Translated by Sheli Fain
In order to write this book, I researched many libraries and archives in Israel and received advice from friends and acquaintances. I would like to thank them all for their help.
The Labour Archives (Tel Aviv), The Central Zionist Archives and the National and University Library (Jerusalem), The Archives of the Bessarabia Expats; The BeitDavid Archives established by Mendel Davidson (now Beit Hatfutsot, The Museum of the Jewish People, Tel Aviv), The Archives of Trumpeldor House (Tel Yoseph); The Archives of The Ghetto Fighters House; The Russian Zionist Archives, established by Aryeh RafaeliTzantzifer, (Tel Aviv); The Archives of HaShomer HaTzair, (Merchavia); The Israel Historical Society (Jerusalem), Yad Weitzman (Rehovot); The Jabotinsky Institute (Tel Aviv).
Many thanks to my friend B.I. Michali, who advised me from the beginning to the end of this work and helped with its editing and publishing and to the friends and acquaintances who helped with various parts of the manuscript, encouraged me and provided wise comments, my late brother Meir, zl, and my brother Yehoshua Vinitzky, Meir Zeit, Zeev Yakobi, Aharon Cohen, Michael Landau, Dr. Ezra Mendelson, Minister Nathan Peled and Dr. Eliyahu Feldman.
Many thanks to my friends who provided me with documents: Dr. Yoseph Avner, Aryeh Abrahami, Zeev Igirt, Michael Amitz, Yoseph Apel, Sh. Barsky, Mordechai Berger, Gad Barkiakhu, Engineer Yakov Gafter, Dr. Asher Goldshtein, zl, Meir Gorodetsky, Michael Goren, Abraham Greenberg, Hadasa Dubnow, David Doron, Amnon Doron, Zadok Weinshtein, zl, Rafael Vinitzky, Navah Vinitzky, Yitzschak Hitron, Etya HaimovichDlugatsh, Aharon TurCaspa, Aharon Tal, Hanoch Yorev, Aharon Cohen, Nachman Levanon, Amelia MeidanekGleini, Dov Mishali, Pinchas Mishori, Zehava SobolFishman, Israel Skwirsky, Tzvi Ekroni, Riva PorerInai, David Fistrov, Baruch Kamin, Miriam RabinMoshenzon, Ahuva Rodnik, Mordechai Rashpi, Yakov Sharf, Devora Shechter, Rina ShechterZilberman, Abraham Shnier and Dov Shafrir.
Thanks to the Jewish Cultural Fund and to the Department of Social Integration of the Ministry of Absorption.
Thanks to the Printing Houses Maiu and Ahdut for their help in preparing the illustrations.
And finally, many thanks to my friend and brother K.A. Bertini for his help with publishing this book, the selection and the organization of the documents and the book structure.
Translated by Sheli Fain
The author does not intend to present in this book the history of the Zionist movement in Bessarabia; instead he wants to bring a series of chapters and reviews regarding this subject, which will serve as material for the researchers who will further study this subject. There is one big obstacle in the study of this topic and it is the lack of primary sources and unbroken and comprehensive materials about the Jewish community's everyday life in general and the National movement in particular in the last 50 years. The Jewish organizations in Europe did not think it is important to safeguard the materials they collected in their offices. Even though they had committees that worked for the National Library in Jerusalem, they did not have organized archives. The Jewish press did not consider an obligation to send its publications to Jerusalem the way they were offering them to the state archives; and even the National Library management did not succeed in collecting all the publications from the Diaspora. Even the central institutions in Israel did not bother to collect documents about their activities in the Diaspora. It is possible that even today many people in Israel and in the Diaspora have many important historical documents, but not collections. It is also safe to say that a lot of important documents were lost.
The author had a lot of difficulties and worked hard to collect small fragments from archives or dispersed journals. The completion of the documentation was done from memories, even when the events took place tens of years ago. The author had some knowledge about the materials at the Zionist Centre in Kishinev. It's possible that the author will be blamed for subjectivity, and it's impossible to escape that; the past is not that far away, so it can't be totally escaped.
This work is far from being complete because there are still sources to be uncovered, but the author was forced to be satisfied with the existing materials. Until now there was no one to salvage the neglected archives. When new sources will be discovered researchers are invited to expand this framework and to build on it.
All these factors have directed me to the present framework and to study the urban areas of Bessarabia and Kishinev rather than the smaller settlements in Bessarabia. In fact, Kishinev is a model of the conditions of the entire district.
This work is dedicated to the activities of the Zionist Federation the main power, the light and the spirit of the Jewish community life. It includes items that are not part of the Zionist activities, but that are somehow related to them in one way or other. The Bund, which was active in Bessarabia in the early years of the revolution, disappeared as a party immediately after the annexation to Romania. Its position on the Jewish street declined after the national awakening caused by the Balfour Declaration and it was forced to retreat. It is correct to say that since then, only a few Bund leaders remained in Bessarabia, but without followers. The leaders of the Bund tried to publish a daily Yiddish apolitical newspaper, which folded after 4 months (December 1919 to April 1920).
In the same time a Congress of all Romanian Bund took place in Chernovits. Chernovits was designated as headquarters of the Bund and Dr. Yakov Fistiner was elected the Chairman of the Bund. Hertz Gilishensky from the Bund leadership in Kishinev was elected secretary. After a short time even Gilishensky moved to Chernovits where the Bund coexisted with the powerful General Socialist Party.
The faithful remaining Bund members in Bessarabia concentrated on public Jewish activities especially in the Yiddish culture and education and founded the Kultur Lige (Culture League, 1918). Parallel with the Bund Culture League in Bucovina, the Morgenroit, they founded in Kishinev a type of School Board (ShulFarain) and since then the Morgenroit and the Shul Farain began their fight. The Morgenroit boycotted the Third allRomanian Congress in Chernovits in April 1923 and the Bund got publicly blamed for wanting to take over the leadership, not because of a flourishing activity, but because of its personal political interests. The Shul Farain functioned until the beginning of the 1920s when the Yiddish schools were driven out by the forced Romanization.
The author does not think it's necessary to speak about the activities of the Zionist parties separately. They all came together into the framework of the movement. He deals with the relationship to the various Youth Unions that formed the Pioneer (HeHalutz) movement.
In addition, it was not always easy to distinguish between the activities of the Zionist movement in Bessarabia and the ones in the rest of Romania.
Even though organizations such as Tarbut, Keren Hayesod, Keren Kayemet, the Zionist Federation, Mizrachi, Maccabi, HaZahar (The Revisionist Zionist Union) were independent in each district, the Tzeirei Zion, Poalei Zion, HeHalutz and the majority of youth organizations tried to keep a uniform framework in the entire country. Separate and accurate statistics
about HeHalutz organization or about immigration specifically from Bessarabia were difficult to obtain. The leaders of the national organizations were Bessarabian by birth, culture and residence when Bessarabia was still part of the Russian empire. They were inspired by the language, culture and principles of the national movement in Russia. The 22 years of Romanian rule could not bring together the different Jewish groups socially. There were always strong philosophical differences regarding the life of the community and society, culture and ways of life. These differences left their imprints during the Romanian rule.
This is the reason why we tried to do a separate analysis of the history of the Zionist movement in Bessarabia between the two World Wars disregarding the changes in borders and confusion among the counties borders which left their marks on the movement.
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