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[Columns 109-110]

The History of the Zionist Movement
in Ternopil Before the First World War

In memory and honor of the academic Zionist association “Bar Kokhba” in Ternopil

By Dr. Ph. Korngruen

Translated by Moshe Kutten

The Zionist Movement in Ternopil was born, like in other Galitsia cities, a few years before Herzl, under the influence of the Russian association “Khibat Tzion” [“Affection for Zion”].

In the beginning, it was not a direct influence and it was not based on organizational relations. The miraculous word - “Zion”, floated in the air and awoke the yearnings, which were dormant for generations. It did influence the unaffiliated Jews who did not assimilate into the non-Jewish culture around them. The Zionist movement was established in Galitsia under the organization “A'havat Tzion” [“Love of Zion”]. A few years before Herzl it was formed as an organization under the leadership of Dr. Avraham Zaltz, and Dr. Z. Bromberg-Bitokovski. The center was in Terniv [Ternov], in Western Galitsia. A short time later, the organization established branches in Lviv and many provincial cities in Galitsia. The organization set a goal for itself to found a settlement for Galitsia Jews in Eretz Israel. The people of “Ahavat Tzion” began to recruit members and collect monies from them. A branch of “A'havat Tzion” was also established in Ternopil and its members paid two kreuzers monthly. A prominent figure, rabbinical judge R' Israel Parnas, headed the branch. The heyday lasted only about one to two years, thanks to one Aliya candidate from the Ternopil area who expressed his wish to settle in “Makhnayim”, in Eretz Israel. “Makhanayim” received a financial assistance from the Odesa [Zionist] committee. The name of Baron Edmond de Rothschild was also mentioned vaguely in connection with the place. The pioneer, named Pollak, made Aliya with his family and settle in Eretz Israel. However, he came back as he went. He was a simple man, a city dweller who was not physically able to work the land and lucked any attributes required for a pioneer. When he came back, the glamour and shine of the movement dimmed for a while. It took a few years for the case to be forgotten and for the people who opposed Zionism to stop using it as proof that the Galitsian Jews cannot be accustomed to working the land. The case succeeded to weaken the movement, and the “Khibat Tzion” in Galitsia never reached the level fitting the importance of Galitsia Jewry.

The Ternopil branch of “Ahavat Tzion” (initially located in one of the Batei Midrash), united later with the political Zionist Union. It concentrated around its youths who were on their way out of the Hassidic kloiz, towards enlightenment and assimilation. These youths constituted the initial crowd to whom the movement addressed its efforts and sent a group of intellectuals to talk to. Most of these intellectuals were university students who arrived at the Zionist view in their own original way. Even before Herzl, they acquired the Zionist views based on Jewish nationalism and the recognition that the Jews constituted, like all other nations, a separate ethnic entity. They recognized that as s separate national unit, they were entitled to live as an independent nation in their homeland with its people dispersed throughout the world. As a national unit, they have the right to develop a national religion, language, economic life, and culture. Among these pioneering activists, we should mention the names of Adolf Stand, Shlomo Shiller, the two brothers Korkis, Gershon Tzipper, Markus Braude, and Dr. Yehoshua Tahun.

Herzl's appearance unified all of these scattered elements and formed them into the “Jewish-State-in-the-making”. Herzl's book “Medinat HaYehudim” [“The Jewish State”], left an enormous impression on the Ternopil youth. However, from [its publication] in 1895 till the First [Zionist] Congress [in 1897], no major event occurred under its influence. Nobody from Ternopil attended the First Zionist Congress. The Jewish intelligentsia was in the midst of a vigorous assimilation process, which was pretty advanced. The orthodox Jews [and the Hassidim] opposed the Zionist idea and the concept of a Jewish State. On the other side, the Jewish proletarians began drifting in the direction of socialism, which constituted also a type of assimilation then. But the name Herzl and the aspiration for an independent Jewish state were carried in the air, fired up the imagination, and conquered the minds. Herzl introduced the positive element into the debate about the future of the Jewish nation that intensified with the Dreyfus Court Martial. That element meant the categorial demand for a solution to the Jewish question by establishing an independent state for the Jewish

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In Ternopil, the academic Zionist association “Bar Kokhba”, formed in 1902, took it on itself to fulfill the idea of Herzl. As a matter of fact, the association was formed without its formal name in 1897, the same year of the First Zionist Congress. It was born as a club of the students of the local high schools, like the old state Dominican gymnasium, the Re'ali school, and the Teachers seminary. The Polish name of the club was Kolko [“The Little Club”]. It was operated clandestinely and kept secret from the teachers and the authorities, which was then at the hand of the Poles.

The founding general assembly was held in a park belonging to the Ternopil Catholic church but was opened for the public. On sabbaths, Jews used to In Ternopil, the academic Zionist association “Bar Kokhba”, formed in 1902, took it on itself to fulfill the idea of Herzl. As a matter of fact, the association was formed without its formal name in 1897, the same year of the First Zionist Congress. It was born as a club of the students of the local high schools, like the old state Dominican gymnasium, the Re'ali school, and the teacher seminary. The Polish name of the club was “Kolko” [“The Little Club”]. It operated clandestinely and was kept secret from the teachers and the Polish authorities.

The founding general assembly was held in a park belonging to the Ternopil Catholic church but was opened for the public. On sabbaths, Jews used to sit there dressed with home clothing and slippers, and the park was therefore called - “Der Pantoffeln-Garten” (“The Slippers' Garden”). The “official” name of the garden was “Die Geistlichen Garten” (The Priests' Garden). It did not have a Polish name. About twenty youths of ages 18 – 20 gathered there in one of the afternoons, at the end of July or beginning of August 1902. They occupied just a few benches in the corners. Some were standing, and some others were sitting on the grass. The “old” man in the bunch, Avraham Pomeranz, stood or sat in the center. He was about twenty-four years old because he was late to graduate from his studies at the gymnasium of Berezhany. He did finally graduate along with the youngsters among us, who had just graduated. There were three layers in the group: The “elders” who graduated two years before (1900), the “middle” ones who graduated in 1901, and the “youngsters” (“Frish Gebakeneh Akademiker” [Yiddish for “Fresh Baked Academics”]), the graduates from 1902. Everybody in the group, without any exception, came out of the “Student Club” (“Kolko Stdudenekie”), namely “The Club of the Zionist Gymnasium Students”. The club was founded by Avraham Pomeranz, Wolf Beltukh, Izidor Tzin, Israel Waldman, and Nathan Nussbaum in 1897, immediately following the First Zionist Congress in Basel. Students who joined that club were the students who were accepted to the high school, most of whom were 14 – 15 years old. They were not accepted to the club easily because the club founder, Avraham Pomeranz, was conservative and cautious. He feared to take most of the students because they came from assimilating families. The source of the assimilation was the first modern Jewish school founded by Yosef Perl z”l. He used all sorts of subterfuges to get rid of these students. These students finally gave up, stopped attending the club, and formed their own Zionist youth club. Izidor then intervened and unified the “elders”, students of the seventh and the eighth-graders, with the younger fifth and the sixth graders. The club operated underground because of the fear of snitching by the assimilating students, the Polish patriots among them, and by students from earlier generations.

