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[Col. 379-380]

Suwalk Institutions

Yaakov Aryeh Trop

Bikur Holim and Linat ha-Tsedek[1]

The Bikur Holim and Linat ha-Tsedek was one of the oldest institutions in Suwalk. During World War I it was sadly neglected. After the war, when the refugees returned, the attempt was made to rehabilitate it.

The first general meeting with this goal was in 1920. The following directorate was chosen: R'Mordekhay Vaysberg, President; Moshe Yosef Greyver, Vice President; Naftali Glikson, Treasurer; Hayim Koyfman; Tsevi Levontin; Elkanah Glatshteyn; Dov Berman; Yosef Aylender; Leyb Zarembovski; Tsevi Frenovits {Prenovits}; Avraham Stutsinski; Eliah Bernshteyn; Moshe Raflezon; Avraham Staviskovski {members}.

[Col. 380]

David Bandishkovski and I were secretaries. Most of the afore-mentioned were active until the Holocaust of 1939.

The budget of the Bikur Holim was not negligeable. Towards the end, it was 7000 zlotys. It was based on monthly payments by members. A special Sabbath was set aside for appeals for funds in all the synagogues.

[Col. 381]

Not everyone is capable of asking for help even when in dire need. There are some needy people who will rather suffer in silence than ask for charity. Therefore, the members of the directorate often had to seek out such cases. Between 1925 and 1939, there were many instances of support given to the needy without any publicity.

The local Jewish doctors cooperated with the work of Bikur Holim. During the period of Polish Independence, there were about ten Jewish doctors in Suwalk, most of who were connected with the Jewish hospital. Presented with a Bikur Holim certificate, doctors charged only one-third their usual fees. The Jewish doctors showed a feeling of brotherliness towards Jewish patients.

The directors also had an agreement with the Erdraykh-Akhran Pharmacy to give 40% discounts to holders of Bikur Holim prescriptions.

The doctors who cooperated with Bikur Holim during its last years were: Dr. Matanson; Dr. Vaysman; Dr. Strapolski; Dr. Rozntal; Dr. Grubshteyn; Dr. Preysman {Fraysman?}; Dr. Pigovski {Figovski?}; Dr. Sherman and Dr. Smalinski – the only one who survived the Holocaust.

Not only were medical care and free or discounted medicine provided, but, if necessary, poor patients were sent to special sanatoria or even to Warsaw. The Suwalk Bikur Holim also served the Jews of neighbouring villages.

The Bikur Holim was open 24-hours a day for the sick, providing not only medical care but also equipment not ordinarily found in every house; cups {for cupping}, rubber bands, thermometers, bathtubs and nourishing foods such as eggs, milk, butter and poultry.

Linat ha-Tsedek was an adjunct to Bikur Holim. This superb institution played an important role in the life of every Jewish community in the Old Country – Suwalk was not unique. When a Jewish family could not afford to pay a nurse for a severely ill member and the family was worn out from caring for him, Linat ha-Tsedek would send in two people to take care of the sick person's needs at night time. If there were no volunteers available, Linat ha-Tsedek would hire people to provide the necessary relief to the distraught family.

 

Membership card from Suwalk Artisans Society

 

Suwalk Jewish Artisans Society

Membership card n°122

Member_______Lipman[2]

N°46 Kosciuszko Street

Occupation. Goldsmith

Is a member of the Suwalk Jewish Artisans Society

Hon. President: Moshe ______[3]

Secretary: S. Blekerovits

Suwalk, Dec._________1920

Summary of by-laws

  1. A member of the Suwalk Jewish Artisans Society must be an artisan who agrees to accept these statutes of the society.
  2. Non-payment of dues for three consecutive months, without a valid reason, will abrogate one's membership.
  3. Every member must carry this card and show it when necessary.

[Col. 383]

The Bikur Holim and Linat ha-Tsedek had its own building purchased by the philanthropist and scholar, R'Hayim Shlomo, son of R'Yaakov Zilberman.

 

Artisans Society

In 1919, when the first government of Independent Poland promulgated laws concerning artisans, Khone Markovits initiated the founding of a society of Jewish artisans in Suwalk. He brought in Yosef Adlson, and A.B.Tsimerman became secretary. The first local {headquarter} was rented on Kosciuszko Street.

