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Ten Years of Zionism in Stanislawow

(5665-5674 1905-1914)

by Meir Hanish

Translated by Jerrold Landau

A.

Just as the population of Stanislawow grew due to the decline of its neighbor Tysmienica, which had formerly been the district city; Stanislawow also took over the central place of Kolomyja from a Zionist perspective. At its outset, Zionism in Galicia followed three paths. The first was the movement for the settlement of the Land of Israel that was established here, and the “Ahavat Zion” group in Tarnow that established the Galician moshava of Machanaim -- which was similar to the Odessa committee of Chovevei Zion in Russia. The second was nationalistic-political Zionism, which aspired to renew the face of Jewish life in the lands in which they lived and to act in the political and economic arenas of the state alongside its desire for a Jewish national homeland In the Land of Israel -- its center was Lwow. The third was political, congress Zionism that set up its center for Zionist activity throughout Galicia and Bukovina in Kolomyja. Kolomyja was also the seat of the official agency of the “Treasury for the Settlement of the Jews” of London, which served as a type of official financial institution authorized by the state in the name of “Yiddishe Nationaler Bankfarein” (Jewish National Bank Union). There was also a general Zionist committee there, with the participation of the leaders of the movement in Galicia and Bukovina. On the other hand, Stanislawow did not stand out at all from a Zionist perspective during the early period, and it certainly had no claim to take a central position in the movement. This was due primarily to the spiritual state of the Jewish population, which was still missing spiritual-cultural movement worthy of its name despite having progressed rapidly and significantly in terms of civilization. The knowledge level of the Jews of Stanislawow was generally superficial and professionally based, lacking in the spirit of Torah and historical Judaism.

However, with the rapid development of the city and its economic flourishing, the Jewish community of Stanislawow also grew, both in numbers and in its status within Galician Jewry. When the Zionists of Galicia audited the organizational setup of the national Zionist organization at the end of the 19th century in order to set it on more effective organizational foundations, they saw fit to split Galicia into three separate districts with district committees in Lwow, Krakow and Stanislawow, all of them subordinate to the central Zionist committee in Lwow. (Later a fourth district committee was set up for the district of Podolia, with its headquarters in Tarnopol.)

The designating of Stanislawow as the Zionist center for the southeastern district of Galicia, which happened primarily

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due to the important geographical location of that city as a crossroads of five railway lines, aroused the ill feelings of the Zionists of Kolomyja. It was clear to them that there would not be two centers of Zionism next to each other, and with the establishment of the central committee in Stanislawow, the central status of Kolomyja in the Zionist movement would decline in favor of Stanislawow. However, even before this, when the Galician organization was organized in accordance with the centralization principle and led by the Zionist center in Lwow without an intermediary, the Zionist of Kolomyja were never fully satisfied with this center, and at times the winds of opposition and rebellion against the central committee in the capital of Vienna began to blow. Even though they had certain rights, they saw no way of coming to terms with the decline of Kolomyja, with its past history and significant rights in the movements, and they refused to agree that young Stanislawow would rise to the helm, for it had no tradition and Zionist rights and did not even have any organizational experience on a general scale. They expressed their opposition by refusing to participate with the new district committee and refusing to carry out its directives. This situation lasted for several years until Stanislawow was finally victorious over Kolomyja. No small role in this victory was played by Dr. Braude who had come to serve as a rabbi of the progressive community in Stanislawow in the year 5660 (1900) and also participated actively in the leadership of Zionist affairs as a member of the district committee there. He imbued his spirit, the spirit of consistent Zionism and political action, onto this committee and also made it into an effective apparatus of the central leadership of Lwow, where his influence was also quite significant.

B.

When I settled in Stanislawow in the year 5665 (1905), there was a broad Zionist movement, albeit not particular deep. It was split into many arenas, without a unified central organization directing it. A wide branched Zionist origination was set up with its different factions: the central and general “Eretz Yisrael” group to which most of the Zionists of the city belonged, women's organizations such as “Rachle”, academic organizations such as “Bar Kochba” (later a second academic organization was founded named “Giscala” -- i.e. Gush Chalav[1]), an organization of officials and commercial workers called “Achva”, the “Safa Berura” Hebrew school, the “Hakoach” sporting organization, as well as Zionist clubs of the various schools. Earlier, a local committee existed consisting of representatives of the Zionist organizations headed by Dr. Rubin (Reuven) Junas, one of the important powers of the local intelligentsia youth. He was an enthusiastic Zionist with talents as an orator. However, the local committee was disbanded with the establishment of the district committee, and the directed and coordinated apparatus for Zionist activity was removed from the Stanislawow movement; for the district committee, with its mandate to concern itself with general issues, could not dedicate itself specifically to local needs. The local movement in Stanislawow was also deprived due to the fact that

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the district committee attracted the finest of the local powers for its own activities.

The “Eretz Yisrael” group was in the top rank. Its members came from the circles of citizens, householders and merchants, most of whom were not fit for the mantle of leadership. Therefore, its leadership was primarily in the hands of the intelligentsia of the youth. The president of the organization, Dr. Shmuel Schorr of the large, honorable Halpern family, was Torah observant and well educated, however he had no organizational prowess. He filled two positions, for he also served as head of the district council. His energy and initiative were therefore divided up. Several other of the younger leaders also moved to the district committee. When I entered the “Eretz Yisrael” organization, I founda shadow of a group. Its large hall on Olica Street was usually deserted. Its members did not get together, no lectures were arranged there, and the bookcase, a remnant from the library of earlier days, stood in a closed, abandoned corner. When I obtained the rusty key from the director, Mr. Pesach Almer, and opened the bookcase, I found, alongside the worn out books, several lone volumes of Talmud and other torn books that were missing pages, with a moldy smell emanating from them. Those tractates were the remnants of the Talmud set that had been purchased in its time by the Hebrew club that was affiliated with the organization. The organization neglected its property and did not guard it appropriately. At that time, I remembered, with great longing, the full shelves of books in the fine library of the “Beit Yisrael” organization in Kolomyja, which were carefully guarded and cared for with extra love by my friend Mottel Berger. At that time I had not yet imaged how far Stanislawow, which was saturated with Zionism as a pomegranate, was from the true Jewish sensibilities and appreciation of the value of its spiritual treasures, and how much difficulty a seeker of a Hebrew book must endure before he would find such.

In this regard, it is perhaps worthwhile to mention two facts that may shed light on the spirit that pulsated during that first period among the highest echelons of Zionists here, most of whom were strangers to Zion and were still immersed, through their education and intelligence, in the world of assimilation. Dr. Reuven Junas, the chairman of the first district committee in Stanislawow, speaks harshly against the Hebrew newspaper “Hamagid” for is critical stance toward the leadership of political Zionism. By his recommendation, the committee accepted a ban. (If “Hamagid” continued to publish such articles, it would be the duty of every Zionist to ban it. This came from the accounting of Reuven Fahen of the “Hamagid” committee.) As Mr. Yeshayahu Horowitz told me, the leadership of the “Eretz Yisrael” organization, when it came to take its first steps in its newspaper reading hall, did not order even one Hebrew newspaper. When such a request came to it from its Hebrew members, the leadership pushed them aside with a curt response: those who have the need for a Hebrew newspaper should order it on their own account.