When I graduated from high school, I headed a youth organization that contained hundreds of members. It was organized in age groups and operated under exceptional discipline and enormous enthusiasm. In five years, we eradicated the assimilation tendencies, without any remnants, out of the studying youths and poured the foundation on which the Zionist life in Eastern Galitsia was founded. The members Waldman, Pomeranz, and Tzin were expelled from high school (received a Consilium Abeundi [Latin for “advised to leave”]). They were expelled due to their involvement in “politics” that went against the state (the Poles thought that anybody who opposed them was also against the Austrian state). However, that did not frighten us. We continue to assemble, read Zionist literature, and newspapers. We debated, studied Hebrew and Jewish history, listened to lectures, and gave other lectures. The central circle gathered every Saturday afternoon at one of the halls of Perl's school (from all places), under the disguise of an “advanced studies class”.

In 1900, the founders went to the university. However, their number was too scant for founding an association. In 1901, some additional members joined, however, the activists among them, went to the technical university in Lviv under the direct influence of Herzl's book “Altneiland” [“The Old New Land”]. In the book, Herzl relayed the vision of a Jewish state built by technical progress. A new state would require engineers, surveyors, chemists, and architects. Only in 1902, a sufficient number of members collected and dared to fulfill our dream of establishing the “Bar Kokhba” association. The following people participated in the founding gathering: Avraham Pomeranz, Nathan Nussbaum, Yosef Reikhman, Mark Reikhman, Israel Waldman, Mark Zlateks, Philip Korngruen, Aba Auerbach, Leon Horvitz, Yehuda Friedman, Ya'akov, Retzenstein, Henryk Regenbogen, Albin Mueller, Izik Nusboim, Shabtai Fogel, Zusia Dizenfeld, Avraham Gruenberg, Ya'akov Likchtigfeld, David (Dzionio) Katz, Kaminker- Wachman, Wilhelm Landau, Bernard Winkler, and Avraham Sas. We should also add the following members who could not participate for various reasons: Wolf Beltukh, Karol Unter, Alexander Rapoport, Izidor Tzin, and Zigmont Broiner. By mentioning them, we save these young people's names from oblivion. In 1902, they were all considered “veterans Zionist activists” from the days of the First Zionist Congress, or even two years before that. We were all the disciples of Theodor Herzl, who swore allegiance to the flag of the Jewish state in Eretz Israel. Indeed, we were “political Zionists” in the spirit of our great leader - Herzl's books -“Der Judenstaat” [“The Jewish State”] and “Altneuland”. We were enthused not by words or speeches. We were imbued with a great vision to devote our lives to the international Zionist Movement. We desired to conquer the hearts of our people for our homeland and conquer our homeland for the people. We considered our people the unique historical, ethnic, religious, and cultural unit that it was. We aimed to return to the ancient and beautiful Jewry. We aspired to develop all the national forces and march the people of Israel toward independence in its country as equal members of the new nations. Since there was no university in Ternopil, we had to name our association: “The Jewish Youth Association Bar Kokhba'”. However, from our by-laws, it was clear that we were not similar to other associations.

Paragraph number 3 of the by-laws reads:

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ter113.JPG
The Founders of the Academic Zionist Association “Bar-Kokhba” in Ternopil (1902)

Sitting: First Row - Israel Waldman, F. Ziltz, M. Zlateks, Mark Reitman, Razenstein
Second Row: Yehuda Freidman, Leon Horvitz, Abraham Pomeranz, I. Nusbaum, Aba Auerbach, Ph. Korengruen
Standing: First Row – D. Katz, Yacob Lichtigfeld, Abraham Gruenberg, Z. Wiesenfeld, Fogel, Isaac Nussbaum, Albin Mueller Henryk Regenbogen
Second Row – Abraham Sas, Bernhard Winkler, Wilhelm Kaminker-Wachman

 

“The association's goal, which does not have any local political aspiration, are as follows: multi-facets development of all spiritual and physical energies of its members, cultivation of the knowledge of literature, Jewish history, and the Hebrew language, and development of the social lives”.

Paragraph 4 reads as follows: “To achieve our goals, we will operate to - a) Establish a library b) Conduct recitation, lectures, and debates about general sciences, and particularly about literature and Jewish history c) Conduct lessons of the Hebrew language for all members d) Learn gymnastic and fencing by all members e) Arrange meetings, games, and social parties”.

That modest program was a framework by which we could introduce the entire Zionist program without colliding with the government, which had already begun to look at our activity suspiciously. Galitsian Poles were not interested in having Jews with national aspirations, possessing Hebraic and Yiddish culture amongst them. They especially resented proud Jews, standing tall, self-respecting with the power to defend their civil and national rights in the Austrian state.

In fact, we created a complete academic Zionist corporation in all of its fine details. In choosing the name of the last hero of the State of Israel - Bar Kokhba, we meant to emphasize the emotional connection between the end of our independence in our land and the beginning of our strive to free independent lives in our ancient homeland. We made ourselves available to Herzl and the Galitsian Zionist Movement, without any doubts or hesitations. We accepted, with love, anything that was required of us: propaganda work, publicity, and later on, political activity, organization of general and Jewish cultural events, or just a mundane work of collection of donations, guarding and ushering at Zionist gatherings, distribution of announcements and newspapers, participation in a fight for defending the honor of Israel in duels or just a brawl. “Bar Kokhba” association members did all of that in a spirit of total volunteerism and complete discipline. There were never such occurrences when members avoided fulfilling any role, even the very difficult ones.

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The members of “Bar Kokhba” were always in the locations there were requested to be in - ready for action. At the same time, they were elegant, polite, social, helpful, and friendly. They generated respect for themselves, the nation of Israel, and particularly for their association. We wore a blue and white ribbon (the Zionist symbol), and green – which was the symbol of the academic association for the days of vacation (Ferial Verbindung). Its edges were golden to state that our association does not shy away from a battle. Fencing played a major role in the lives of the Austrian universities. At the university in Vienna and the Technion in Lviv, we needed, more than once, to protect, by force, the honor of the Jewish student against the antisemitic Germans and the “National Democratic” Poles. The very existence of organized groups who were capable to respond, not only with convincing explanations in debates but also by hand and sword, carried a positive effect and lifted the level of appreciation for the Jews in the eyes of the non-Jews. Every one of our “brothers” wore a symbol on his lapel – a small porcelain armor with the acronym of the words “Vivat, Floreat, Crescat” [Latin for “Live, Grow, and Flourish”.

 

ter115.JPG
The Seal of the “Bar Kokhba” Organization
[The Hebrew words around the seal:
“The Association of the Academic Zionists “Bar Kokhba” in Ternopil”]

 

Our steering committee (“The Convent”) met at least once a week and in some urgent cases, even more often. The topics discussed in the meetings were: a) Current events in the world and the Jewish world b) local issues, such as Daily Zionist activities; Establishment of Zionist organizations and associations in Ternopil and in 20 towns that belonged to the Ternopil “District Committee”; Establishment of Youth organizations and gymnastic associations for men, women, and children; Establishment and support for Jewish school; c) Organization od lectures balls, and parties at the public and private parks.

The “steering committee” determined the direction of our activities. They would select a member or a few members to execute a specific mission. We did not insist that all the activities were carried out under our name - “Bar Kokhba”. We were satisfied with the results provided that the activity would take place with the active participation of our members who devoted their time, efforts, and skills. The Zionist activities took place quietly and were executed efficiently by the association, who ensured that anybody who successfully organized a worthwhile event would be helped. Our influence was felt in the Jewish street. We controlled the entire learning youth and the youth who came from orthodox homes. Our predecessors were assimilators who distanced themselves from the Jewish lives,

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while we looked for a connection with them. A new phenomenon appeared – the pride of belonging to the Jewish nation. Our predecessors, the older physicians, and lawyers were ashamed of their Jewishness and they were afraid o admit it openly.