[Col. 384]

After some time spent in preparation, they called a general meeting of all artisans in Suwalk: bakers; butchers; tailors; cobblers; hatters; tinsmiths; coppersmiths; rope makers; brick layers; carpenters; house painters; blacksmiths; harness makers; etc.

At this meeting, the following people were elected to the directorate: Yosef Adlson, Honorary President; Khone Markovits, President; Shakne Finkel, Vice President; Aharon Varabeytsik; Smolian; Shukman; Smetsekhovski; Yagel; Trop; Eploym; Ramanovski; Reykh; Tsviling.

The local {headquarters} was used for meetings and also for a minyan[4], especially on the Sabbath and on holidays. They even had their own cantors – Varabeytsik, chief cantor and Moshe Reykh, associate cantor.

 

Linat ha-Tsedek and Bikur Holim
From right: seated. Row one. Mr. Koyfman; Ts.Leventin; M.Y. Grayver; M.Vaysberg; Y.Trop; (only one still alive) M.Rafelzon; M.Glikson
Second row: D.Berman; A.Bernshteyn; A.Staviskovski; Y.Aylender; L.Zarembovski; Ts.Frenovits {Prenovits}; A.Stutsinski; D.Bandzishkovski; A.Gladshteyn

[Col. 385]

As an organized body, the Jewish artisans played a role in Jewish life. For example: the following artisans were elected to the first community council: Yosef Adlson; Khone Markovits; Varabeytsik; Shukman; Smetsekhovski and Yagel. The society participated actively in town affairs. It also organized a library and a reading room. Every evening, the local was full of visitors.

The directorate worked very hard to protect the rights of the Jewish artisans in town. When orders came that required every artisan to be certified in his trade, this was very efficiently implemented by the directorate. The society also organized the artisans in neighbouring villages: Ratzk, Filipowe, Baklerowe, Psherosle, Wizshan, Yelineweee, Punsk, Saini. The Jewish artisans there also had to be certified and the Suwalk Artisans Society helped them fulfil this requirement.

The Society lasted until the outbreak of the Second World War.

 

Hakhnasat Orhim[5]

The old and well organized Suwalk Hospitality Inn was abandoned in 1914 because of the war. The army appropriated the beds and other equipment.

It had a synagogue with prayers three times a day. Every evening Mishnah was studied with Rabbi Yitshak Polotshek, of blessed memory. At the time of the war, everything ceased.

[Col. 386]

R.Mordekhay Meir Kleyman and his wife Hannah, who lived next door, kept the synagogue open. In 1921, when Suwalk householders started returning from their various places of refuge, the institution was revived.

R'Aryeh Kaletski, R'Aryeh Bialestotski, R'Tsevi Filipovski and R'Pinhas Levin began this important work. They collected beds and other necessities.

The same four men were elected at a general meeting to continue this work. There were 18 beds. One room with two beds was set aside for important guests.

In 1930, a new board of directors was elected at a general meeting. First warden: R'Yaakov Kavin; Second warden: R'Mordekhay Segal ha-Levi; Third Warden: R'Pinhas Levin: Treasurer: Yaakov Trop.

The shelter was rehabilitated and beautified and became a place to be proud of.

During the week, the guests had to provide their own food but were invited to various homes for the Sabbath meal. If there were too many residents and not enough hosts, the Rabbi and wardens would pay for the Sabbath meals for the guests.

The inn was maintained by monthly contributions from Suwalk householders. Once a year, on the Sabbath of Vayereh[6], there was a festive occasion when the Chief Rabbi of the City – Rabbi Yoselevitsh, of blessed memory, and after him – the last rabbi, Rabbi David Lifshits, may he live a long life, amen, used to speak on current affairs and charge the community to maintain the Jewish tradition of hospitality.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Visiting the sick and spending the night of righteousness Return
  2. First name illegible, begins with P ends with S Return
  3. Illegible Return
  4. Prayer quorum Return
  5. Hospitality Inn Return
  6. Portion of the week Return

 


[Col. 387-388]

Schools and Hadorim (Kheyders)

Caleb Khahovits, Stockholm

The biggest school in Suwalk, about fifty years ago, was Khaykl Meydads. It was part of his dwelling place on Synagogue Street. Khaykl was a well-educated man – a great Zionist. Hersl's picture hung in his school. He hired the best teachers. One of them, Vishinski, was later a Hebrew teacher and director of a gymnasia in Warsaw. The other teacher was named Vaynshteyn. The performances put on by the children for Jewish holidays were very popular. Rich and poor studied side-by-side in Khaykl's school. When a student graduated from this combination heder/school, he was filled with the best Jewish learning.