The daily Zionist activity, especially in the realm of publicity and organization, was primarily in the hands of the “Bar Kochba” academic organization, whose then president was the law student Michel Spiegel, a serious and energetic youth, albeit sickly (he died in his prime), and the “Rachle” women's organization. Some of the members of “Bar Kochba” came from assimilationist surroundings and were far from

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Judaism, but were prepared to defend the honor of their nation at the risk of their lives. Others brought with them some Jewish knowledge and familiarity with Jewish customs and way of life from their parents' home. They also spoke Yiddish, and they were the Zionist activists on the Jewish street. In the “Rachle” organization, headed by the honorable, aged intelligent woman Mrs. Mina Horowitz, there was a full row of top notch Zionists, such as the secretary Regina Meller, the sisters Henryka Horowitz and Tova Landau (the granddaughters of Reb Lipa Horowitz), Sarah Tahen-Riterman, Klara Zinger, Malka Bacher, and others who filled their Zionist roles with seriousness and sincerity.

C.

The “Achva” organization of officials and business workers, which I also joined as a member, was already affiliated with the “Poale Zion” party, but still participated in the Zionist organization. David Shlomo Lichtman was its representative on the district council. This organization was imbued with life and activity, with a group of energetic and energizing members, primarily young people, and also including some Orthodox and Hassidic householders. Some of the members had a very dim understanding of Zionism, and they were primarily interested in the dance evenings and Zionist celebrations. Some were involved in the class struggle, and were drawn in primarily from the booklets and pamphlets. For the most part, such people were given over to extreme Yiddishism, and to them Hebrew was a synonym for reactionism. Social class consciousness was not yet developed in them at all, and the movement did not conduct any efforts in this arena. Later, activity to shorten the work week of the assistants and officials in the workplaces, who were taken advantage of by their employers, was organized. During this activity, strong and forceful means were used against the stubborn workplace owners, causing confrontation with the police and the imprisonment of several members of “Poale Zion”. Nathan Keis, the son of Reb Avraham Keis, was among those arrested.

I took upon myself the role of lecturer on cultural affairs in “Achva”, but my concept of this was different of that of the head of the organization committee. In contrast with his tendency to restrict it to concern for sporting and musical celebrations, my tendency was to broaden its horizons to include lectures and courses in Hebrew and Jewish history. I had the opportunity to begin my activity with a significant attraction -- that is by arranging a Shalom Aleichem celebration with the participation of Shalom Aleichem himself. The celebration was successful from all perspectives. However, related to this, I found it necessary to cease my activities and membership in “Achva” since it had left the general Zionist Organization in accordance with a directive from the central “Poale Zion” office. The reason for its leaving seemed to be nothing other than extreme dogmatism (the Socialists' ban on joint activity with the bourgeois Zionists). My separation from “Achva” later also led to my separation from the “Poale Zion” party.

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The “Achva” organization[2] was founded in the year 5658 (1898) or 5659 (1899) in the Jewish Business Workers' Club (Yiddisher Handel-Angeshtelten Klub) affiliated with the “Eretz Yisrael” Zionist organization. The members of “Achva” were small scale tradesmen and merchants, as well as a number of workers, employees and official in the business establishments. Its first chairman was Mordechai Pefer. Zalman Hertz, Shlomo David Lichtman, Yosef Goldschlag, P. Gold, Avner Kuner and others were members of the committee. After some time, the “Achva” organization terminated its affiliation with the “Eretz Yisrael” organization and set out on its own. Later, it took on more of a Zionist character than a Socialist one. Its second president was Shlomo Glass, and its active members included Sh. Laufer, Mordechai Bibering, and Y. Kirshner. It began its cultural activity for its members by organization lectures and discussions (the lecturers included Dr. Eliahu Waternberg[3], Shlomo Kreindler, Avraham Klugman, Shmerler, Mordechai Leib Fierman, Fink, and Eliahu Rauch), and started a music course and an acting club, whose members organized public performances from time to time. In the year 5663 (1903) or 5664 (1904)[4], “Achva” started its first political activity by actively participating under the auspices of the P.P.S. in the elections for the directorship of the Sick Fund, going against the government and its political servants who made efforts to take control over this institution and were not averse to even using arms in this battle. The Jewish student Brinker fell as a victim in this battle. The “Achva” organization later branched out to the “Poale Zion” party, and in the year 5667 (1907) organized activities to promote the closing of stores and workplaces at 8:00 p.m. This was accompanied by a strike, demonstrations, and the arrest of its members by the police. It concluded with the victory of the workers over their employers. In 5668 (1908) Pinchas Derman was the head of “Achva” and Adolf Scharf, currently in Tel Aviv, was its secretary. Its active members included Hindzhe Horowitz, Feivel Jekel, Yosef Leib Lew, and others.

D.

The Hebrew movement in the city was still in its early stages of development. The “Safa Berura” Hebrew School had already existed for several years. It was founded by Avraham Yitzchak Kwitner, a man who was enthusiastic about Hebrew, who came from his native city of Tysmienica and fulfilled here his plan to found a modern Hebrew school, one of the first Hebrew schools of this type in Galicia (with the Hebrew in Hebrew teaching methodology and the Sephardic pronunciation). This was a simultaneous act of pioneering and brazenness. This class had several grades of male and female students. The brothers Avraham Yitzchak and Naftali Kwitner taught there. When Naftali moved to teach in the school in Krakow, he was replaced by the teacher and writer Shamai Chaltnikow. The pedagogic and spiritual leadership of this

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school was always in the hands of its founder Kwitner. The financial and budgetary concerns were dealt with a public committee of the Zionists who were Lovers of the Hebrew Language (Chovevei Sfat Ever), headed by Eliezer Lebensart, a pleasant man and faithful Zionist. The brothers Dr. Mordechai and Aryeh Drimer, Meir Hanish, Moshe Hochman, Menachem Naftali Horowitz, Herman Trop and others also served on that committee. This school, which was registered as an organization according to the laws of the state, took on the character of a public educational institution. The budget, which was primarily used for rent, equipment and teachers' salaries, was covered primarily by tuition fees and partly by side sources of income, such as donations, allocations, membership fees, etc.

A small-scale “Chug Ivri” (Hebrew Club) existed alongside the “Safa Berura” School. Its members met once a week for discussion and exchange of ideas in Hebrew. This club took the place of the former Hebrew club that was affiliated with “Eretz Yisrael”, which was headed by the teacher Moshe Wunderman (who used to nickname himself in Hebrew: Baal Haness -- The Miracle Worker), and was disbanded after a few yeas of existence. With the passage of time, this small club was expanded by the addition of new members from the students of “Safa Berura” and the Hebrew courses. It later functioned as the local organization of the world “Ivria” and faithfully guarded the Hebrew ember. It is worthwhile to mention that through the efforts and energy of that Hebrew club, its members entered the various Zionist organizations so that they could work for the befit of Zionism and its institutions, primarily to influence the organizations in the spirit of Hebrew. There were also those who then joined the “Achva” Zionist workers' organization with this intention, and later remained as active members in “Achva” and the “Poale Zion” party even after it left the general Zionist organization.

E.

Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Zeev Braude was the lion of the district committee, of which I was a member throughout the entire time that I resided in Stanislawow. He was the spiritual leader and Judaic counselor of the members of the committee, including the elderly doctors who were already skillful at leadership as well as the members of the young guard who were gaining their talent for this. His influence on the cream of the crop of the movement, and thereby on the entire movement, was great. In particular, we must attribute to Dr. Braude the great change for the better that began among Stanislawow Jewry from a nationalist-Zionist perspective, for he dug deep furrows in it through his personal behavior as a Zionist rabbi who knew no giving in or leniency when it came to defending nationalistic principles; as well as through his sermons in the synagogue that always attracted a large audience, especially from the intelligentsia and the youth. Those sermons from the pulpit, which were for the most part based on realistic topics were far from any artificial or midrashic pathos, penetrated the hearts of the listeners with their simplicity and straightforwardness, and directed them toward the main principles and benefits of a Jewish outlook.

As has been stated, the president of the district council was Dr. Shmuel Schorr, who was active primarily in the arena of publicity and propaganda on account of his great knowledge and oratory prowess. To his praise, we must state

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that he did not recoil from menial work when such was necessary for the benefit of the matters at hand. I recall as well the impression that the rabbi made upon me, the young person who was new to the place, when I saw him making the rounds from house to house around town to collect signatures of the Jewish residents for a petition regarding a general Jewish issue.

Following Dr. Schorr as head of this committee was his relative Dr. Anselm (Hanes) Halpern, the son of Reb Hirsch Halpern who had served as head of the community. Dr. Halpern lacked the popularity of his predecessor. He was honored but not especially loved. His aristocratic personality trait, a heritage from his wealthy, fine pedigreed family, effectively placed a partition between himself and the people, and he was flawed as a leader of such a populist movement as the Zionist movement.

From among the rest of the members of the central committee, we should note the lawyer the aforementioned Dr. Reuven Junas; Dr. Yaakov Laufer, one of the finest lawyers, with a refined character, and deep erudition, who already in his youth excelled in his Zionist activity and was one of the founders of the “Emuna” academic organization of Lwow, from which numerous leaders of the movement in Galicia emerged; Dr. Alexander Riterman, an intelligent and astute man with great energy, despite the fact that his interpersonal relationships were difficult. He very willingly dealt with organizational questions, so all such activities were given over to him by the committee; Dr. Hillel Zusman, who carried over from the home of his father, a wealthy Jew and honorable communal activist, a fine tradition, personal popularity, and an inclination for communal activity, which he gave over to the service of Zionism. He had no small influence upon his father, who was affiliated politically with the local assimilationist camp, who were opponents of Zionism. As the eldest child, Hillel Zusman also served as an example to all of his brothers (two of whom made aliya to the Land of Israel) with his dedication and faithfulness to Zionism; Herman Trop, who joined the committee in the latter period, and served the movement primarily in the economic realm, as he was an intelligent merchant and a man of deeds; Regina Meller, an intelligent and energetic woman, and an enthusiastic Zionist. Along with her diligent work in the “Rachele” organization, she served as the secretary of the district council, fulfill her this task in the best way possible.

These members were the cream of the crop of the movement, and some later took on significant roles such as the head of the community of Stanislawow, a representative to the Polish Sejm, etc. Alongside them, we should not the members of the young guard, who were their assistants and were always ready to serve the movement. These include Yosef Filenbaum, Avraham Magnet, Oskar Weingarten, Lipa Ajgenfeld, Shlomo Fiszgrind, Naftali Landau, and others.

F.

My activities in the district council were primarily with the Jewish National Fund, which was close to my heart. This was an uncultivated field that had to be worked from built up from the ground. It is sufficient to note that after several years of existence of the Jewish National Fund, Zionist Stanislawow knew only very little about this important apparatus for actualizing Zionism, about its character and tasks. They barely thought about including it in the realm of general Zionist activities. Therefore

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it was necessary to simultaneously start the publicity and propaganda work, as well as the practical organizational work to increase the income of this fund. Even though there were relatively few difficulties in the former aim, there were serious difficulties with the latter aim. Not only was the apparatus and necessary forces to conduct such an activity of regional scope missing, but the central office of the Jewish National Fund in Vienna did not at first display the appropriate understanding of the need to modify the methods and style of activity to the local and regional conditions. For example, I was forced to fight with the central office to ensure that the Keren Kayemet boxes be distributed free of charge, just like the Rabbi Meir Baal Haness charity boxes, without demanding that the box recipients pay for the boxes up front. The central office only responded to me after I had instituted this myself, of my own accord, by ordering several hundred simple, cheap boxes, distributing them to the Zionists, and realizing a return beyond all expectations. Not only did the income of these boxes significantly exceed their manufacturing costs within a short time, but the demand for the boxes also continually increased. From that time, the blue boxes were distributed by the central office in large quantities, and regularly brought in large sums to the Jewish National Fund. This was aside from the publicity benefit for the concept of the fund.

After a short time, I toiled to create a Jewish National Fund committee for the southeastern district of Galicia. Several veteran Zionists and younger assistants, especially from among the students of the school, volunteered for its activities. The latter are especially worthy of being noted. They were the ones who dedicated themselves in an exemplary fashion to the menial tasks of distributing and emptying the boxes at set intervals, collecting all types of material for the benefit of the Jewish National Fund, and receiving the monies and donations during general campaigns an individual and private occasions. All of this activity was fraught with the danger that the directors of the public schools might act against them. As a result of this constant, diligent work, the district of southeastern Galicia, with its center in Stanislawow, took first place not only with respect to the size of the donations to the fund, but also in its means of publicity to spread the idea. Its means of publicity, in the form of statistical and diagrammatic tables, earned full appreciation from all sides, and served as an example to others.

From among the adult activists of the fund, I should note in particular Dr. Pinchas Hessel, who dedicated a great deal of time to this work; Mordechai Pefer, who also served on the district council for some time; and the engineer Noach Dikman. From among the young assistants, I should note Mordechai Rubinfeld, one of the veteran members of the Schiller Group; Yosef Zusman; and Zigmund Horowitz.

G.

As I mention Yosef Zusman, I see fit to erect a sort of monument here to his memory, for he was one of the first chalutzim (Zionist pioneers) from Stanislawow, and perished in the Land of Israel under tragic circumstances. Yosef Zusman, the son of Reb Shalom and the younger brother of Dr. Hillel Zusman, was born in the year 5650 (1890 on

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his father's estate in Majdan. Upon graduating from the gymnasium in Stanislawow, he registered in the faculty of law in Vienna in the year 5668 (1908) with the approval of his father. However, he transferred to the upper level agricultural school there, and studied there for only three semesters. At the end of 5669 (1909) he participated as a guest in the ninth Zionist Congress in Hamburg. He then studied in the upper level agricultural school in Hockenheim, and took his examinations there at the beginning of 5671 (1911). Given the tense relationship between Yosef and his father, who refused to come to terms with the path that Yosef had chosen, he refused to accept any assistance from his father and earned his livelihood from teaching. In order to gain expertise in practical agriculture, he entered the study farm of the Y. K. A. (Jewish Colonization Association) in Slobodka-Lesna between Stanislawow and Kolomyja, which prepared people for immigration to Argentina and was famous in its time for its opposition to the Land of Israel and the study of Hebrew. Due to an accident in which he lost an eye, he decided to terminate his studies and hasten his aliya to the Land of Israel. He returned to his parents' home in Stanislawow and then made aliya to the Land of Israel.

