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[Page 145]

The Zionist Histadrut in our City

Translated by Miriam Bluestone

Edited by Rona G. Finkelstein

Organized Zionism was already in existence in our city from the eve of the First World War. It was of limited scope, but its results were substantial a step toward the realistic attainment of Zionism and the Aliyah of the first of the chalutzim from Radzymin to the land of Israel about two years after the end of the war.

In the 20s the Zionist Histadrut was organized in our city with great energy and momentum. At its head were Shalom Litevka, Mendel Kosover, Moshe Baruch Ashman, Bunim Radzyminsky [later in Israel, Ben Razy], Shmuel Kaminsky, Shimon Dembosky, Abraham Yonish, Naftali Bromberg and Eli Gingold. The Zionist Histadrut influenced the communal life of the city in different areas. In addition to its communal library “Tarbut”, the organization developed strong cultural activity, including Sabbath evening lectures as well as weekday lectures. The young people argued heatedly on many subjects, such as building of the Land, literature, culture and safeguarding the civil liberties of Polish Jews.

Important people were brought in from Warsaw to lecture on Zionist topics. Among them were Yitzhak Gruenbaum, Dr. Yitzhak Shiffer, Dr. Moshe Kleinbaum (SNEH = Burning Bush in Hebrew), engineer Yitzhak Landstok (currently “Alon” in Israel), Dov Straubaum and others. They were in charge of organizing the Zionist Histadrut in our city and were official representatives of the National Funds (Keren Hayesod and Keren Kayemet).

The library “Tarbut” developed quickly. It included hundreds of books in Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish. The library board encouraged reading and exchanging books to increase ease of conversation and knowledge of the subject matter of books as well as their authors. Near the library, reading clubs and Hebrew classes were organized to discuss current writings and newspapers.

During that period in Poland the Zionist Histadrut split into three factions, Al HaMishmar (“On Guard”), Et Livnoth (“A Time to Build”), and B'rit Atzoar (The Revisionists), all within the framework of the Zionist Histadrut. This split influenced our branch in Radzymin. Most of the members in our city identified with Al HaMishmar, at whose head was Yitzhak Gruenbaum. The leadership of the faction in Warsaw encouraged the branches to have suitable activities to create a good presence in the Jewish community and the city council.

In the election to the city council, the Zionists succeeded in electing a number of representatives: Abraham Don, Moshe Baruch Ashman, Abraham Zlotilas, Yehiel Tchepansky. The latter was elected as a member of the city government. In the Jewish community the Zionist Histadrut was represented by Yehiel Tchepansky, Israel Yaakov Warshawsky and Shmuel Oppenheim. The cultural activities were assigned to Bunim Radzyminsky, Mendel Kosover, Yitzhak Hochman, Bunim Weinglass, the brothers Avraham and Laybel Yonish, Shalom Kosover, Esther Treister,
Esther Goldstern and Simcha Goldstern. Appointed among the workers of the library “Tarbuth” were Chanshe Kosover, Rochele Yonish, Ita Treister, Hannah Neimark and Herschel Futerman.

Po'alei Zion, Left (Liberal Zionist Group)

In the twenties a branch of the Po'alei Zion Left was organized in our city, headed by Shlomo Morgenstern, Yehoshuah Epstein, Yaakov Oppenheim and Eliezer Frager. The founder of the group was the teacher Kastel from Warsaw, who was sent by the party in Warsaw to neighboring cities to fulfill requests for lectures by the Zionist parties.

The branch Po'alei Zion Left was successful in developing a strong cultural program as well as political activities. During this period the branch succeeded in bringing distinguished speakers to Radzymin who lectured on political and cultural topics in the auditorium “Ochrona”. Among the guest lecturers were Yaakov Zruvavel, Yaakov Pat, Dov Bar Malchin, Buchsbaum, Moshe Waida and others.

The starosta (head of the town) in those days, Vladislav Korsak, at one time the wise minister of the interior in Poland, appeared several times as a lecturer at the meetings of the Po'alei Zion Left in Radzymin. He lectured to the group on Borochowism. The starosta was very knowledgeable concerning the national problems of the Jews in Poland and in the world. Being sympathetic to our problems, it is understandable that during the years of his university studies in Kiev he had become friendly with Bar Borochow and his books, and he personally studied Borochowism.

Po'alei Zion, Right

In the beginning of the thirties the branch Po'alei Zion Right, whose seed was already evident in the twenties, became very active in our city. The branch had its own meeting place. It organized a wind orchestra of its own, and once this orchestra was invited to accompany the demonstration of Po'alei Zion Right in Warsaw on May 1. The branch conducted demonstrations widely for the benefit of Socialist Zionism, and it identified with the working element of Eretz Yisrael.

