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[Columns 157-158]

Translations by Elena Hoffenberg


Poalei Tsiyon protests in the year 1935



Jews of Hrubieszów protest against the events in the land of Israel in the year 1929

[Columns 159-160]

Table of Contents

[Columns 161-162]

Zionist Beginnings

by Yankev Kahan (Tel Aviv, Israel)


The founders of Tseyre Tsiyon in Hrubieszów:
D. Shtukhamer, Dovid Brand, Shimshen Cohen and Yankev Kahan
Yankev Kahan


Founders of the Zionist Union in 1917
From right to left: Yisroel Shukhman, Itche Grinberg, Stuler and Dovid Brand


I believe that it was in the year 1906–7, in the time that almost all of the Jews of Hrubieszów hewed closely to traditional belief. At that very time a Hebrew school was opened by two brothers: Shalom and Avraham Bar Viner, z”l.[1]

This caused commotion in all the prayer houses and it was decided not to send their sons to the Viner brothers, who were Zionists and heretics and would lead their sons from the path of righteousness.

It was also said that the Viner brothers taught Tanakh and Khumesh[2] from the beginning to the end, and not according to the portion of the week. The people of the town and the teachers grumbled, but despite that the Viner brothers registered a certain number of students and some of them studied without having to pay tuition.

The Viner brothers z”l planted among us love for the people, the land, Hebrew, and the history of Israel. Their sowing bore fruit. Their students were founders and members of Tseyre Tsiyon[3] and Poalei Tsiyon[4] in Hrubieszów.


The Sejm Elections

Before the First World War in the time of the Austrian occupation there was already a small group in the town of members of Poalei Tsiyon: the writer of these lines, Moshe Herman and Anshel Shatz. The most important part of our work: distributing newspapers sent from the center in Warsaw.

For the elections to the first Polish Sejm[5], the center instructed us to visit houses and explain the value of voting for Poalei Tsiyon. How great was our joy that the community did not disappoint us and we won.

I, Moshe Herman, and Anshel Shatz were also founders of the first library in our town. Nineteen young men came together on one Saturday at the “Vigon”[6] behind the slaughter house in order to establish the library. We rented an attic room from the parents of our friend Anshel Schatz.

The library grew quickly. From day to day and week to week, members were added and I had my hands full with work.

The Bundist intelligentsia in our city laughed at us for daring to open a library and called us fools, because if there was any reason to open a library, they would have done so long ago.

The library prospered. Within a year the place was filled. The intellectuals who laughed at us also asked to join the library and their request was granted. We also bought books in Hebrew for Hebrew readers.

The Bundist intellectuals, despite being in the minority, grumbled about buying books in Hebrew. The explanation that there would be no library at all without the readers of Hebrew did not help. At the library's annual meeting, the Bundists managed to gather a majority, prevented our members from showing up, and decided to stop buying books in Hebrew or to divide the library.

[Text in black border at bottom of page]

In the school year 1906-7, the first Hebrew school was established in Hrubieszów on the initiative of the brothers Shalom and Avraham Bar-Viner.


Translator's Footnotes:
  1. z”l is an honorific Hebrew abbreviation meaning “may his/her name be a blessing”, or “of blessed memory”. Return
  2. Tanakh is an acronym derived from the names of the three divisions of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (Instruction, or Law, also called the Pentateuch), Neviim (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). Chumesh refers to the five biblical books that make up the Torah. Return
  3. ‘Zionist Youth’ movement. Return
  4. The ‘Jewish Social Democratic Workers Party’. Return
  5. Sejm: ‘Parliament’. Return
  6. Vignon means “paddock” or “pasture” in Russian. Return

[Columns 163-164]

The Tseyre Tsiyon Fraction

On the schedule for our union “HaTikvah,” the last item was the question of whether to join the Tseyre Tsiyon fraction in Poland.

After the first meeting of members, at which a report from the regional conference in Chelm was presented, a second meeting took place on February 22nd, at which the member Y. Shukhman (now in Jerusalem) elucidated the Tseyre Tsiyon position on various questions.

The annual general meeting took place on March 1st under the chairmanship of the member Levin (the Hebrew teacher in the folk school “HaTikvah”). In addition to the report from the leadership, the day's schedule included a point about joining the fraction.

The report was read. The organization included 220 members. Periodically, members in the area made speeches or read statements. The report recounted three public speeches by A. Fraynd from Warsaw, two literary evenings, and a theater performance. The union's folk school had 75 students in the two first classes (from this we can deduce that the folk school “HaTikvah” was founded a year earlier, that is in 1918). Hebrew was the language of instruction. More than 6,000 Austrian krone were raised for the Jewish National Fund and the total income for the last term of office was a total of 30,000 krone. 320 Shekels were sold.

The report lamented the difficult juridical situation of the organization. Because it did not have legal status, which had been rescinded by the Austrian state at that time, the organization was shut down by the Polish government and had to work in the greatest secrecy. That also hindered creating evening courses.

There were long discussions after the report. Due to the late hour, the meeting was adjourned. The gathering would be continued on March 3rd and dedicated to joining the fraction.

D. Brand (today in Tel Aviv) made a programmatic speech about Tseyre Tsiyon, which demonstrated the necessity of educating a special fraction in the organization (the local general Zionist organization).

Long and matter-of-fact debates followed the speech. The speaker answered questions that were posed. The following resolution was unanimously adopted:

The union “HaTikvah” would join the people's fraction “Tseyre Tsiyon.” They would be recognized as members and would receive new membership cards from the committee, so that the organization would only be composed of active, aware members. At the same time, the committee would be obligated to organize a general Zionist union and local committee for the members who did not want to join the fraction.

(from Bafrayung, Number 8, 19 Adar 5679, March 21st, 1919)


The Zionist drama group presents the play the “Great Jew” by Leo Kobrin in the year 1919

Standing from right to left: Avraham Cohen, Eliezer Ayzn, Shike Tsimes, Itshe Brener, Hilel Biterman, Yankev Cohen, Itshe Goldberg and Rivke Erlikh
Seated: Meyer Shtekher, Malka Krongold, Yisroel Sukhman, Pepi Finkelshteyn (the child), Frimet Valdman and Dovid Brand
Below: Shimshen Cohen and Dovid Shtokhamer


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