir of blessed memory. There was the aliya of the tourists, which was a trial aliya in preparation for permanent aliya, such as that of Reb Yitzchok Hirschfeld, Reb Meier Muschel of blessed memory, Menachem Finter, and others. Some of them returned and are living with us today – may they live long – and others did not succeed in returning and were overtaken by the Holocaust and destruction.

We must not neglect to mention the aliya of our townsfolk who made aliya indirectly from our city, but under the influence of

[Page 195]

the Zionist force and energy in their hearts and the Zionist influence that pulsated inside of them from the time of their life in our city, from the Zionist atmosphere and Zionist tradition, from the doctrine of Zion and the love of Zion that they absorbed from early on. We refer to those who moved away to different places, countries or even far-off continents due to the contingencies of the times and life conditions. We also refer to the few survivors of the Holocaust who made aliya during the time between the end of the war and the establishment of the state. That was a brief era, but rich in action and tension for our settlement here in the land, and full of suffering and tribulations for the survivors in the Displaced Persons Camps who made efforts to make aliya to our Land, but had their route closed off before them by the Mandate authorities. They made efforts to make aliya through the massive illegal immigration, which was thwarted for the most part by the authorities who deported them, even after they had already reached the shores of the Land, to the camps in Cyprus or even back to Germany.

Photo page 195: Reb Yisraelche Maeir as he is making aliya to the Land

Photo page 195: At the train station and on the train cars before the aliya of Yehudit Schwerd (Shachdi)

[Page 196]

Photo page 196: Rabbi Alter Maeir as he makes aliya to the Land

As we linger on this point and return in our memory to those days and those moments, we recall with a special trembling the era of the large-scale illegal immigration, which was particularly difficult in its tragedy and particularly bright in the bravery exhibited by the illegal immigrants. This was the illegal immigration (Haapalah) of the boat “Exodus from Europe in 5707” (“Exodus”) that included 4,500 Maapilim – men, women and children – including several Sanok natives as can be seen from the existing photographs. These were Holocaust survivors who took refuge in the various Displaced Persons Camps in Germany in 1947 and took part in the Haapalah in one large ship. After terrible tribulations of travel, and through brave and severe battles with the Mandatory authorities who pursued them with weapons throughout the entire journey, the ship reached the shores of the Land. However, the stubborn, evil authorities of that time did not allow them to enter the Land, and they were all sent back to the Displaced Persons camps in Germany. However, they all finally came to us, and they found their appropriate place for life here in the Land, on the most fitting Land in their most natural home.

*

Since to our dismay, we do not have official, detailed material about the episodes of aliya from our city, let these lists and reminiscences that come up from time to time serve as an opportunity for memory and memorialization. Let these few photographs of the survivors of the conflagration, attached to these lines written here, also serve as a prod to memory.

E. Sh.

Photo page 197: The Haapalah ship “Exodus from Europe” (Exodus) in the waters of the coast of Haifa, before being turned away by the British soldiers of the Mandate

The Maapilim of the Exodus

Elimelech Bernstein
Yitzchak Bernstein
Feiga Deutsch and her family
Etshia Horowitz
Sonia Horowitz
Luba Wilner and her family
Simcha Wilner
Sonia Wilner
Izak Wilner
Leah Wilner
Azriel Regenbogen and his family
Izak Pinsker
Elimelech Roth
Photo page 197: Members of the secretariat of the camp committee whose people were among the Maapilim of the “Exodus from Europe”. This picture includes the Sanok native Simcha Wilner, third from the right

_________

Translator's Footnote

  1. Actualization here refers to Zionist actualization – i.e. aliya. return

 

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