Gelman's heder was on Vesaler Street at Zerah's the shoemaker. Gelman was a sturdily built man with a long blond beard. He never sat while teaching but walked back and forth. His explanations of the Pentateuch were exemplary.

Polatshok's heder was also on Vesaler Street, opposite Zilbershteyn's bakery. He used to sit down next to each child on the bench, put his arm around him and explain the lesson. He was very devoted to his students.

[Col. 388]

Hurvit's heder for beginners was on Turme Street. This was the place where the angel threw coins down from heaven. Hurvits occasionally hit his students, but only lightly and affectionately. His heder had four windows and was light and airy.

There were also schools for girls, like Shimon Visheyski's school. It is not easy to find such a knowledgeable teacher nowadays. He was a Talmudist, a Hebraist and learned in secular subjects as well. Girls who graduated from his school knew Yiddish and Hebrew to perfection. There was another girls' school run by Vilkovski.

The young people were great readers. The finest and most modern books came to Suwalk. Zshilkovits had a bookstore on Shul Street. He had a treasure store of books which he also sold on the instalment plan. The other book dealer was Yavets. He used to stand in his chilly store, his fingers frozen, surrounded by the best books in Yiddish, Hebrew and other languages. Both stores were always full of young people.

Woe! Woe! – where has all this gone? Never again will there be such people, such children, and such schools.

 


[Col. 387-388]

Hoveve Zion in our city

Hayim Zeligson

Among the first followers of the Zionist ideal in Suwalk at the beginning of the century was a man named Diment. He was a well-to-do parvi-gildi[1] allowed by Czarist law to do business outside the Pale (i.e. where Jews were not permitted to live)

He owned a factory that made suspenders and other leather goods and he settled in Moscow. He gave his Suwalk residence, located on Shul Street opposite the Talmud Torah, to the local Hoveve Zion. There was a reading room and a synagogue for Sabbath and holiday services. The manager of the building was Daniel Rozntal, a fervent Zionist. He lived on the ground floor. Every Friday evening after dinner, Daniel would lecture on Zionism, describing how the Jewish state would appear among the nations of the world. These lectures aroused great enthusiasm.

[Col. 389]

Another leading Zionist was the dentist. Dr. Minski. He used to inspire the members with his wonderful talks about the coming redemption.

Another lecturer, Rabbi Mordekhay Doktor, as I recall, once cooled off the enthusiastic supporters of Dr. Minski by quoting from the Bible: “The Watchman says that morning has come, but it is still night”. While it was true that the Zionist ideal has dawned, its fulfilment is yet far. It is still night.

Nevertheless, the members were not too impressed by this pessimistic viewpoint and continued to read Ha-Melits, Ha-Tsefirah and Der Fraynd from St. Petersburg, for which Daniel Rozntal was the agent in Suwalk.[2]

Besides his Zionist obligations, Daniel Rozntal taught Russian in the Talmud Torah where he shared his classes with Sapelinski. The latter was very friendly with the Russian Director of Schools who was in charge of all the hadurim and Talmud Torahs in town.

When Daniel Rozntal got through with his teaching in the Talmud Torah, he would take care of the library and the large reading room which was always full of readers.

Once, there was a sudden noise at the windows of the reading rooms, and then rocks were thrown into the room. This happened a number of times and people began to be afraid to come.

What had happened? It seems that on the side-street which the Jews called “Velvl Tshelars” Street, there lived Diment's brother, a baker, who could not stand the fact that his own flesh-and-blood brother had

[Col. 391]

Simply given away such a house with free lodging to Daniel Rozntal and had not given it to him. He considered himself more entitled to the property. Since he could not take legal action, he threw stones at night. Finally, the Rozntal family got fed up with the situation and moved out. The house stood empty for a long time. In the summertime, the Cossacks who came from Augustow for training manoeuvres used the house as their temporary quarters.