When he arrived in the land of Israel, Zusman joined the “Hapoel Hatzair” and worked for some time at the Treidel farm on the Kinneret. When members of the first group from America headed by Eliezer Yaffa obtained their farm for an experimental purpose and were in need of experienced Israeli workers, they set their sights on Yosef Zusman and employed him there. When Merchavia was founded by Professor Franz Oppenheimer and the agronomist Shlomo Dik, Yosef Zusman was accepted as a member there. In the year 5672 (1912), he participated in the Work Group that worked in the orchards of Petach Tikva, and then started to work with a German farmer in Wilhelma[5] in order to master the workings of a milk farm[6].

At the beginning of the First World War, Zusman was a member of the Dileb Group. A member was sent out each week to Jerusalem to purchase provisions. One day, Yosef Zusman left the Carmel Hotel in Jerusalem riding on a donkey laden with merchandise, and did not arrive in Dileb. From then, his tracks disappeared.

H.

We recall the dismal situation of Jewish religious study in the government schools of Galicia. One the one side, Austrian law established the requirement of religious teaching in the schools and transferred the execution and supervision of such to the community. On the other hand, only two hours per week were allotted to this, which was insufficient even for the most essential studies of the Jewish religion. The lack of a set curriculum and of appropriately certified teachers with a feeling of responsibility left the situation of religious education of the Jewish children of these schools in a state of great neglect. The communities did not have the means to repair this breach, and at times they did not even have the appropriate understanding and will for this. In Stanislawow, where Naftali Schipper and others like him served as the teachers of religion,

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the situation was even worse. Even here, the community took an important step to change the situation by appointing Dr. M. Z. Braude as the supervisor of religious studies in the public schools. However, as soon as Dr. Braude began fulfilling his role with seriousness and a desire to improve the situation, especially with respect to Hebrew that had been completely neglected despite its great importance for prayer and religious life, he encountered the open enmity of the boorish teachers who were satisfied with the situation of neglect. Competition immediately began between him and his supervisors, using low tactics and under the guise of Polish patriotism. His supervisors were supported by the Jewish delegate on the board of education of the province of Galicia, Professor Sternbach of Krakow, who, as an assimilationist Jew, was diligent in protecting the Polish interests against Dr. Braude, whom he declared to be an “enemy of the Poles”. To the credit of the community of Stanislawow, it should be noted that this did not shake or weaken Dr. Braude at all, despite the fact that the communal leadership was in the hands of the Orthodox and the assimilationists, who were his strong political opponents. Furthermore, when the government board of education, under the influence of Professor Sternbach, issued a command to curtail the place of the Hebrew Language in religious studies, and even arranged an inquest to determine the role importance of Hebrew in religious studies; the community of Stanislawow elected specifically Dr. Braude as the representative to this inquest. This most honorable step of the community served as well as a great support for the status of Hebrew in the political landscape, which was under siege along with the personality of Dr. Braude. However, Stanislawow Jewry was not even satisfied with this, for they also protested openly and sharply against the denial of the Hebrew Language and the mixing in by outside forces regarding religious studies that were under the auspices of the community. This protest expressed itself strongly in a public rally with the participation of the masses of Jews from all circles and parties (along with the Zionist leaders, the organizers of this rally included community notables such as Reb Shalom Zusman, Philip Liberman, and others), and in the resolution that was taken after the speech of Nathan Sperber, the superintendent of the Baron Hirsch School. Even though all these steps did not succeed in foiling the efforts of the haters of Hebrew, who were fully supported by the educational regime of the country, and Dr. Braude resigned from the position of supervisor, seeing that it was impossible to do productive work in the current environment; the proud and strong stand of Stanislawow Jewry in this battle was of great importance. This was a fine demonstration of nationalism that had a strong impact both internally and externally.

I.

Despite all the honor and recognition accorded to Dr. Braude by the assimilationists of Stanislawow from the progressive community, his Zionist stance was a thorn in their eyes. As long as this activity was restricted to preaching and publicity on an internal basis, they did not think of opposing him openly. However, with the political changes that took place with regard to general voting rights for the Austrian courts, the turn of the Zionist party came to enter the political stream and place itself at the head

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of the Jewish masses to unify them and organize them for the purpose of political-national emancipation. It took place naturally -- Dr. Braude who was one of the first of those to support national political rights, that is, the general right of national political activity within the Zionist plan of action[7], saw it as his role to direct this activity and to participate actively in its leadership. He also devised a political plan according to the concept of national and personal autonomy that was authorized after exhaustive deliberations by the district council in Stanislawow and was presented by him to the other leadership committee of the movement in Galicia and Vienna as his official recommendation. This plan was finally accepted by the central committee of Austrian Zionists in Krakow in July 1906 after being merged with the analogous plan of Adolf Bihem who issued the recommendation from the central Zionist committee in Vienna. It was set as the foundation of the national political party that was established at that time by the Zionist organization for the purpose of political action. After establishing the regulations and defining the path of political action, Dr. Braude placed himself at the head of its leadership along with Adolf Stand and Gershon Zipper. This was beyond the threshold of toleration of the assimilationists of Stanislawow, who this time strongly opposed Dr. Braude and his actions. This was not only based on the pretext that he had neglected the duties of his office. They did not rest until they had shaken up his position and forced him to leave the rabbinate of Stanislawow.

Nevertheless, Dr. Braude did not leave the city as someone who was fired and rebuked. On the contrary, the spontaneous, enthusiastic farewell that was arranged by the Jews of Stanislawow on his final Sabbath in the rabbinate turned into a splendid demonstration in his honor. Masses of people streamed to the Temple that Sabbath, including many young people, to listed to his farewell sermon. When he left the Temple, a large group of people was waiting for him on both sides of the sidewalk. They greeted him with flowers and applause, and accompanied him to his home with great honor. With the departure of Dr. Braude from Stanislawow, the splendor and attractive force of the Temple also disappeared. It was left empty and neglected, and its rabbinic seat remained vacant for a long period.

J.

The faithful saplings that Dr. Braude had planted in Stanislawow, and the successful activity that he had conducted there during the six or seven years of his service left behind their fruits . Through his actions, Stanislawow Jewry took on a nationalist, Zionist character. His personal memory remained etched in its hearts with feelings of gratitude and affection. The Jews of Stanislawow were able to openly express these feelings a short time later, when Dr. Braude stood for election as a candidate

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from that city for the Austrian parliament in 1907. The enthusiasm with which the masses of Jews received him when he arrived as a candidate to deliver his election speech flowed not only from their personal appreciation of him, but also from their positive feelings toward Zionism and national political action. This was also a strong demonstration against political assimilationism and the blurring of the Jewish image, as well as an expression of contempt for those who had caused the dismissal of Dr. Braude and his exit from Stanislawow through their machinations. This enthusiasm did not abate throughout the entire period of the difficult electoral battle, where the Jews expressed their powerful might with their strong stance against the acts of terror and force perpetrated by the government, and the despicable machinations of the “armed” gangs and sycophants of the “authorities”. The stance of Stanislawow Jewry during these elections, which inflicted a harsh defeat upon the assimilationists and their candidate Edmund Rauch -- who received the smallest number of votes in the first round despite being the official candidate from among the three candidates -- was a bright page in the annals of the Zionist and nationalist movement in Galicia during that era. It was not the fault of the Jews that instead of Dr. Braude who had received the largest number of votes, his opponent, the candidate of the Polish democrats Engineer Stabirtanja, was elected as the representative to parliament on the second, more restrictive vote. The Jews fought with the power of ideas and utilized proper and pure means, whereas the others utilized the invalid practices of “Galician elections” that were known for their disgrace, and invalidated a number of votes for Dr. Braude on account that his first name Marcus alone was written on the ballots, thereby foiling his electoral victory[8].