The first stage [of our activity] lasted only about two to three months. It involved administrative preparations, arranging an apartment, furniture, and other similar things. For a short while, we operated out of the house of our first fencing teacher, our comrade Ziltz. Later on, we moved our “shack” to the house of Rafael Grinshpan, on Train Street, where we rented a large room. The house contained two rooms. The other room was the owner's unused tavern. We did not disturb the owner, particularly since he was deaf. We moved our Hebraic, Yiddish, and general library to that room. Hundreds of books were borrowed by members and even non-members. We stayed in that apartment until 1914.

We strived to have every leader (“senior”), who served for a 6 months session, add his own new and unique activity to the regular activities of the association and the Zionist movement. The first leader – Avraham Pomerantz, organized a wonderful inauguration ball of our association in the Ternopil municipal meeting hall. It was the first time, the Jews dared to request the city council (consisting of only 1/3 Jews, the other 1/3 were Poles and 1/3 Ukrainians) to use the meeting hall. Avraham Pomerantz opened the gathering, which was also attended by non-Jewish city councilors. I gave the opening programmatic speech, which I wrote in consultation with the association members, and the honorary member Mrs. Roza Pomerantz, the sister of our first president. The Pomerantz family brought political Zionism to Ternopil. at the Pomerantz house, I read Herzl's book - “The Jewish State”, for the first time. Roza Pomerantz (who later married [Isaak] Meltzer), was a sharp, learned, and vigorous woman. She was the Chairwoman of the Ternopil “District Committee”, and the representative of the Central Committee in Lviv, headed by Adolf Stand. [In 1922 she became the first Jewish woman elected to the Sejm]. The Zionist movement was still at its beginning. There were already representatives of the movement in the provincial cities of the Ternopil's district, but everything was still in its infancy.

The first leader (“senior”) was Avraham Pomerantz. His vice (“co-senior”) was Israel Waldman. I served as the secretary. I was therefore tasked with the honor to give the programmatic speech. A year earlier, I organized the first gathering of the high school graduates from the entire Eastern Galitsia, which assembled in Ternopil in 1901. I managed the conference and authored the program (chapters from the protocol of that conference are published in this book – see page 143).

The second “senior” (from October 1902 – to April 1903) was Nathan Nussbaum. His project was the “Toynbee Hall” (a Jewish university for the masses).

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A ball took place every Saturday night and holidays, at the hall of the craftsmen association “Yad Kharutizim” [“Hand of the Diligent”]. Each ball included a scientific lecture, mostly on a Jewish subject, musical show, and recitation from Jewish literature in Yiddish, polish, or German. The cost of the ticket was kept law, just to cover the expenses. The turnout was so great that we had to arrange two shows in one evening, just after the first ball. The speeches were given twice and so were the musical performances and the recitation.

 

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Group of Students with their Instructor, Ph. Korngruen (1903)

 

About 1200 – 1400 visitors attended weekly the hall in “Yad Kharutzim”. That allowed us to establish the “university for the masses” where Jewish culture, science, philosophy, art, and literature were taught. Nussbaum invested a tremendous effort in managing that project. “Bar Kokhba's” members worked as ushers, cashiers, and pasters of posters. Only in the winter of 1903 - 4, we succeeded in renting a more spacious hall called “Armon” (Schloss-Castle), containing enough seats for the crowd that flocked to our balls. That cultural institution operated and progressed until the break of WW I. In addition to its cultural value, the event served as a colossal stage for Zionist propaganda.

The third “senior” was William Landau. During the election, the youngsters staged a mini-rebellion. They also wanted to be elected as “seniors”. That created some tension during the election (the first and the last time in “Bar Kokhba's” history). I was elected as the “vice-senior” at that election. A grand party, which took place in the city park, was etched and remained in my memory from that period. That was the first that the park was allocated to a private organization to hold a celebration. The revenues from that celebration were all devoted to charity and for the benefit of the Zionist fund. That celebration in the large city park turned into a tradition since then, like the “Toynbee Hall”. The second tradition was the “Maccabees Balls” (Makabäer-Abend) in the wintertime. It was incumbent upon us to have these balls as extraordinary celebrations. While during regular propaganda events, public lectures, and the like, local forces appeared, the custom was that in the “Maccabees balls” only “stars” participated. That included the speakers, musicians, and reciters. Speakers from Lviv, Vienna, and Krakow, such as Adolf Stand, Markus Braude, Dr. Leon Reich, and the like, appeared. So did singers from the opera in Lviv and famous actors from various theaters. it was considered a great privilege when a local speaker, such as Israel Waldman or Philip Korngruen, was allowed to deliver the introductory or closing speech. After each ball, everyone in town could hardly wait to see what other innovations can our association come up with next.

Yosef Rietman, one of the “elders”, served as a “senior” in the winter of 1903-04. His vice was Moshe Fisher from amongst the “youngsters”. The tension between the camps evaporated and never returned. Our activities at that period included: maintenance of the library, supervision of the “Young Students” youth movement, assisting in Zionist activities and propaganda throughout the district, the great “Maccabees Balls”, and “Toynbee Hall” event in front of a crowd of more than a thousand people. A new activity was added that winter – The “Representative Ball” of the “Bar Kokhba” academic association. That was an unforgettable experience. The preparations for that ball lasted for months. Any member who did not know how to dance was ordered by the “co-senior” to learn that skill, otherwise, they would have been severely reprimanded or even “kicked out” of the association. Before the ball, the “co-senior” inspected the members and anybody who was not properly dressed was sent home to correct anything amiss in their elegance. All of that effort was done for a purpose: so that none of the invited guests (such as the neighboring estate owners, their lessees, and assimilating physicians) would say that the Jewish students were bums who did not know how to dress or behave properly in an elegant company. The preparations for the ball, which included flower deliveries or drawing names of the dancers on small cards, became quite an experience in the life of the members. The “co-senior” would stand in the middle of the hall during the dance with a group of youths. He stood there just to make sure that none of the ladies was missing a “cavalier”. (The custom of coming as a pair and dancing with the same partner the whole night, did not exist at the time). He would signal the “reserves” with whom they should dance so that nobody could say they were bored at the ball of “Bar Kokhba”. The “out-of-this-world” organizers, Tzvi Regenbogen, Zigmont Broiner, and Moshe Fisher, organized the quadrille, mazur, and lancier dances. They rehearsed the dances in advance so that everything would work outright. It was an unforgettable experience that was etched in the memory of all participants.

A new Jewish society was emerging due to the Zionist activities. It was based on a profound change of values, and education for a self-recognition of self-worth as a Jewish person, with the head, held high.

Obviously, the romantic aspect was not lacking. People used to say that in Ternopil – “nad “Bar-Kokhba” rozbila sie bania milosci” (a bubble of love burst above “Bar-Kokhba”). That was a joyful gang, lively and vibrant, full of jokes and humor, healthy, beautiful, noisy, and adventurous at times, however, always impeccable in two areas: Zionism and “bar Kokhba”.

All of the [Zionist] movements in Galitsia were, basically, movements of students.

