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[Pages 154]

The Hitachdut Party in our City

By Mordechai Miraz (Zawelewski)

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The majority of the members of Hitachdut[1] in Mezritsh grew up, as they did everywhere else, in a homey atmosphere. The Jewish home, whether it was a staunchly Zionist home, or a traditional and not necessarily Zionist home, had its influence, without any particular effort on the part of the parent–educators. Each child was imbued with a fundamental Jewish spirit. From one's youth, a person's consciousness was forged through a connection to his people, his religion, and his history. The Chumash[2], the legends that he heard from his rabbis, the stories of the Bible – all these instilled knowledge about one's past and about one's land. The Sabbath, the festivals and the Nine Days of mourning concluding with Tisha Be'Av, the fasts, and the like, all implanted in him the love of his people and the desire for its redemption.

 

mie154.jpg
Farewell party for Dr. Rosenbush

 

In former days, people were satisfied with Zionist ideology exclusively. The First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the aliya to the Land of Israel set off tremors and soul searching. Zionist youth was no longer satisfied with simply collecting the shekel [token of membership in the Zionist movement]; they searched for ways to repair both their nation and the world. The members of Tzeirei Zion[3] in Mezritsh, as in all other locations, who originally stood unified under one roof, found themselves at a crossroads. Each person

[Pages 155]

was asked to respond [to the question]: Are you with us or with the other camp – for Poalei Zion or for those who promoting a merger with the members of HaPoel HaTzair[4]?

There was an active, practical, tradition of Zionism in Mezritsh. The memory of the founders of Yesod HaMaala[5] brought a sense of inspiration and pride, and a desire to follow in their footsteps, since one principle of the group's ideology was the actualization of their convictions. When forced to come to a decision, the members of Tzeirei Zion were divided. Some tended toward Poalei Zion[6] and others toward Hitachdut, which had the decisive majority. Tzvi Bojgman, may G–d avenge his blood, David Charuzi (Manperl), who was among the first to make aliya, Yaakov Lebenglik of blessed memory, Avraham Manperl, Shmuel Rozenzweig, Tova Leb, Leib Glozsznajder, Nota Hausman, Moshe Tron, Tikva Szapira, David Ajzensztejn, Mordechai Sztejn, Mottel Goldberg, and others stood out among the first activists of those days.

Immediately after its appearance, Hitachdut became an influential factor [in our city]. We were active in communal life. As Zionists with a firm ideology, we sought to project our influence in all realms, whether in [Jewish] communal or civic affairs. We were the living spirit within the Zionist movement in our town.

At first, we devoted ourselves to repairing the image of the public Hebrew school, which later changed its name to Tarbut. Indeed, even people who were not part of Hitachdut took part in the work for the Tarbut School, but the members of Hitachdut were the most active.

Our members were very active in the election campaigns. As Zionists, we did everything for the Jewish list [of candidates], and we took interest in its success, for members of Hitachdut were included in that list.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that our members led others in the work for the Keren Kayemet[7]. Our member David Ajzensztejn was the secretary, and another member, Tzvi Bojgman, was the delegate of the Warsaw headquarters. Our member Moshe Tron served as the secretary of the leadership committee of the Tarbut School, headed by Reb Shmuel Pinchas Jawerbaum, from the time of its founding until he made aliya to the Land.

We volunteered a great deal during the fundraising [campaigns] for Zionist causes, such as for the Keren HaYesod[8] and others. Here too, our member Tron served as the secretary, and Reb Shmuel Pinchas Jawerbaum, a general Zionist, served as the chairman. Aside from this, we conducted publicity activities amongst the youth. We arranged performances, parties and debates on the topics of Zionism, on our Socialist Zionist belief, and on Jewish topics in general. After the tragic death of Dr. de Haan[9], we arranged a communal trial before a large audience. There was a prosecutor, witnesses, and a defense attorney. Our member Hausman was the defense attorney.

We did not stop at this. Since our chapter was the largest in the region, we saw the need to strengthen the other chapters. Our members set out to Mordy, Łosicz, Konstantyn, Janów Podlaski, Sarnaki, Komarówka, Wohiń, and Łomazy. We also hosted a convention in our city of chapters from the entire region. The convention took place in the meeting hall of the City Hall, with a large crowd in attendance, and with the participation of Yaakov Bialypolski from the headquarters. Our member Binyamin Grosberg opened the convention with a speech in Hebrew. It was no easy matter to reserve the meeting hall of the City Hall [for the event]. The hall was put at our disposal through the efforts of our member Nota Hausman, who served as vice mayor.