K.

Despite leaving the electoral battlefield with disappointment, the Jews of Stanislawow recovered quickly. Girded with the national, Zionist spirit, they turned their attention and energy primarily toward direct Zionist activity. There was an increase in activity directed toward the penetration of the idea of a Hebrew renaissance and the building of the Land to the strata of the people who drew close to the movement at the time of the elections. Many publicity lectures with the participation of well-known orators from outside were arranged, and practical work took place for the land of Israel and the various Zionist institutions. Steps were taken to forge a strong connection between the Land of Israel and the Diaspora by distributing the produce of the Land (Carmel Wine, citrus fruits and the literature of the Land of Israel). At that time, the idea of settling the middle class in the land of Israel budded in Stanislawow, and articles to that end were published in “Tagblatt”. Special attention was paid to the circles of Jewish farmers in the surrounding villages. An initiative was taken to convene together the Jewish farmers. This was started through the efforts of Leib Zweig, a faithful Zionist from the suburb of Knihinin near Stanislawow who was bound with his soul both to agriculture and to the Land of Israel, but for some reason remained in the Diaspora. At that convention, issues of aliya to and settlement of the Land of Israel were dealt with, and a decision was taken to send a delegation to the land to collect information

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on the conditions of settlement, the purchase of Land, and preparations for moving. Incidentally, that same Leib Zweig was also the founder and activist of the “Ahavat Chesed” movement, which gave small loans to needy Jews, primarily for the purpose of livelihood. These loans were extended with lenient conditions and with no interest.

L.

During that time, the idea of founding a federation of Hebrew Schools was hatched in Stanislawow. M. Hanish, who as the first to lead it, presented the idea to the central Zionist committee in Lwow in order to bring it to fruition. However, when he saw that there was great hesitation, he attempted to bring it to fruition with the assistance of members of the “Safa Berura” committee in Stanislawow. Dr. Mordechai Drimer wrote the charter. In order to circumvent the Galician authorities whom they suspected might disrupt them, they included Bukovina in the realm of activity of this organization, so that they could bring the charter directly to the central government authorities in Vienna. They indeed certified it without any delay or hesitation. When the central Zionist committee of Lwow found out about this, they hastened to make a decision about the establishment of a school organization, and gave Shlomo Schiller the responsibility for that matter. The issue was indeed close to Schiller's heart, and he immediately entered into negotiations with M. Hanish and convinced him to bring the organization under the auspices of the central Zionist committee and to transfer its seat from Stanislawow to Lwow. According to the certified charter, the founding convention was held in Stanislawow, where the first leadership committee was formally elected, and a decision was also taken to move the seat of the federation. Thus did that cultural apparatus arise. Shlomo Schiller was its living spirit until he made aliya to the land. It did a great deal of work to spread the knowledge of Hebrew to all corners of Galicia. When Shlomo Schiller made aliya, Dr. Philip Korngryn was as the chairman of the federation in his place.

M.

Throughout the years, the Zionists of Stanislawow made various attempts to found a Yiddish newspaper -- all unsuccessful. Nevertheless, in 5671 (1911) the district council made a fresh attempt by founding the “Der Yud” weekly, edited by E. L. Shusheim and M. Hanish. It is appropriate to especially note that the giving of the job of editor of a general Zionist newspaper to Shusheim, who was known as the editor of the official mouthpiece of the “Poale Zion“ party, “Der Yiddisher Arbeiter”, for this proves the relationship of trust that existed in Stanislawow between these two camps, despite their ideological chasm.

The “Der Yud” newspaper started at the time of the parliamentary elections, and primarily served as an apparatus for publicity in the political arena, for Stanislawow was supposed to have one of the prime candidates (this time, it was the Zionist candidate Dr. Gershon Zipper). However, from its outset the newspaper deviated from the narrow arena of a provincial newspaper with a restricted role that is appropriate for the needs of the place and the time a designated by its founders. This was despite being a true Zionist newspaper, expressed

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through directing the hearts and gaze of the people toward the land of Israel and the restoration of the nation in its homeland. The newspaper tried to educate its readers in a meaningful way by also devoting space for literature and research.

N.

With the complete rout of the Zionists in the parliamentary elections of 5671 (1911) in every place, including Stanislawow, the enthusiasm of even the strongest devotees of nationalist politics dwindled. First of all, the Zionists of Stanislawow figured that it made little sense to dedicate great effort to work that was dependent primarily on external factors and the benefit of which was usually doubtful; just as they had endured the great error of placing all of their efforts into the political arena during the times of the elections in order to obtain votes and mandates. Even those who were faithful to the present work interpreted this concept in a different manner: national politics refers to the political education of the masses, and the present efforts refer to serious and constant efforts within the people and for the purpose of the people in all areas of life, especially in the areas of economics and culture by creating appropriate tools for such.

A Jewish bank called “Galitzishe Handlsbank” (Galician business bank) was established in Stanislawow. It was founded on a solid financial base, and its mission was to free the Jews of the middle class from heir dependence on communal and private financial institutions that took advantage of them from a material perspective and enslaved them from a political and moral perspective. This new institution, was headed by the Zionist leaders Dr. Anselm Halpern, Dr. Reuven Junas, Dr. Yaakov Laufer, Herman Trop and the “Poale Zion” member Hindzhi Horowitz, and people such as Zygmund Regenstreif, Naftali Rohatin, Emil Adlersberg and others, earned the trust and appreciation of the Jews of Stanislawow from its inception. There is no doubt that it would have developed into a large Jewish bank, had the First World War not put an end to its activities after two years of existence.

Alongside this institution, it is appropriate to note a different type of institution, which was also created at that time by the Zionists of Stanislawow with the same aspirations of those that moved them to found the bank. This refers to the Jewish sick fund that was established with the desire to free the Jewish workers from their dependence on the general sick fund that was under the rule and direction of the P.P.S. (Polish Socialist Party). Despite the fact that leader of that party, Dr. Max Zeinfeld, was a proper man, its manner in Stanislawow as well was to disparage Zionism and blame it for all the faults of the bourgeois, reactionary movement, without taking into account the proletariat “Poale Zion” movement. If that was the way during ordinary times, it was even more so during the period of an election. The shameful behavior of the Socialists in Stanislawow toward the Zionists during the time that they were engaged in a fierce election campaign not against a Socialist, but rather against a Jewish assimilationist who was the government candidate, crossed all boundaries. In order to disrupt the publicity and propaganda campaign of the Zionists, the P.P.S. Members forcefully broke into the Zionist meeting, fomented a disturbance, brutally

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injured people, and damaged property. This contemptible deed was perpetrated primarily under the leadership and initiative of the leaders of the sick fund. Therefore, that institution became odious in the eyes of the Jews, and there was a need to found a Jewish social institution with that role. However, the new institution failed because it immediately became obvious that the good intentions of the founders and even the great energy of the physician who was the director, Dr. Yosef Meir were insufficient. The institution would have had to give its members all the medical assistance and services that they required during their illnesses and convalescence. Since it was too difficult for the new institution to provide such, it could not exist.

Over and above these institutions, other institutions operated primarily in the arenas of education and culture, and conducted the activities necessary for their survival. However, the world war that broke out in the interim led to a cessation of Zionist activity. Those fine plans were pushed aside, and some of them only came to fruition after years.