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The influence of “our doctor”, even if he had not yet graduated from high school, was a crucial impact on his family. It was especially true in Ternopil (perhaps also in Brody and before that Buchach). The large movements within the Galitsian Jewry in the 19th century were: enlightenment, assimilation, Hassidim, and in the end – Zionism. These movements were formed not only as a method, world view, and high philosophy (remember “Morei Nevokhai HaZman” [“Guide for the Perplexed of the Time”]), but they also became parties, supported by fighting figures: Perl, Erter, Lefin, Shmuel Yehuda Rapoport (SHIR), and Nakhman Kromkhel – all native or residents of Ternopil (in any case, they are all buried in its cemetery). The militant enlightenment could not have found more stubborn rivals as the Ternopil's Hassidim, rebbes, and rabbis. The assimilation movement was not as aggressive anywhere else, and Zionism did not penetrate the hearts of the masses as much as in Ternopil. There were almost no indifferent people in Ternopil. Regardless of who they were, they were committed with their heart and soul. They were like the climate in their city – hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Even the “National Democrats” Poles were zealous, and the Ukrainians – radicals. Ternopil people tended not to compromise in their public life either, and most of them were in the opposition. However, their opposition was also creative since people liked to act, and create tangible things. They hated hollow rhetoric more than anything else. When it came to speeches, the audiences in Ternopil were very “spoiled”. A speaker who wanted to have a listening audience had to speak on the matter using literary language. He also had to quote from ancient and modern scholars and spice his speech with fireworks of ideas and humor. Among the locals, only two figures managed to secure an affectionate audience – Israel Waldman and Philip Korngruen although, or because each had his own style.

During the period of Herzl's Zionist leadership, “Bar Kokhba” participated not only in the local Zionist activities, but also in the activities of the Zionist Union, which included all currents, classes, and views. However, “Bar Khokba” had its own view when it came to Zionism's fundamental historical, theoretical, and political issues. We considered Herzl as our leader. When it came to Herzl's leadership, there was not only an organizational discipline but also boundless and unconditional love, respect, and admiration. In the battle between Herzl and the Political Zionists on one side and the Practical Zionists on the other, we obviously supported Herzl, although, there were only a few who understood the reasons for that fight. We followed the notion that when it came to [Eretz Israel] settlement, Herzl was more practical than the “insignificant practical activities” [of the Practical Zionists]. The most Practical Zionist – Baron Rothchild, was a Political Zionist, just like Herzl. In Herzl's fight with [the author] Akhad Ha'am, we supported Herzl, unlike the people from Brody, under the influence of Khaim Tartakower, who supported Akhad Ha'am (although not against Herzl). The debate between the Political, Practical, and Cultural Zionism deepened our ideological Zionism and brought us to a more unified Synthetic Zionist thinking [the name Synthetic Zionism was given to the unified approach in the 10th Zionist Congress]. With that concept, politics, settlement in Eretz Israel, and the language and cultures were all included as a unified approach as parts of the “Jewish State in the making”. In the fight between the Democratic Faction in the [Zionist] Congress (that included Dr. Khaim Weitzman, Martin Buber, Berthold Feibel, George Halperin, Yitzkhak Gruenbaum, and Alfred Nusig) against Herzl, we supported the latter. We did not do much for the “Jewish Settlement Fund”, as we were still high school students. However, we became fond immediately of the KKL-JNF.

The standing of “Bar Kokhba” became stronger and stronger, not only in the city of Ternopil itself, but also in the district towns of Jezierzany, Zalozce, Zbarazh, Pidvolochysk, Mikulince, Terebovila, Kopychyntsi, Chortkiv, Tluste, Zalishchyky, Kozlov, Skala, and Husiatyn. It was also strengthened in the villages around these towns. Jews who lived in these villages were not just owners of taverns and shopkeepers, but they were also estate owners and lessees, agronomists, managers of the estate of Polish nobles, clerks, and experts in the brewery of liquor and beer. That was a fairly diversified and wealthy crowd. The Ternopil district committee, headed by Roza Pomerantz in 1901, managed the Zionist propaganda in the district towns and villages.

I headed the [Zionist committee in the] Ternopil district from 1902 to 1908. Dr. Israel Waldman[1], served in that position from 1908 to 1911, when all of the district committees were abolished. The management of the Zionist activities was transferred then to the Zionist Union Committee in Lviv and to the Central Galitsia [Zionist] Secretariat. Before 1912, every district committee (including the Ternopil district) sent two representatives, who were elected in the district assemblies, to participate in the Central Galitsia Secretariat. We always tried to send a representative to participate in the Secretariat. During the period between 1903 and 1911, three of our members participated: Waldman, who was elected as a member of Tz. K. [The Galitsian Zionist Central Committee], myself (Dr. Ph. Korngruen), and Moshe Fisher as representatives of the Ternopil district. From 1911 – to 1914, another member from the district was elected, and I continued to participate in the central committee in Lviv as the chairman of the Jewish schools in Galitsia and Bukovina. Therefore, three or four members from our association were part of the leadership team of the national Zionist Union in Galitsia. We, like all of the members of the Tz. K., were responsible for the politics of the national Zionist Union in Austria in general and in particular in Galitsia. We were tasked by work and the responsibility but also received the honor.

[Columns 121-122]

I brought the details in the introduction to explain our position in the hierarchy of the Zionist Union. The Union built itself as a vigorous organization able and willing to rule over all aspects of Jewish lives and the hegemony in the Jewish Street. The old patriarchally and liberal world, the world of dreams which all of us – the Zionists, but also the Poles, Ukrainians, and even the Socialists lived in, began to break apart. It broke apart faster than any of us expected. We faced a new historical reality and were forced to participate in it. The Russian volcano began to emit smoke and shake the earth. Then came the 1905 Russian Revolution. Its echoes reverberated throughout the entire world, mainly in the Austrian Empire, which embodied about 20 nations and languages. Like always, the revolution was accompanied by pogroms. When Landau was the “senior” or a short time before that, we received the news about the riots in Kishinev. The responses by the Jewish nation and the shock to the Kishinev pogrom were fiercer than the ones that came after later pogroms, including the Nazi Holocaust. Kishinev removed the facemask from the face of humanity and opened our eyes to see the abyss gaping at our feet. Kishinev's pogrom transformed our aspiration for auto-emancipation to seeking self-defense in the simplest sense of the word. It startled us and demonstrated the fast-approaching Holocaust. However, at the time, we could not foresee the magnitude and the fact that it would occur during the lifetime of the generation that witnessed and protested the riots in Kishinev. The only one who forecasted the Holocaust was Herzl. The prophet saw the destruction of the Russian, Polish, Galitsian, Romanian and Hungarian Jewry. The vision of that destruction did not leave him even for a moment. It pushed him to negotiate with [the Russians] Pleva and Vita, which brought him to St. Petersburg, risking his life. When Herzl realized that Eretz Israel could not serve as an immediate refuge for his nation, he began to negotiate with England about Uganda. Herzl believed then that Uganda could serve as a “night shelter” for the Nation of Israel on its way to its own state in Eretz Israel. Today it is pointless to argue who was right. Our history continued on its own path: we bereaved a third of our nation, but we acquired a state in our homeland. That was how fate maneuvered our ship.

“Bar Kokhba” position was clear. After Kishinev, we organized protest demonstrations in all the district towns. I was tasked with organizing the demonstrations. Waldman delivered the speech in Ternopil. I delivered speeches in towns of the district, such as Berezhany, based on the recommendation by the Tz. K., which did not have sufficient speakers to deliver speeches to all of Galitsia towns. Berezhany's Zionists turned to “Bar Kokhba” to send them Waldman or me since they needed a “veteran speaker” (“ein älterer Redner”). They claimed that many rabbis, lawyers, and physicians resided in the city and requested to have a “serious” speaker, [preferably] with a white-haired beard. That request came at the time when the eldest member of “Bar Kokhba”, Israel Waldman, was only 22 years old, and the other “old” speaker was twenty years old me.