[Pages 156]

 

mie156.jpg
Members of the city council during the time
that Nota Hausman served as the vice mayor
The Jewish members of the council: First row (right to left) 1. Chaim Kronhartz, 2. Mottel Goldberg
Second row: 1. Yaakov Rozenzumen, 3. Dr. Bochnik, 4. Yitzchak Sapir, 5. Brokasz, 6. Goldman
Third row: 1. Moshe Rozenzumen, 2. Dr. Kaplan, 4. Nota Hausman

 

[Pages 17]

Our member Hausman was well accepted among all the people of the city, and earned great praise, even from his opponents.

In 1925, one of our leaders, Dr. Tarlo came to town to open the Keren HaYesod campaign. His appearance made a great impression. His speeches resonated with the audience, who had come in large numbers to listen to him. As a result of this, a chapter of Gordonia[10] was established. Its activists included Ch. Sh. Goldfreid, Shmuel Bojgman, Moshe Wajman, Bluma Hausman, and Binyamin Grosberg.

Of course, one of Hitachdut's principles was pioneering and the actualization of Zionist ideals. In order to prepare the members for aliya and for the physical labor [that would be required of them] in the Land, we opened up a metal–working shop, and registered 15 members. The metal–working shop was in the mansion of Reb Mottel Frajdman on Koscilona Street. Matityahu Segal was the volunteer counselor. It closed down after a few months due to a budgetary shortage. In its place we started courses on the topic of construction, but we did not have the ability to continue with them. Our member Moshe Palevski was one of the heads of Hechalutz[11] until he made aliya to the Land. Following him, the writer of these lines and Binyamin Grosberg served as chairmen. I want to note here the memory of our member Sznajder. He came to us from Rowno, and engaged in wide–ranging work. He quickly became one of the most active people in the chapter.

 

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The Hitachdut Council, Mezritsh, second intermediate day of Sukkot, 5684 (1923)
First row, left to right: 1. Matis Goldsztejn, 2. Rosenfeld, 3. Yeshayahu Rybak, 4. Shlomo Winderbaum
Second row: 1. Binyamin Grosberg, 2. Sznajder, 3. Maltza Barg, 4. Moshe Tron, 5. Meir Rosenberg

 

[Pages 158]

The “Mezritcher Trybuna” is a story unto itself. Our member H. Bojgman (Tzvi Keshet) participated in the editorial committee as a member of Hitachdut and was among the first to write articles [for the newspaper].

This newspaper was accepted by Zionists, Zionist sympathizers and by those unaffiliated [with a party], and also earned significant recognition among its opponents. It was published until just prior to the outbreak of the war.

As has been said, Hitachdut was the living spirit of communal and Zionist activities. The living spirit within Hitachdut was our member Moshe Tron. It is worth noting that though he never sought a representative office in any organization, everyone knew that he was the power behind the movement. His textile shop served as a center of party activity more than it served as a place of business. After he made aliya to the Land, our member Shlomo Winderbaum was appointed as the secretary of the Tarbut School as well as to the building committee, which was to oversee the erection of a new building.

It is a pity that not all of them lived to see the fruits of their labor in the Land.

 

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With our member Moshe Tron on the occasion of his aliya to the Land

 


Translator and Editor's Footnotes

  1. Hitachdut – A socialist Zionist workers party, formed by the merger of Hapoel HaTzair with Tzeirei Zion. For more information about Hitachdut, see http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0009_0_09057.html return
  2. Chumash – The Torah in printed form, as opposed to the scroll. return
  3. Tzeirei Zion – Young Zion. This was an ideological circle that studied Zionism, socialism and Jewish history. They merged with the Hashomer movement to form Hashomer Hatzair. For more information about Tzeirei Zion in Mezritsh, see pp. 136–147 of this Yizkor Book. return
  4. Hapoel HaTzair – a socialist Zionist group active in the Land of Israel in the early part of the 20th C. For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hapoel_Hatzair return
  5. For more information on Yesod HaMaala, founded by Mezritshers, see pp. 81–82 of this Yizkor Book. return
  6. Poalei Zion – a Marxist–Zionist workers movement in Eastern Europe. For more information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poale_Zion . There is abundant mention of Poalei Zion in this Yizkor Book. return
  7. Keren Kayemet LeIsrael – The Jewish National Fund for Israel. For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_National_Fund return
  8. Keren HaYesod – The Foundation Fund (United Israel Appeal). For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keren_Hayesod return
  9. For more information on Dr. de Haan, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Isra%C3%ABl_de_Haan return
  10. Gordonia – a Zionist youth movement. For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordonia_(youth_movement) return
  11. Hechalutz – A Zionist youth movement. For more information on the movement in Mezritsh, see pp. 182–192 of this Yizkor Book. See also http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0008_0_08655.html return

 

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