Daniel Rozntal remained unemployed. His wife died of worry in 1904. After that, he left for America with his two children. In 1926 he left New York and settled in Jerusalem where he died in 1936.

Those members of Hoveve Zion, who remained loyal, prayed on the Sabbath and holidays in the meeting room of the Talmud Torah. They joined forces with the Tiferet Bahurim. Most of this group consisted of young men. Some of them could lead the prayers and read from the Torah, and they were all able to study Pentateuch with the commentaries of Rashi. Once a month, the chief Rabbi of Suwalk, Rabbi Tevele Katsenelenboygn would present a sermon before the group. Most of the combined group were not interested in Zionism. Most of them were artisans working as tailors, tanners and in other trades. When the labour movement reached Suwalk, many of the joined the Bund, Poale Zion, S.S., etc. With the passage of time, most of them immigrated to America.

This is how the fine Zionist organization in Suwalk was undermined, by the loss of its own building.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Possibly Yiddishized Lithuanian or Polish version of Latin for small merchant Return
  2. Names of Hebrew and Yiddish periodicals Return

 


Poale Zion in Suwalk[1]

Leybl Hen

Before World War I (1914) there were no organized Jewish parties playing any role in local Jewish life. We still remember the revolutionary period of 1905 when there were demonstrations, strikes,

[Col. 392]

unrest, even expropriations in Suwalk and in the Russian Empire in general. Suwalk had plenty of Jewish workers, especially tanners and fullers who would call strikes. There would be meetings led by Bundists, and many arrests…

 

First Society of Poale Zion in 1905, with “Der Veg” [periodical] in hand
Fourth in second row, former Suwalk banker, Salamianski
[2]

 

But in 1916, under the oppressive German occupation, an intense Jewish social life bloomed, thanks

[Col. 391]

to the presence of a number of students who could not return to Russia to pursue their studies because of the war. The Dramatic Society encouraged cultural activities and also gave cover to the nuclei of the Bund – Poale Zion and Jewish P.P.S [Polish Socialist Party.]

Rehearsals and meetings were held at the home of dry-goods merchant – Rozntsvayg – on Peterberg Prospekt, next to the Gardens. The place was made available through the efforts of a beautiful Bundist who had worked there. She took over the apartment and the business when the Rozntsvaygs fled after the outbreak

[Col. 392]

of the war. These names are inscribed in my memory for the period before 1918. Adleson, the later communal workers, Tsharnes, a Poale Zionist – profoundly knowledgeable, an official in the German City Council; the Poale Zionists – Engineer Trotski (director of the electric station); student Moshe Roznberg, son of Zionist family (now somewhere in Mexico); Zshenia Bramson; the teacher Yisrael ; Reuven Brinman from Ratsk and his brother “Hilik”, (killed in Bet Alfa, Israel during a battle with Arabs); Ella Altshuler and her brother Yablanski, a tailor (killed by the Poles); Hadassah Krasnapolski; Meir Smetshekhovski (photographer); the younger Vilenski; Natan Robinzon (now professor in Haifa Technion); Mendele and Leybush Smolinksi; Taybele Polnitski; Avraham Raykh (Israel) and (Leib?) Kagan.

Of the active Bundists, I remember the names of Remez (now in Chicago); Fushkantser (or Pushkantser); and many others whom I've forgotten. Reuven Brinman from Ratsk and his brother “Hilik”, (killed in Bet Alfa, Israel during a battle with Arabs): Pitluk, a watchmaker: S.Varabaytshik (Shimoni, now a high government official in Israel): Yehudit Finklshteyn (now in

[Col. 393]

Paris): Ella Altshuler and her brother, Yablanski, a sailor (killed by the Poles): Hadassah Krasnapolski: Meir Smetshekhovski (photographer): the younger Vilenski: Natan Robinzon (now professor in Haifa Technion):

[Col. 394]

Mendele and Leybush Smolinski: Taybele Polnitski: Avraham Raykh (Israel) and (Leib?) Kagan.

Of the active Bundists, I remember the names of Remez (now in Chicago): Fushkantser [or Pushkantser]: Glikson, and many others whom I've forgotten.