When they saw me, they could not hide their awful disappointment. However, following the speech, which was etched in the memory of the people in Berezhany for many years to come, three thousand Jews burst into tears. The eagerness for self-defense engulfed the listeners and the organizers relented.

The Sixth [Zionist] Congress, named the “Uganda Congress” in Zionist history, despaired us. Strangely enough, despite our love for Herzl, and despite the understanding of his reasonings and his pure Zionist intentions, we all joined the opposition camp without any exception. Us, the Galitsians, and particularly, the people from Ternopil, and especially the members of “Bar Kokhba” were not under the influence of Ussishkin and the people of Kharkiv [Kharkov]. The opposite is true. We could not forgive them for the problems they cause Herzl for decades. It took years until we agreed to welcome Ussishkin, in his visit to Lviv, on the occasion of the first Eretz-Israeli exhibition (If I am not mistaken in 1912). However, for us, Zionism meant the existence of the Jewish nation. We could not come to terms with the existence of the Jewish nation in a location other than Eretz Israel. We were already a nation, and we heard about what Nordau expressed so nicely in one of the Congresses: “A nation can wait. It involves sorrow, but not shame”. In the state gathering in Lviv, we supported the proposal by Adolf Stand, among all the other alternatives: a) Herzl without Zion b) Zion without Herzl C) Uganda even with Herzl. We insisted on one requirement: Zion with Herzl. “Bar Kokhba” members advocated that requirement without any exception. We did not have even one pro territorialism [advocating an alternative to Eretz Israel] person, and we never participated in efforts of the followers of Zangwill and Nossig who were looking for homeland [other than Eretz Israel].

I was elected as a “senior” for the summer 1904 semester. In the meantime, the number of members grew, since every high school's matriculation exam brought a new cadre of new members. These new members were under supervision for several years in one of the gymnasium's or high schools' clubs. Their identity [as Zionists] was known to all, or at least to the schools' principals. We accepted people with an academic degree from the outside skeptically. Such a candidate had to go through a six-month trial period as a guest. He had to visit us at the “shack”, where we lived so that the members get the chance to get to know him. He had to study Jewish history and endear himself on the members since only two votes against him would be sufficient to derail his acceptance. The essence of our strength was grounded on our unity and our camaraderie among us.

During the summer semesters of 1903 (Landau and Korngruen served as “senior” and “co-senior” respectively), and 1904 (Korngruen and Izik Nussbaum), the following members were accepted: Feller, Werber, Yosef Tirkes, Ya'akov Tzin, Krohn, Bekkerman, Alexander Koenigsberg, Yitzkhak Shapiro, Emanuel Stein, Ze'ev (Wilhelm) Beigel, Moshe Fisher, as well as Meir Khartiner, who devoted a lot of effort to “Hebrew-tize” our members, and was always considered our friend.

[Columns 123-124]

We did not consider them “new members.” From among them, we selected committee members, secretaries, treasurers, and especially librarians for our expanding library. The trio - Bekerman – Sas - Koenigsberg served as the librarian for three years.

The 1904 summer semester was a little unique and, to a certain extent, it constituted a turn towards democratization. G-d forbid the change did not tarnish the “Bar Kokhba” association and its formal, close, noble, and academic character. It had to do more with the roles that the time and circumstances had presented us with. I was relieved from my work with students. I was too busy with propaganda work in the city and the district and management of the association. However, now I could hand over that holy mission to loyal [younger] hands. After me, the supervision role over the high school students was given to Ya'akov Tzin and Wilhelm Beigel, and later on, to Khaim Shmertling and Max Schleicher. Khaim and Max were still students when I served as the “senior”.

On Lag BaOmer [Jewish holiday], I said goodbye to my work with the Zionist education of the youth. All the members of the “clubs” (organized by their classes), walked to the forest near the village Gaia Vilieka [Velyki Hai?]. We all met and gathered there, about 300 members strong. I lectured about La Baomer being the holiday to commemorate Shimon bar Kokhba (in the meantime, my version about the holiday was scientifically verified over the years). We then returned to the city, group after group, like an army to defend the nation, and take over the homeland. At that time, it did not occur to me that some of these young men were destined to serve as members of the “Hagana” and Israel Defense Force and participate in our independence war.

Peculiar guests arrived at the hall of “Bar Kokhba” at that time. The pogroms in Russia, which occurred as a reaction against the revolutionary movement, resulted in the flight of people involved with workers' organizations and the revolution. There were Zionist activists among them, particularly socialistic Zionists, as well as Hebrew teachers from among the Russian intelligentsia. Our comrades from Skala, Husiatyn, Podwolocyska, and Zbarazh, towns near the borders, used their influence with the Austrian and Russian gendarmeries at the Russian-Austrian border to help the refugees “steal the border”. They knew our address. Their first visit on the Austrian side was to “Bar Kokhba” in Ternopil. We revived and strengthened them, and employed them as propagandists. There were good speakers among them, some excellent, and also Hebrew teachers. I remember a person named Yakobson – a speaker par excellence, who resided in Ternopil and made a living as a Zionist preacher. I also remember a person named Abramson, who served as the secretary of Ussishkin. The most important guest was a worker and organizer by the name of Tabachnik. He brought a new spirit with him and began organizing the local workers, apprentices of craftsmen, and stores' salesclerks, under the flag of “Poalei Tzion” [“Workers of Zion”]. The first workers' gatherings, which were organized by Tabachnik to join the Zionist movement, took place at the hall of the academic Zionist movement – “Bar Kokhba” in Ternopil.

Debates among us about Socialism and Zionism continued throughout the entire summer of 1904. A new group that wished to unify the two organizations emerged. The debate also moved to the streets, public gatherings, and coffee shops (e.g. the famous Dreifinger's dairy on Perl's Street). Khartiner, Yosef Sirkis, and his brother Moritz, debated with the members of the Galitsian “Bund”, the Z.P.S [“Jewish Socialistic Party”] and P.P.S. [Polish Socialist Party], neither without convincing the other side. However, the group of workers and the shops' clerks continued to grow. As mentioned, the initial gatherings aimed to explain the ideology of “Poalei Tzion” and the workers' meetings (to discuss the establishment of a brunch of “Poalei Tzion” in Ternopil - they already had a brunch in Vienna) were held at the apartment of the academic association “Bar Kokhba”. They were helped by and operated under the initiative of “Bar Kokhba's” “senior” that winter semester). In the winter of 1904, the group was strong enough to afford to rent their own apartment in the house of Gelman on Sobieski Street. They formally established a [brunch of the] association “Poalei Tzion”. The association just began to consolidate and seize its own standing within the Jewish Congress and the socialistic “International Workers' Federation”. The theoretical debate within our own association took the shape of a deep scientific review, and many members, including the “senior”, were caught on to the idea of uniting the two ideologies: Zionism and Socialism. A review and study of the socialistic literature, particularly the “Capital” by Karl Marks, was initiated. The ideology began to take roots in the Jewish street. We hadn't yet adopted that view, expressed by the proverb – “We are Zionists because we are socialistic”. The members of “Bar Kokhba only embraced it years later, under the influence of Daniel Pasmanik and Kaplansky. We were Zionists without any restraint. Zionism for us meant a Jewish State. It was clear to us that our state would be based on social justice - an example for the whole world. In our state, the Jewish wealth and the Jewish labor would cooperate, based on equal rights and obligations, and individual freedom. There would be no coercion or exploitation. There would be no slavery and no blood spilling. Sorting out the relationship between the Zionist ideology and socialism became an urgent and decisive factor in our war against assimilation. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, socialism became the last refuge and fortress of the previous intellectual generation of Galitsian Jews – the generation of assimilation. The Jewish intelligentsia found a treasure of fresh ideas in socialism, which were not available to their predecessors' assimilators (our parents' generation during 1850 – 1890). Our initial reaction was: “If socialism would unify all the nations in the world, abolish all the nationalities, and remove