O.

These general lines come only to illustrate the situation of the movement in that city during the beginning of this decade, and to what degree it rose and attained, both in spirit and in deeds, throughout that era. During that era, Stanislawow gained its nationalistic, Zionist hue, and forged its place as an important Zionist center. It was no coincidence that later in that city, a hachshara camp for young women was set up through the efforts and under the direction of Sara Riterman, and a large pioneering movement was established along with the Working Land of Israel movement and other professional hachshara institutions. Effective educational and cultural movements were also set up, Stanislawow was also the seat of the national Zionist council of eastern Galicia, and the Zionists took over the communal leadership. All of these things were not fruits of chance. Rather they should be seen as the ripened fruits of that educational Zionist activity, and of the Zionist efforts that began in earnest during that decade.

It is appropriate to especially note the following people:

Avraham Lebensart

I only met Avraham Lebensart, who during the beginning of his career was published in the anthologies and newspapers of Galicia, some time after I settled in Stanislawow. He was already afflicted with that malignant disease that laid him up in bed from time to time, and finally caused his death when he was 29 years old. His great suffering wore away his body. His long kapote lengthened his frame, his homely face was made more unattractive by his great suffering, and his glasses prevented one from looking straight into his bright eyes. He was modest and polite, a scion of the Schluser family, one of the most venerable cities of Stanislawow. He grew up in a zealously Orthodox environment

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that was enclosed in the narrow bounds of Torah Judaism, and was hostile to any deviation from the traditional day of life. The years of his youth were spent in religious studies in the Beis Midrash. He never set foot in the public school, and he obtained his great knowledge of languages and secular subjects on his own, by studying them in Hebrew science and knowledge books. Despite the fact that he was taken with the Zionist idea at a very young age, he was prevented on account of his environment from coming into close contact with the world and life outside his bounds. Even his first compositions in Hebrew remained at first a deep secret, and he did not think at all about publishing them. He certainly did not think of becoming a writer among the Jewish people. This happened unintentionally, and seemingly unwillingly, after his friend Yitzchak Fernhauf gave his composition “Haiver” (The Blind Man) over for publication without his permission. (It was published in the “Chermon” anthology, 5663, 1903.)

In its time, Lebensart's first composition aroused great hope for its author among the Hebrew community of Galicia, for not only did he display his mastery of the treasures of the language and a proper level of expressive prowess, but he also possessed an eye that takes note of afflicted people and understands everything in the surroundings. He excelled in these traits, more or less. From that time, the rest of his works were published, in prose and poetry. He even tried his hand at drama, in which the influence of Meterlink can be seen. His research works on Talmudic topics were also well received, both for their level of mastery and knowledge of the issue, as well as for their orderly and flowing presentation. (These dealt with numbers and names in the Talmud, and other such topics.)

As time went on, Lebensart also wrote in Yiddish, especially with the nickname “Derech Eretz”. In this manner, he appears before us in a different form than in his Hebrew creations. His style in the spoke language was not the same as his Hebrew style. In Hebrew, “he loved tragedy and searched for anguish”, deliberating about the exile of the Jews and their G-d. He dealt primarily with handicapped people, widows, orphans, and “Jews as hunched over and scrawny as the date of Rabbi Tzadok”. His writing in Yiddish, on the other hand, drew from popular sources, and had a simple Jewish flavor spiced with light-heartedness or sharp satire vibrating from within.

When he went out on his own, Lebensart began to emerge from his narrow bounds and participate in Zionist activities. He was especially active in the renaissance of Hebrew, and was one of the activists of the Hebrew club and the “Safa Berura” school organization if Stanislawow.

The years of his creativity were few and difficult. When he still had his strength, he complained in one of his poems, “I have already become old, tribulations have aged me, I was miserable, oppressed and sick in the exile.” Therefore, he was only able to bequeath us a few things that we were able to publish, some in prose and others in poetry. We published his works (published by “Safa Berura” of Stanislawow) in an 80 page booklet called “The Writings of Avraham Lebensart”, with an introduction by Yitzchak Fernhof. This booklet was noted as Volume I, for we had intended to publish the rest of his writings as well. However, this did not come to fruition, and the matters came to naught with the passage of time, which is unfortunate.

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Yitzchak Fernhof

I knew Fernhof's name, particularly his personal name “Itzi” that he used in literature as the editor and publisher of “Sifrei Shaashuim”, already several years before I came to Stanislawow, his place of residence at that time. Those small booklets, which were similar in name, and in their first editions also in form, to the “Sifrei HaAgora” of Ben-Avigdor, etched Fernhof and his activities in my memory, even though his words, similar to most of the literary material that was published in those booklets, were not even of average quality. In Galicia, which was barren and arid in the field of Hebrew creativity in those days, this new stage, which served as a host for several young writers at the start of their careers, was regarded as a portent of good tidings for the future. It and its creations are remembered positively.

I got to know Fernhof when I came to Stanislawow. Externally he was in his thirties, with a thin build and of average height, a full face, clean shaven with a thick mustache. In terms of his character, he was a maskil of the former generation, with a slight tinge of modernity. He was a person who appeared angry even when he was smiling, and lacked warmth. Therefore, he also lacked attractiveness and the power of influence. Therefore, Fernhof, the Hebrew writer and teacher in the Baron Hirsch School, was a lone man, lacking any influence over the Hebrew cultural life in Stanislawow. He was turned inwardly and given over to his literary pursuits, including the publication of the Hebrew monthly (“Hayarden”, founded and published in 5666 / 1906 together with Elazar Rokach and Avraham Lebensart), and of an anthology of his stories (published with the title “Meagadot Hachaim” -- From the Legends of Life); and weaving the broad pattern for his book “Misnagdim” in which he wished to prove that the world of the rationalist misnagdim was not as rigid as people were wont to think -- but rather that it had expressions of soulfulness and poetic vitality, no different than in the Hassidic world. I know that Fernhof worked on this book for years, and even regarded it as his magnum opus. I had heard that this book was already ready for publication, and it would be interesting to know what was its fate.

With respect to the content of his stories that were published in his book “Meagadot Hachaim” in “Hayarden”, one can note the influence of modern literature, which also left its imprint to some degree on his style of writing, which was generally not too bad.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Fernhof first fled with his family to Vienna, and from there to Bohemia, where he obtained a position as a teacher in a school for the children of Jewish refugees.

At the end of the war in the year 5678 (1918), Fernhof returned to Stanislawow, and resumed his position in the Baron Hirsch School, whereas his family remained in Bohemia. Yitzchak Fernhof died in Stanislawow in February 1919, isolated and alone. He was only 50 years old.

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Dr. Mordechai Drimer

Dr. Mordechai Drimer was a man of fine character traits and deep Jewish and general culture. He was one of the first activists in the field of modern Hebrew education and the Hebrew movement of Galicia. He belonged to the small Hebrew circle in his native city of Stanislawow, which was centered around the pioneering teacher Avraham Yitzchak Kwitner in the activities of the founding of the “Safa Berura” Hebrew School. This school served as an example in Galicia and educated a generation of dedicated Hebraists, especially from among the youth. He also volunteered in the position of secretary of that school, and was one of the few people were was diligent about speaking and disseminating the speaking of Hebrew, the knowledge of the language and Hebrew culture.