The Dramatic Society engendered a Literary Section - -,

[Col. 393]

Jewish Dramatic Club in Suwalk. 1917

 

which later gave rise to the workers and Zionist parties. The moving force behind the Dramatic Society was Zevulun Vilenski – the director and impresario, the beloved pal of all the participants. (He is now in Buenos Aires).

There was a communal library – (Grodner Street) but there were also small illegal libraries which distributed illegal party literature. The Linat Hatsedek Society was popular. The young members of Linat Hatsedek started a semi-legal Jewish sick-fund in 1917-1918, managed by Bundists and Poale Zionists.

The war period, 1914-1918 was a difficult and bitter time for Suwalk's Jews. The German occupation shut down the main sources of income, and most of the young men were pressed into forced labour, which

[Col. 394]

was later, no longer forced, but voluntary because there simply was nothing to eat. Large numbers of young men worked as lumberjacks in the [railroad? freight yards?] camps, in the horse hospitals on Kalvarie hill, and Saini highway and in the barrel factory of the German army. There, we youths, had the experience of living together like slaves under the German whip. There our class consciousness was hammered out and there, we discussed the methods and principles of Socialism. One workplace first infiltrated by Jewish youth at that time was the railroad. The Germans did not discriminate against the good Jewish locksmiths and those who would become conductors and brakemen.

In this way, a Jewish working class arose in Suwalk during the war. Together with the local journeymen tailors, cobblers, tanners, fullers [textile workers] and clerks, there were a few thousand of us.

[Col. 395]

In 1917, when the might of the German Junkers was undermined, and military discipline weakened, especially after the outbreak of the Russian revolution of February 1917, we started transferring our debates from the Literary Circle of the Dramatic Society, into our work places. The workplaces used to send “delegates” to the Circle and to the sick fund. Later, together with the P.P.S., we created the International Professional Society where the combined Poale Zion demanded, in the manner of that time, “Jewish Professional Sections”.

In 1918, there was a committee of the Suwalk community council which received aid from America – from the “Peoples Relief Committee” and, it seems to me, from the “Joint”. This committee opened a “people's kitchen”, and the first Bundists and Poale Zionists decided to demand representation. At that time, the German soldiers were about to elect a “Soldiers' Council”. The Poale Zion joined with the socialistically oriented German soldiers and negotiated to create a “Workers and Soldiers Council” on the Russian model.

The Bund and Poale Zion began to function as political parties at the home of industrialist Rozntsvayg, as previously mentioned. The Bund tried to rename the “Literary Section” as the “General Jewish Workers Bund” in Suwalk. This led to dissension. Finally, the Poale Zion left the “Section” and with its 120 members, rented a grand big apartment and officially proclaimed itself the “Poale Zion Party in Suwalk”. (1918).

The first step taken by the Party was the creation of a People's University named for the recently deceased Ber Borochov. The Bundists, meanwhile, started evening courses. Election Day for the first democratically elected Community Council in Suwalk, was approaching. The campaign was a stormy one, involved with language struggle (Yiddish vs. Hebrew). One recalls the large assemblies in the Arcadia theatre. The speaker for the Zionist party was the well-known Jacob Robinson, son of a teacher in Suwalk's Government school. The Bund's chief spokesman was Glikson, while Poale Zion received aid from outside: Issaak Platner and Barukh Vinagura from Warsaw and Rozntal from London.

The Workers' Council came to naught, because the Germans banned it. There was even a workers'

[Col. 396]

demonstration at that time in Suwalk, which was broken up by the machine guns of the “revolutionary” Germans, and your humble servant and some friends got their first taste of prison.

In 1919, Suwalk prepared to vote for its first elected City Council. Poale Zion demanded general, secret and proportional representation elections, while the P.P.S and the Bund, refused to go along with dicesan elections. They began to talk[3] like General (Josef) Haller [i.e. anti-Semitic grumbling] and Poale Zion started to organize an armed self-defence group.

The leadership of the “Professional Society” was proportionately made up of members of the Bund, Poale Zion and P.P.S. Thanks to the “Professional Society”, an eight-hour working day was installed in Suwalk for the first time on Purim, 1919.