[Columns 125-126]

all the divides between one person to another – what is the need for the nation of Israel, and what is the use for a unique State of Israel? Wouldn't it be better to join socialistic “Fourth Class”, who aspire to build a new world, thus bringing to an end the “Jewish Question” along with many other “questions'?“ Our feeling was that the ideology was nothing but disguised assimilation. Fixing the world should not require the disappearance of our ancient high-culture nation - the creator of the social ideas. The appearance of the “Bund” led to the establishment of the Jewish Z.P.S. - iZydowska Socjalistyczna [“Jewish Socialistic Party”], (1905). That constituted a weak response against the attraction by the P.P.S. [”Polish Socialistic Party”] and the most radical and dangerous threat to our national survival - the assimilation of the Jewish proletariat.

The fierce battle between Zionism and socialism began as early as [the beginning of] 1904. However, in the summer semester of 1904, it ceased for several months, since on July 4th, 1904, Herzl died. Our world darkened., and the beauty in our life vanished. The astonishing belief in the great leader died with him. The confidence and complacency that he would do whatever was necessary changed to a feeling of melancholy and grave responsibility for keeping his plan alive. Lives became gloomy, the glitter erased. We remained a force without a leader, crippled for at least several months. We devoted the time to gatherings of mourning and sobbing. The members of “Bar Kokhba” led by their “senior” cried like after the father of each one of them and the father of all of them. In Ternopil, Waldman spoke for the first time in the old synagogue. The orthodox people and the Hassidim did not dare resist the appearance of a shaved enlightened man standing by the Holy Ark. I visited all of the district towns. The crises dissipated slowly, and we got back to our work on implementing Herzl's plan and widening the membership of the Zionist Union.

In 1904, Zigmont Broiner, a zealous Zionist from a veteran assimilation family and the son of a teacher in Perl's school, was elected as the “senior”. A more peculiar event occurred when I was elected, by the first members of “Poalei Tzion” in Ternopil, as the chairman of their association. As a result, I became the Eastern Galitsia representative of the “Poalei Tzion” association.

According to our tradition, “senior” Zigmont Broiner added a new activity to our regular and routine activities. During Zigmont's reign, a calendar of the association was published. I managed to preserve a handwritten version of that calendar, copied for me by the members of “Bar Kokhba”. That copy survived World War I but was burnt during World War II. That was a small booklet, which included the civil and Jewish calendars. The calendar also contained a collection of articles: “Zionism” by Israel Waldman, “About Zion – Visions” by Meir Khartiner (translated from Hebrew by Yehuda Friedman), “Inventions and fabrications” by Philip Korngruen, “The Zionist Union” by Yehuda Friedman, and “Silvester of Emigrants” by Israel Waldman.

At the end of the calendar, a chronology representing the entire Jewish history of approximately 5000 years. The chronology listed milestones, considered important by Korngruen and Khartiner, from the point of view of the Jewish people and nation. That chronology got lost. I only remember the last three dates: 135 BC, the fall of “Beitar” [last standing stronghold of the Bar Kokhba revolt] and the death of Bar Kokhba, 1895 – the emergence of Theodor Herzl and his book “The Jewish State”, 1897 – the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Herzl – the president of the revived nation.

Israel Waldman was the 1905 summer semester's “senior”. His special project was the establishment of a Polish Zionist weekly newspaper named “Śłowo Żydowski” [“Jewish World”]. That newspaper was published continuously, under his editorial and management, until the break of the First World War. Obviously, the members of “Bar Kokhba” helped him, not only in writing articles, collecting news, and translating from Hebrew, German, and other languages but also in editing, distribution, shipping, collecting subscription fees, etc… The newspaper's administration was located in our apartment for many years. The newspaper acquired great importance as a mouthpiece for national Jewish politics. Our involvement in the newspaper grew by leaps and bounds under the management of Israel Waldman.

The second project initiated by Israel Waldman was the establishment of a society for athletics and physical culture named “Beitar” [Named after the last stronghold of Bar Kokhba's revolt]. Thanks to his connections with Ukrainian politicians, Israel Waldman got a permit to use a gym named “Bractwo Mieszcanńnskie”. He hired a Ukrainian gym instructor named Chubati. It is interesting to note that a similar institution, named “Dror” [“Freedom”], was established in Lviv by a “Bar Kokhba's” member, Izidor Tzin. The latter devoted his life to the physical education of the youth. He educated a whole generation of instructors, gymnasts, and athletes in Galitsia. Many of the students mase Aliya to Eretz Israel as physical education teachers, athletes, or mere pioneers and soldiers.

I do not recall who was elected as the “senior” for the winter semester of 1905 - 6. If I am not mistaken, it was Munyo (Imanuel) Stein. During that semester, a turning point in the direction of Labor-Zionism took place within the “Bar Kokhba” association itself. It was associated with the visit of Dr. Daniel Pasmanik. I do not remember whether Dr. Pasternak came to Ternopil before the “anti-Uganda” Zionist Congress in the summer of 1905 in Bazel, or after that historical congress. Meir Khartiner attended that congress as a correspondent of the Galitsian “HaTzfira” [“The Epoch”] magazine. Besides telegrams, If I am not mistaken, Meir sent letters from Galitsia to the monthly magazine “HaHed” [“The Echo”].

Khartiner and I participated in the Seventh Zionist Congress. Khartiner represented the magazine “HaTzfira”, Warsaw, and I, the youth newspapers “Moria”, Lviv, and other magazines.

[Columns 127-128]

ter127.JPG
The Visit to Ternopil by Dr. Daniel Pasmanik, Honorary Member of the Organization

From Left to right – sitting: First Row – A. Beigel, Landau, M. Khartiner, Brauner
Second Row - Fisher, J. Nussbaum, D. Stein, Dr. Daniel Pasmanik, Pomerantz, Korngruen, J. Waldman
Standing: First Row – Horvitz, Shapiro, Sas, Gruenberg, Mueller, Koenigsberg, Beckerman, Friedamn
Second Row – Kron, Jacob Zin, Joseph Sirkes, Werber, Feler, Rapaport

 

“Bar Kokhba” association did not send representatives to the Zionist Congress for two reasons: First - because none of us was old enough to be eligible, and second - because we did not have enough money for the trip. Traveling on public or Union funds was not customary at the time. I covered my own travel expenses. When I returned to Ternopil, I submitted a detailed report to our steering committee (convent) headed by Israel Waldman.