He was also one of the veterans of the “Poale Zion” movement, and one of the chiefs of its active members in Galicia. His path to this movement was typical. In accordance with a decision of the Hebrew club, this movement, along with its members, joined the “Achva” group in order to work therein on behalf of Hebrew. With the merger of “Achva” with “Poale Zion” that took place in the interim, he too joined that group and remained faithful to it even after that group severed its connection with the general Zionist movement, an action that led to the departure of the rest of the members of the Hebrew circle from the “Achva” group.

He settled in Vienna after the First World War, and worked in his profession as a lawyer until he made aliya to the Land of Israel with his family in 5695 (1935). He worked for the Jerusalem Post during the last years of his life. He died in the year 5609 (1949) at the age of 70 in Jerusalem.


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Chapters of Activity

by Aharon Leib Shoshaim

Translated by Jerrold Landau

I am not a native of Stanislawow. I settled there after my marriage in the year 5668 (1908). I arrived during the time that the members were preparing, with some delay, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the existence of “Achva”. “Achva” was founded in the year 5656 (1897) through the efforts of Zalman Hertz, later one of the well-known activists of “Poale Zion”, who died in Luxembourg in the year 5608 (1948) at the age of 72. The full name of this organization was “Achva Tzioni Ozrei Mischar” (The Zionist Brotherhood of Business Assistants), which was typical of that time. Similar organizations of business workers (salesmen) with a Zionist outlook were founded then in Lwow, Krakow and other large cities in Galicia. The organization in Krakow was called “Achdut” and the organization in Lwow was called by the same name as the one in Stanislawow -- “Achva=”“. The ideas of “Poale Zion” were not yet known in Galicia. Zionism had not yet gained an influence upon the working community, which, as far as it was organized, was affiliated with the anti-Zionist Socialist camp. However, the business workers wished to stress their unique character even as they joined the Zionist camp. The business workers were known as “proletarians with starched collars” in the Socialist lingo of that time. They were exploited more than the simple workers, but they all hoped to attain a bourgeois status with the passage of time on their own, through marriage with an appropriate dowry, so that they could open a shop or some sort of business.

In the meantime, as long as they were working for others, they agitated for a shorter work day and for higher wages. We should note here that the workday hours of the Jewish shopkeepers at that time were not restricted. There was no set time to close the shops. Many of the shopkeepers kept their shops open until 10:00 p.m. or even until midnight, and the workers, who were called “servants” were not able to go home as long as the owner did not close his business. The salespeople and other business workers therefore opened a battle to close the shops and businesses at 8:00 p.m. This was the battle for “closing at eight”. This battle became sharper with the passage of time, to the point where it overtook the character of the “Poale Zion” movement. From an organizational perspective, this matter was expressed by the founding of the “Jewish General Organization of Poale Zion Business Workers and Employees in Austria” that was established by Shlomo Kaplansky and Nathan Gross. The writer of these lines served for a period of time (1905-1906) as the chairman of the organization, which was centered in Krakow. After the founding of this organization, other isolated organization such as “Achva” of Stanislawow became chapters of this organization, and their legal existence was assured through the force of the charter.

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Indeed, I arrived in Stanislawow as they were preparing to celebrate the decade of the existence of “Achva”. A significant portion of the “Achva” members were already independent merchants or shopkeepers, but all of them regarded the celebration as their own, even though many of them were again not members in “Poale Zion”. Incidentally, Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Zeev Braude was among those who celebrated the tenth anniversary of “Achva”. He was also photographed for the photo board of the members of the organization. As I mention here those who separated from “Poale Zion” once they went out on their own, or who were from the outset not members of that organization, I wish to stress that there were also children of the wealthy merchants who later became merchants in their own right, but remained as faithful and dedicated members of “Poale Zion” until the end of their lives. One of them was Hindzhi Horowitz, who was murdered at the hands of the German murderers during the great slaughter.

As in Galicia and throughout Austria, the “Poale Zion” movement in Stanislawow had deep Zionist aspirations and a true Socialist spirit. The bourgeois Zionist circles saw in this an incomprehensible duplicity. Therefore, the members of “Poale Zion” often found themselves in various situations where they were forced to defend their Zionist outlook in ideological debates with the general Zionists. In truth, the members of “Poale Zion” in Galicia possessed a deep national consciousness and were responsible Zionists. They did not give up on their Zionist stance even with regard to political questions relating to the Diaspora. I will mention here the fiery and stubborn struggle of “Poale Zion“ in the year 5667 (1907) on behalf of the candidacy of Dr. Mordechai Braude to the Vienna Reichsrat (parliament). They realized that the battle for a bourgeois candidate against a Socialist candidate was a deep sacrifice for “Poale Zion“, but they still had the strength to make this sacrifice for the benefit of their national aspirations and their battle against assimilationism. Incidentally, “Poale Zion” followed this line as well in other cities of Galicia in 5667 (1907) and 5671 (1911).

As I recall here Rabbi Dr. Braude, I wish to mention an episode that demonstrates the character of this illustrious person. In 5662 (1902), “Poale Zion” in Austria tried to attain autonomy regarding the shekel (token of Zionist membership). We refered to this at the time as our aspiration to put an end to territorial representation to the Zionist Congress and replace it with ideological and party representation. During that period, the Zionist organization in Austria was built upon the principle of “district councils” (which covered all of the local organizations in a district), and all of the district councils formed the national council in Vienna. The district councils had the decisive opinion in the matter of the shekel. Our demand for autonomy with respect to the shekel -- that is to say, that we ourselves would organization and conduct the campaign for the distribution of the shekel among our members -- was agreed to by the district councils of Vienna, Krakow, and Lwow, but the Stanislawow council was stubborn and did not want to agree to our demand. I traveled to Stanislawow on Passover 5666 (1906) to discuss the matter with Rabbi Dr. Braude. He received me with great friendship, but strongly refused to agree to our demand. He asked, “Why do you wish to separate from us?” Apparently, the matter touched the depths of his soul. He drew his chair near to me and stated, “What do you want? We are prepared to sign on to any minimal program of yours, but with regard to the maximum program, the issue is very distant, music for the future, and therefore it is not appropriate to divide the

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Zionist organization. Dr. Braude made these and other similar claims. He regarded the setting up of unique groups and ideological streams as a division of the Zionist organization, and therefore he did not agree to give “Poale Zion“ its own shekels.

With regard to the “Poale Zion” movement in Stanislawow, I must, in a way uncharacteristic of myself, also mention myself; even though, as G-d is my witness, I did not do any great things for the benefit of the party. However, the way of the world is that a person recalls in much greater detail his own self and deeds, even the smallest ones, than he remembers other people and their deeds. When I came to Stanislawow in the beginning of 1908 after leaving the position of editor of the “Der Yiddisher Arbeiter” weekly in Krakow, which I had edited for two years, I also had behind me two years as chairman of the active committee of the “Poale Zion Jewish Workers' Socialist Party of Austria”. In Stanislawow, I became a member of the petite bourgeois class, and I was forced to dedicate myself to private affairs. However, when Leon Chazanowicz (Katriel), who had taken over from me as the editor of “Der Yiddisher Arbeiter” decided after less than one year to immigrate to Argentina, the party headquarters in Vienna demanded that I return to the editorship of the mouthpiece of the party. At that time, the Jewish street was “very hot” from a political perspective. Over and above the factional battles and usual debates, preparations were taking place for the language convention that was to take place later in Czernowitz. As a large city near Czernowitz, Stanislawow became a center for Jewish writers and poets who had come to “win over the people” to the ideas of Czernowitz. I was caught in between the extreme Yiddishists on one side and the extreme Hebraists on the other side -- to which the majority of my friends from the party belonged. I was caught up in a stubborn and vexing battle between the extremists on both the right and the left.