With the members of the branch were also included members who were not swept along with left-stream anti-Zionism. They dreamed of building their future in the land of Israel as workers and physical laborers. Among the workers of Po'alei Zion Right from Warsaw who led the Radzymin branch at different times were the brothers Abraham and Yaakov Biapolsky, Leib Shpizman, Silverman and others. Active members of Po'alei Zion Right included Yitzhak Hersch Yonish, Leibel Yonish, Yitzhak Puterman, Shlomo Potosh, Shlomo Stardiner, Mordechai Halbershtat and Beryl Nidzvitsky.
At a certain point there crystallized in the branch a group of Hitachdut (“Unification”) at whose helm in Warsaw was Abraham Levinson. Also serving with the group were Yehoshuah Goldstein, Yehoshuah Treister and Yitzhak Hochman.

The Mizrachi (Zionists, people who look toward Jerusalem)

In the beginning of the twenties a branch of Mizrachi and of Mizrachi Youth were formed
in Radzymin. The Mizrachi, religious Zionists, succeeded in countering the anti-Zionists of Agudat Israel. The workers of Mizrachi were very active in the National Funds and engaged in all other areas of Zionist effort as well. Members of the Mizrachi branch in our city were Rabbi Menachem Hagar and Yaakov Chaim Grunberg, who lectured in the synagogues and called on the Jewish community to participate in the building of the Land and to encourage the youth to make Aliyah. The fiery evenings on which Rabbi Hagar and Grunberg lectured, I still remember to this day.

Rabbi Hagar was opposed by the Hasidim of Gur. They deplored that a rabbi in Israel should associate with Zionist free-thinkers. But Rabbi Grunberg was also opposed by the Zionist youth for his criticism of Zionist organizations that did not comply with religious requirements. This polemic continued in the community night and day.

Among the members of the Mizrachi in our community were: Shmuel Zeinwel Epstein, Reuven Bzezinsky, Chaim Radziner, Chanina Kaminsky, Herschel Wagman, Avram Shlivkovsky, Avram Radziner and others.

Jewish National Fund for Israel

The Jewish National Fund for Israel comprised an umbrella organization that included all the Zionist groups in the city. Through the collection of funds to redeem the land they were able to see actual Zionist work in progress and the beginning of the realization of the Zionist dream.

As usual, the J.N.F. organized a “day of flowers” on Wednesday, a market day. Many villagers who came to the city on market day were proud when a pair of youngsters, a boy and a girl, came to collect donations. For the most part, the Jews who received the blue and white pins did not understand the explanation of the purpose of their contributions of money into the J.N.F. blue boxes.

Among the active members of the J.N.F. were: the brothers Leibel and Abraham Yonish, Barish Avkovitz, Zislah Ashkenazi, Shlomo Ashman, Israel Yaakov Varshofsky, Rochele Yonish (the sister of Leibel), Mendel Gingold, Sholom Kosover, Raiza Gingold, Esther Treister, Esther Goldstein, the brothers Chaim, Shlomo and Abraham Yonish, Zev Liberant and others.

p. 177. Committee of Zionist Histadrut in Radzymin
p. 178. Committee of the Cultural Histadrut, Radzymin, 1932
p. 179. Committee for the National Fund (Keren Kayemet) for Israel

[Page 193]

Hashomer Haleomi (The National Guardians)–
Hanaor Hatzoni (The Young Zionists) “The Zionist Youth”

Shalom Kosover

Translated by Ed Friedman

The group was established in our town in January of 1929, in the Zionist Club (community club). The group consisted of young people, among them some of the past members of a Hasomer Hatzair (The Young Guardians) group that had fallen apart in Radzymin.

The past Hashomer Hatzair fell apart two years previously, which is why everyone wanted to reorganize the branch once more. The break down of the old group happened mainly because of a lack of organization and ideas that managed the Zionist movement in Poland in the late 1920s. Also, the disorganization led to the failure of the 4th aliyah (out of Poland), and most of those who left chose to return. Some of those who returned did so because of their opposition to the group's leftist inclinations. Because of the new ideas of the group, there was an understanding that the new “shomer” movement preferred to be without a party, to be a more visionary Zionism, and that the members would be 18 and older.

[Page 194]

After a few years, we felt as though the “shomer” had turned into a bunker for tons of youth, from all levels and all ages. Within the walls of the clubhouse, the daily worries were forgotten and the youthful fun returned.

It was emphasized even more when we were in a circle on a wintry night and everyone in the village danced and sang “Al Ha-Emek V'al Ha-Galil” (about the valley of Jordan, the Galilee, the Kineret, and the far away birth lands).

Only a few had the privilege of fulfilling their dream. Most of them were not able to go to Israel. The ones who were able to go were those who already had received the permission after finishing “group skill” (this term my mother had trouble translating – she said it was some sort of group training, but she couldn't exactly explain it), and were awaiting certificates. Among those who could leave were Hannah Neiman, Zahara Zalman, Rachel Osovsky, Shmuel Avkovitz, and my brother Avraham. May their names be remembered and blessed. For our brother and friends that were torn and were annihilated in the spring of their lives, we will mourn them, and we will remember them forever.

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