Dr. Daniel Pasemnik visited Ternopil on behalf of the “Poalei Tzion” union in the winter of 1905-06. He conducted two lectures about the relationship between Zionism and Socialism described from the point of view of the Jewish proletariat. The “Bar Kokhba” association organized the lectures, and both turned into a sensation. Dr. Daniel Pasemnik brought up the theory that the Jewish proletariat would not be able to integrate into the natural and essential proletarianization process. He laid down proof that when the industry covert from handwork to machine work, people would expel the Jews from the factories, and the local proletariat would replace them. He claimed that the Jewish proletariat would find itself on the outside in the final war between labor and wealth, unless it would acquire a homeland for itself, where it could become the local proletariat. The picture pained by Dr. Pasemnik was horrific. The Jewish wealth in the diaspora would be nationalized by the local proletariat (i.e. - Russian, Polish, English, or German proletariats) and the Jewish proletariat would find itself alone with no wealth of its own unless it would establish the relation between wealth and labor in its own state. For our Jewish proletariat, the war between wealth and labor would only be valid in our own state, where a national framework for creating its own modern Hebrew culture would be developed. That theory seemed to us at the time, as a great discovery, we waited for, for a long time. It proved that the host nations would confiscate Jewish wealth and expel the Jewish workers. Jews would find themselves again outside of society's framework. Thus, whatever happened to the Jews at the end of the feudalistic period, would also happen to them during the socialistic revolution. The only conclusion was that even for the Jewish proletariat, the only way for survival was the “Jewish State”.

The academic association “Bar Kokhba” published Dr. Daniel Pasemnik's two lectures and nominated him as an honorary member.

[Columns 129-130]

All that is left from that entire fascinating episode is the description presented on these pages. The torrent of history flooded those fascinating days during which endless dreams were woven.

The flirtation between “Bar Kokhba” people and the Zionist Workers' Organization [that was how the name “Poalei Tzion” was interpreted), lasted about two years. Whatever happened there, is not part of “Bar Kokhba's” history. It belongs to the history of the “HaNoar HaOved” movement and the leftist parties. The German poet expressed what can be said about that:

Leicht bei einander leben die Gedanken Doch eng im Raume stossen sich die Sachen

[“Thoughts live easily together but things bump into each other in a crowded space”]

“Poalei Tzion” party demanded that its members with academic education leave the Zionist Union and join the International Jewish Socialist Workers' Party. We found ourselves at a crossroad, and we refused to leave “Bar Kokhba”, renounce our aspiration, and dilute the Jewish character of the party, although the party assured us that it would encompass the entire nation [in the future]. The roads of the Zionist intelligentsia and the Zionist workers separated. They had not found a common ground until today.

In the meantime, things advanced very quickly in Galitsian Zionist politics. A new question emerged: “Should the Zionists participate as Zionists in the battle for the Jewish National rights in the diaspora, or should a new party be formed for that purpose? Perhaps the whole issue is not of any interest to the Zionists. Perhaps each member should be free to choose their own political position as a Galitsian, Austrian, Czech, or Polish Jew?” That question was a subject of fierce debate within the Zionist movement. Until 1906, the question was just a subject for a theoretical debate, albite fierce. Other issues of more political importance were on the agenda – problems with a real urgent value. First, there was the issue of Herzl's attitude towards state politics. Today, 50 years later, we understand his position. There is no doubt that the initial call for the Zionists to take over the Jewish communities came from Herzl. There are no doubts about that part of the [Zionist] politics. People claimed that his intention was not directed at Terebovlia and Kopychyntsi, and not even the city of Ternopil. It was directed at the five largest communities, which were authorized to vote for the directorate of the J.C.A. [“The Jewish Colonization Association”]. The directorate controlled the multi-million dollar estate of Baron de Hirsch. If I am not mistaken, the communities were - Vienna, Paris, London, Frankfurt (or Budapest), and Brussels (or Amsterdam). However, the call was worded generally. It was clear that by taking over the communities, the Zionists would control Judaism and the Jewish financial institutions. Internally they would be able to impose taxes to benefit the Zionist ideology of “the Return to Zion”. They would also be able to represent Eretz Israel's Judaism externally. For the same reason, Herzl supported having Zionist representatives in the parliaments of each country, or at least one Zionist representative in each parliament. Herzl's view was that even a single representative could serve as a speaker of the movement towards the world and the ruling classes of these countries. However, it is doubtful that Herzl advocated participation in the local political battles and the use of the Zionist factions in the parliaments for the day-to-day needs of the Jewish masses in the diaspora. He also did not advocate the establishment of Jewish curia's [blocks of voters with certain characteristics], or the founding of Yiddish schools, which could be considered as elements of autonomy. That would have led inadvertently to resistance by the governments that Herzl needed their help to realize his unique [Zion] plan.

Herzl had only one criterion – whatever advanced us towards the goal of a Jewish State was good and had to be done. Whatever distanced us from achieving that objective was not good, and we had to avoid doing it. Today, it is difficult to know how Herzl would have reacted when, due to the historical development, the debate ceased to be theoretical and when reality forced us to act.

The other important issue was the contrasts between the Austrian Jews and the Galitsian Jews. In the 19th century, Viennese Jews held the hegemony, and the Jewish representatives to the Austrian parliament came from them. However, at the end of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th century, the centers of mass, of both the Zionists and the assimilators, moved to Lviv, Galitsia. The prominent leaders and the representatives of the assimilators were Dr. Emil Bik and Shmuel (Shmelkeh) di Horowitz. The leaders of the Zionists were the members of the Central Zionist Committee who published the weekly “Voskhud” [“The East”] and “Pshishlashtesh” (“The Future”). They were mainly - Dr. Max Braude, Gershon Zipper (who returned to political work after seven-year hiatus), and Adolf Stand. The assimilators gang was supported by the Galitsian Polish government. They made a fortune from the franchises awarded to them by the Poles as a reward for bringing Jewish votes during the election. The Zionist youth supported the Tz. K. [Galitsian Zionist Central Committee]. That gang kept a “quid pro quo” relations with the Jewish community leaders in the provincial towns who supplied the votes in exchange for money, permits, and franchises. The central Committee relied on the academic youth organizations and Zionist associations established throughout Galitsia under various names. With that situation, the community leaders did not face any danger from the old generation, which maintained a strange coalition with the semi-apostates on one side and the rebbes and their Hasidim on the other. The election law was based on the principle of curia's (such as universities, chambers of commerce, age cohorts, and people who pay high taxes). Therefore, the number of eligible voters was limited and since voting was not done secretly, voters were subjected to all means of influence, cooptation, and pressure. Adding another curia would not change the situation much since the number of that additional votes would be limited.

[Columns 131-132]

Any attempt to widen the voting rights encountered resistance from many sides. Those with the interests and privileges protected their political standing against election majorization. All the small minorities, such as the Western Ukrainians and the Ruthenians, feared it. The Poles resisted the widening of voting rights because it could have made them a powerless minority, losing their position as the ruling class.

The situation of the Galitsian Jews, who resided there in masses, was more complicated. It was the logical and inevitable result of the objective conditions that prevailed there. Galitsia, a substantial part of Poland, which fell to Austrian hands during the partitions of Poland in the 18th century, was populated by three nations: More than three million Poles, about the same numbers of Western Ukrainians (Ruthenian), most of them Catholics (Unitarians), and close to a million Jews. The Poles were the rulers, by tradition and customs developed over hundreds of years. The Poles were the intelligentsia, and they owned the fields, forests, and big estates. They developed mutual support relations with the Habsburgs. The Poles, along with the Germans from the western part of the monarchy, served as the pillars for the ruling dynasty and the entire Austrian government. For their support, “Vienna” let them rule in Galitsia, as in their own Polish territory. The Ukrainians also advanced, with the help of “Vienna”, for self-explanatory reasons. According to the Polish theory, the Poles constituted, “along with the Jews”, the majority in Galitsia. The concept of “Poles of Moses religion”, did not have any basis in real life. In actuality, the Poles' attitude toward the Jews could be summarized as follows: a) The Jews are not members of a separate nation like other nations in the Austrian empire, since they do not have their own language or a national school. They also do not constitute a separate economic unit (like the Slovenians). They are considered as “Poles” when they are useful in promoting the Poles and Polish rights in Galitsia. However, b) The Jews are not “Poles”, since they are foreign (they have a different religion), insofar as their own rights. c) The Jews must support the Polish interests. They must vote for Poles in the parliamentary election and support any quota favoring the Poles. d) The Poles, are not obligated to give anything back to the Jews, as a group.