The editorship of the “Der Yiddisher Arbeiter” weekly in Stanislawow was very difficult for me, in particular due to the fact that the newspaper was printed in Lwow, it was always necessary to find material on time, and I was not able to abandon my private affairs. To my good fortune, after some time, Yaakov Zerubavel came and took upon himself the role of editorial assistant. It is appropriate to note that during that time the party founded a publishing house in Stanislawow called “Bildung” (Haskalah), which published a literary anthology edited by Zerubavel and the well-known booklet of Leon Chazanowicz against the aims Jewish Colonization Association to settle Argentina. This booklet had a strong impact in the Jewish world.

It is easy to understand that the “Poale Zion” party was a strong communal force in Stanislawow at that time. This was expressed particularly during the general parliamentary elections of 5671 (1911) when the party, along with the nationalist camp, fought against political assimilationism and in support of the nationalist candidate Dr. Gershon Zipper. In order to understand the nationalist enthusiasm that encompassed broad circles during that timeframe, it is sufficient to peruse several issues of the “Der Yud” weekly that was published in Stanislawow under the joint editorship of Meir Hanish and the writer of these lines. The national struggle during that period was a struggle of an oppressed and deceived nation for civic and democratic freedom. The nationalist parties lost the battle for parliamentary representation, but the battle itself strengthened

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their powers, encouraged their spirit and purified the political atmosphere that was polluted by the assimilationists and “run of the mill strongmen” of various types.

The years 1912-1913 and 1914 until the outbreak of the First World War were years of economic crisis, poverty and stress. This situation was serious enough that many people saw the war as the beginning of salvation. The merchants, who again were unable to obtain charitable funds to pay of their contracts, welcomed the moratorium that was declared with joy and emotion, as if a heavy yoke was lifted from their back. The party was prevented from undertaking large scale activity during that difficult time. Many of its members were drafted to the army and went out to the front. A large percentage of the population moved to the western regions of Austria and began a life as wandering refugees. However, even during the war the party did not cease its activities. The members who lived permanently in Vienna or who happened to be there as refugees or soldiers on furlough would gather together often. A regular connection was maintained, to a greater or lesser degree, with the soldiers in their various units. The mouthpiece of the party continued to be published and, among other places, was sent to the members in army service. A great deal of thought and lengthy debates were dedicated to the problems that would follow the war, especially to the problems of Zionism. It is possible to say without exaggeration that “Poale Zion” was the most active of the Jewish parties. It is also appropriate to note the activities of its members such as Shlomo Kaplansky, Leon Chazanowicz and Berl Luker in the international arena. At that time, Max Rosenfeld delved into the issue of national minorities in general, and the question of Jewish-Polish relations in particular, in such a way that after the war, “Poale Zion” along with the general Zionists were the first to engage in the restoration of Jewish life and the healing of the wounds of war.

Such was the situation in Stanislawow, which was fated to fulfill a unique political task as the provisional capital of the western district (Oblast) of the Ukrainian National Republic. With the rise of the “National Jewish Council of Stanislawow” and the “National Jewish Council of Eastern Galicia” whose seat was in Stanislawow, “Poale Zion” filled a very important and at times even a decisive role. Others (N. M. Gelber) wrote about this time frame in this book, and therefore I will suffice myself by mentioning that the methods of the Jewish national struggle, including in the founding of the Jewish National Council of Stanislawow, “Poale Zion” was the force that pushed the general Zionists in the direction of decisive activity. After the breakup of the Austrian Hapsburg Empire and the Ukrainian declaration of independence in eastern Galicia and the establishment of their capital in Stanislawow, the Zionists at first did not want to establish and declare Jewish national autonomy. At an urgent consultation with activists that was convened in the home of Dr. Hillel Zusman, the general Zionists expressed hesitation and concerns regarding the forming of the Jewish national council along with “Poale Zion”, even though they were obligated to do so in accordance with resolutions of the convention in Vienna. Only with the decisive pressure exerted by “Poale Zion” did the general Zionists agree to form the Jewish National Council, by terming it as “provisional”. Along with them came all of the powers of the assimilationist circles as well as a group of associates from the former communal activists, apparently with the aim of ensuring that “Poale Zion” would be a small minority.

[Page 188]

In order to understand the relationship of the general Zionists in Stanislawow toward “Poale Zion”, I wish to mention here a statement of Dr. David Maltz, a member of the elder generation of Galician Zionists, regarding the Zionist leaders in Stanislawow. “Dr. Yaakov Laufer is a democratic Zionist; Dr. Hillel Zusman is a conservative Zionist, however Dr. Anselm Halpern is a feudal Zionist.” In real politics, not only did the “feudal” Zionists and “conservative Zionists” stand against “Poale Zion”, but in most cases the “democrats” also did so, even though during times of political need, “Poale Zion” formed the left flank of the nationalist front.

Here is another point regarding the Jewish National Council in eastern Galicia. In the book of my late friend Reuven Fahen, the only book published on the topic of that autonomous Jewish body during the time of Ukrainian rule in eastern Galicia, the misleading idea is brought down that “Poale Zion” strongly opposed Hebrew in the National Council and was simply an enemy of that language and the Hebrew school. The delegates of “Poale Zion” on the active committee of the Jewish National Council in eastern Galicia were Hindzhi Horowitz and myself, and there is no reason at all to blame us for something that was not within us.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Gush Chalav is a town in the northern Galilee. Its Roman name was Giscala. Return
  2. There is a footnote in the text here as follows: The aforementioned details of the “Achva” activities during its first years were given by Shmuel Bibering, one of is veteran members. Return
  3. There is a footnote in the text here as follows: After the First World War, he immigrated to America and joined the Communist ranks there. As was heard, he was sent by them on an official mission to Soviet Russia, where he is today. Return
  4. The Hebrew year here is written as 5674, which appears to be a typographical error. Return
  5. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelma,_Palestine Return
  6. There is a footnote in the text here, as follows: In his article “Misaviv Ledegania” (“Davar” number 6472), Yaakov Rabinowitz recalls Zusman with regard to the Work Group. He writes, 'Indeed, I do not remember why, but my memory now focuses on one of the two workers who worked in the area of Jerusalem at the beginning of the First World War. One of them, Zusman, a young man whom I had known in Petach Tikva, worked together with another person or two with the German farmers of Wilhelma in order to master the work and the farm economy.'” Return
  7. There is a footnote in the text here, as follows: It should be noted that already at the Zionist convention in Galicia in 1901, during his speech on the organizational issue, Dr. Braude demanded not only political action “to enable participation and action in all questions related to communal life”, but also the founding of an autonomous political organization in Galicia. This demand was pushed aside as “progressive” on account of the strong opposition from the central committee in Vienna. The convention sufficed itself with a declaration that the establishment of an organization devoted to economics and culture for the Jews of Galicia would be desirable. Return
  8. There is a footnote in the text here, as follows: Regarding this matter, see the speeches of Stand in the parliament (the writings of A. Stand in Hebrew translation). Return
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