I remember an event of that period. In the struggle between Lithuania and Poland over Suwalk, most of the Jews, including the Poale Zion, were pro-Lithuania. But the Polish Secret Military Organization, P.O.V. [Polska Organizacie Voiskawa ?], undermined this effort. They exploited the transition period and took over power in one day; first, taking over the City Council. They hung up the red shield with the white Polish eagle on the tower of City Hall. We, a bunch of Poale Zionists, quickly tore down the shield. This public act [of defiance] frightened the Jewish population.

Around 1920, there began to be dissension in the ranks of Poale Zion. Two trends crystallized: right and left. The Poale Zion was connected to two centres, Warsaw and Minsk; from which they received literature and periodicals, and both the Minsk leftists and the Warsaw rightists, sent delegates to Suwalk. From Minsk came Pintshuk and from Warsaw came Yudl Levin, the previously mentioned Platner and Vinogura. We received both delegations with the same respect for we were united by Borochovism, and our deep aspirations to leave for Palestine as quickly as possible.

Poale Zion of Suwalk called a wide ranging regional conference on Passover, 1919. The border between Lithuania and Poland was still vague and ill-defined, so delegates were able to come from Grodno, Vilkovishk (Lithuania), Saini, Augustow, Ratzk and even from Bialystok and other places which I forget. The Conference became, in fact, a duel between the delegates from Warsaw and Minsk. They tried to confuse the Poale Zion from Suwalk, who were very unsophisticated in matters of foreign politics. For the group from Suwalk, the most important goal was a working-class Palestine, but for many others, it was the Russian

[Col. 398]

revolution, which had made a deep impression. The behaviour of the P.P.S. in Poland, affected us as Jews, since the P.P.S. was the embodiment of the Social-Democratic way. It was a stormy conference, but it concluded peacefully.

The Poale Zion discussions were ended by the violence of the times. After Poland took over control of Suwalk, many Poale Zionists hasted to Lithuania, where they participated in the establishment of the Lithuanian Left Poale Zion Party; its press and its institutions.

 

 
The first Jewish Sport Organization in Suwalk. 1917-1918

[Col. 399]

The first era of Poale Zion activity in Suwalk ended in 1920. From 1920 on, Jewish community activities were carried on as intensively as before. There were Jewish parties of all trends, right and left, Zionists and anti-Zionists. We had folk shules, sport societies, cultural organizations, and a fine Hehalutz movement. All of this flourished thanks to the work of the first pioneers who laid the foundations in the bitter years of the First World War.

 


Translator's Footnotes

  1. The writer of this essay was very liberal in the use of quotation marks. He also used many localisms and esoteric words and references to events which had to be researched. Return
  2. No indication of whether the count is from left or right Return
  3. Very unclear. Polish word used, of Latin derivation, may also mean elections based on status. I feel that it means diocesan. Also not clear whether Bund agreed reluctantly, or refused outright. Return


[Col. 399]

Zionist Activists

Gedalia Simhoni, Haifa

At the end of the First World War, there began feverish educational activities preceding the elections to the Jewish community councils {kehilot}. The election campaign was led mainly by the leaders of various parties: Jacob Robinson, later the famous Sejm deputy in Lithuania and afterwards, legal advisor to the Israeli delegation to the UN and already, at that time, a fervent Zionist spokesman. Dr. Vaysman, Dr. Starapolski, Shmuel Roznberg and his son Moshe, Sukhovolski, Gutman, Halender, Remblinker, the Aynshtayn brothers, Matsman (all General Zionists), M. Fridman, Lizavski, and other representatives of “Mizrachi”, Avraham Glikson, Martshik (of the “Bund”) and others of the “Poale Zion”, and “Agudah”. They all participated in honest, but heated pre-election meetings.

At that time, almost all of the young Jews belonged to the scouts. When the Lithuanian Minister of War, Zshukas, visited Suwalk in 1917, the Jewish scouts prepared a reception and Jews thronged the highway. When Zshukas asked what he could do for us, the response was: “Give us the means to develop freely”.

During the first years of Polish Suwalk, the Jewish scouts did well. Gradually, they were displaced by the halutsic {pioneering} movement. The first halutism from Suwalk after World War I were: Austern, Fridman, Bakshteyn and others.

The main efforts of “Hehalutz” began after the riots in Yafo and the murder there of Y.H.Brenner in

[Col. 400]

May 1921. Young people streamed into the ranks of “Hehalutz” to prepare themselves for immigration to Palestine. Suwalk was the site of a “Mazkirut mehozit”, a regional secretariat of “Hehalutz”.

In and around Suwalk, there were a number of hakhshara kibbutzim {agricultural training collectives} where young people did hard physical work to prepare for life in Palestine. One's heart rejoiced upon entering the model farm of the German, Herr Reyrat, and “Zielanke” where twelve pioneers from all over Poland were training.

Salamea {Salome?} Binshteyn, the Shtsebraalshank landowner's wife (at that time an assimilated Jew, now a loyal citizen of Israel} and he would leave everything behind and join in your mission. But still we wanted one of our own in his place and we made a “revolution” and took over the management of the Jewish National Fund. Then it was no holds barred. The income doubled and tripled.

Many of these idealistic halutsim and their families became rooted in the soil of Palestine. Today, we find comrades Austern and Fridman in Kibbutz En Harod. Eliyahu Yoselevitsh in En Haoresh. Ovadia Yoselevitsh in Ramat Hakovesh. Zshenia Pigavska (or Figavska) in Ashdot Yaakov, and many more.

[Col. 401]

Call to the Community to Celebrate Balfour Declaration Day[1] Happy are we that we have lived to see the day

Jews!

The day is coming for which we have been waiting for almost 2000 years. The Land of Israel has been recognized by the Peace Commission as the National Home of the Jewish People. Jews! 1850 years have passed since our freedom was cruelly taken from us. We were expelled to become wanderers, dispersed and scattered among the nations.

In spite of all the trials and tribulations, and the suffering in the long and bitter exile, we did not cease to hope that the day of our redemption would come and the sun of freedom would shine upon us, and we would get back our old-new land.

It has fallen to our lot to be the last generation of exile and the first generation of redemption. Together with all of Polish Jewry, we shall celebrate on Lag B'Omer[2], the great day on which our prayers will be answered, and we call upon all the Jews of our city to celebrate this great holiday of our people's redemption.

Greatly praised the work of our halutsim in training on her property.

The owner of Moskevshtsizn, the kind-hearted Herr Kirsnianski, of blessed memory, was pleased with the work of our halutsim. He did everything he could to please us as well.

The landowners of Reshka and of the estates around Grayeve, Lomza, Augustow and others were also very interested in the training of our youth.

The young people of Suwalk and environs were inspired by a burning desire for renewal. A youngster who was able to hack and saw two meters of lumber in one day, for the first time in his life, was in seventh heaven. We were proud to open our own carpentry shop in the Old Age Home building where eight young halutsim trained.

[Col. 403]

Here, I wish to mention my late father, R'Hayim Dov, of blessed memory, who helped us get the building.

For those who were in charge, there were too few hours in the day. Reading lists of suggestions in one kibbutz, taking care of organizational matters in another kibbutz, organizing courses in Hebrew language; in the history of the labour movements in Palestine, in the geography of Palestine, etc., kept us very busy.

We did not stick to “Hehalutz” matters only. We also participated in the general work of the Zionist movement. We were especially active in working for the Jewish National Fund, and raised a lot of money. However, the local manager of the JNF was not one of us and we resented that because we did 80% of the work, so why should the manager be Berl Zeligzon; a representative of the General Zionists? Never mind that Berl Zeligzon was an outstanding young man who devoted heart and soul to the Jewish National Fund. You could walk into his little store when it was full of customers and say: “Berl, there's a wedding going on and I need a partner {for collecting}”.

On Lag B'Omer, at 10 a.m., there will be festive prayers offered up at the synagogue for the return of our land.

From 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., all Jewish shops will be closed.

Houses and balconies belonging to Jews should be decorated appropriately.

All day long, there will be a sale of flowers to benefit the “Redemption Fund”.

Suwalk, 17 Iyar, (5)680{1920}.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Hebrew on right and Yiddish on left with heading in Hebrew. Caption is erroneous. Balfour Declaration was Nov.2,1917. This proclamation refers to San Remo Peace Conference, April 25, 1920, where Great Britain was granted Mandate of Palestine. Return
  2. 33rd day of counting of Omer Return

 

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