At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, the hegemony transferred or began to transfer from the nobles, the owners of the large estates, who were linked to the Jews via business connections, and dependent on Jewish capital, to the National Democrats (N. D. Narodowa Demokracja) – consisting of the urban intelligentsia and the middle-class farmers – the two natural competitors of the Jews. The “National Democrats” strove to take over commerce, industry, craftsmanship, brokerage, peddling, Inn ownership, and in general, any influence on finances and economy, from the hands of the Jews and also take over any control of Science, the arts, and journalism. A tragic situation emerged: The Jews were humiliated to the level of second-class citizens, and the Jewish nation was perceived as a religious cult. As a result, Jewish immigration to America reached humongous dimensions. Whole towns began to empty out of their Jews, who first moved to the provincial cities and from there to the capital city of Lviv. The Jewish leaders of that period, such as Dr. Emil Bik, Shmelka di Horowitz, Dr. Lowenstein, and Dr, Kolisher from Lviv, came to terms with that situation. They accepted the role of representing the Galitsian Jews as “Poles of Moses religion”. They handed over the Jewish votes in all the elections to the central Galitsian government, and in return, receive for themselves, and their supporters, all the rights, privileges, and jobs… Similar characters in the provincial cities and small towns like Gal in Ternopil, Roikh in Stanisławów [now Ivano-Frankivsk), Dr. Guld in Zolochiv, and Pirstein in Drohobych, the suppliers of the “Polish Orientation Seal” in the provincial cities -the community leaders, powerful, and wealthy, who came and went into the offices of district governors, and other government offices. They helped individuals, once and a while, mainly their relatives, and tripped their rivals. They were always surrounded by political gangsters and thugs. The latter received their wages in cash or other money-worth compensation (such as flour from the mill of M. Gal in Ternopil, cart-full wood, or potatoes). The right to vote reform awarded to the masses could directly harm the position of the old leaders, who served as arbitrators between the Polish governors and the Jewish masses. It could have undermined the power position of the aggressive community leaders who had total control over the communities. The Jewish intelligentsia was in favor of widening the voting rights for the same reasons it was rejected by the community leaders. All the Jewish parties - the Zionists, Z. P. S (the Galitsian “Bund”), and the Jewish faction of the P. P. S., met at that same point. The Social-Democrats organized large gatherings, in which “Poalei Tzion” participated for the first time. “Poaleit Zion” requested that in addition to the four dimensions of the general right-to-vote (general, equal, direct, and secret elections), on adding a fifth dimension -“proportionality”. That principle would ensure that small nations would not fall victim to the ruling nations. Initially, the rest of the parties were angry at “Poalei Tzion” because they violated the workers' unity by bringing up an additional request. However, when the Viennese government, to everybody's surprise, announced in response to the demonstrations (in the confidential support of the Poalei Tzion” centerral headquarter in Vienna}, that it intends to enact a five-dimensional election law, “Poalei Tzion” acquired the name of experienced politicians because they were the only ones that foresaw the future.

[Columns 133-134]

ter133.JPG
 

United Supporters of Zion Kozlov

To be held on Sunday, December 1906

In Baron Hirsch's School

A Solemn

Maccabi evening

With subsequent participation:
1) Greetings by Shlomo Zeife 6) Solo Singing by Shlomo Zeife
2) Solo Singing by Y. Sirkes 7) Monologue by Friedman
3) Recitation 8) Brothers Wolfstall's Orchestra
4) Brothers Wolfstall's Orchestra 9) Recitation by M. Sirkes
5) Keynote Speech – by Philp Kornguen 10) Conclusion

A Single-Act Mystery-Comedy
By Shalom Aleichem


Prices for the first or second shows

Front section – 60 Hlr., Back section – 20 Hlr., Gallery – 60 Hlr.

Starts at 7 pm.


Poster of the Macabbi Party in Kozliv [formally Kozlov] The Speaker: Philip Korngruen.

 

However, in 1905 -6, it was still far from the active participation in the election of the “Poalei Tzion” faction in “Bar Kohkba”, since the new law was approved in the parliament only in 1907. The first election based on that law was held only in the summer of 1907. The debates about whether the Zionists should participate in the election continued endlessly. The debates took place in our gatherings, meetings, and conferences. Who knows whether we would have been able to bring about the revolution that we have caused if not for a faithful event? That event resulted in the cessation of the quarrels and pushed us to jump into the torrent water of national politics.

At the beginning of 1906, Dr. Emil Bik, the leader of the assimilators and a proponent of the subjugation to the Poles, died.

[Columns 135-136]

He was an honest man with a Jewish heart. However, as an apprentice of the enlightenment period, which took the form of half-Germen, half-Polish assimilation, he did not understand that the Jews could be grouped as a unique ethnic unit in Austria, like other nations in the Austrian Empire. Bik was a representative in the Austrian parliament from the Zolokhiv, or if I am not mistaken, the Zolochiv-Brody region. He kept one of the “Jewish mandates” – meaning one of the mandates reserved by the Polish governors for “their Jews” (as the Jews constituted a majority in those two cities). With the death of Dr. Emil Bik, another Jewish representative, who would agree to the “Votes for Poland” arrangement, had to be elected. The government initially thought of nominating Dr. Kolisher as its candidate. He was a prominent, honest, learned, and economics expert. He called for a gathering in Brody, in which he intended to explain his listeners - his platform. However, Zionists, headed by the Tratokover brothers, members of a local prominent and honorable Zionist family, showed up at the same gatherings. Among the Zionists, Dr. Gershon Zipper, then a lawyer from Lviv, also participated. Together, they debated and “destroyed” Kolisher, who panicked and ran away from the debate. The government was forced to select another local aggressive [assimilator] who would not be easily frightened. It fell to Dr. Guld, the head of the community and mayor of Zolochiv, to take the place of Dr. Bik

The gathering in Brody caused a stir within the Galitsian Judaism. It was the first time Zionism and assimilation faced each other in a political battle. It seemed that the Jewish masses considered the Zionists as their natural leaders, not only in affairs related to Zionism but also in all other questions on the agenda of the Jewish world. A new phrase was coined, which was expressed by one German word: “Gegenvortarbeit” [“Present Work” – or “culture work” as opposed to “real work” in Eretz Israel]. The concept of “Tzionistishe Landespolitic” [“National Zionist Politics”] was coined several years later.

Two Zionist figures urged us to participate in the election, even before the new law was enacted: the first, Dr. Markus Braude, a vigorous man with organization, initiative, and quick decision skills, and the second, Dr. Gerson Zipper, one of the first Zionists who was silent for approximately six years, and reappeared like a meteor. The latter captured the leadership steering wheel of the Zionist Union away from the sensitive and delicate Stand. Under the pressure of these two Zionist figures and some local Zionists, the Zionists nominated a candidate, opposing the assimilators, in almost every city. In the Zolochiv-Brody region, they nominated Adolf Stand as their candidate. The battle between the Zionists and the assimilators on the right to represent the Jewish nation towards the non-Jewish world began. Even though there were no real chances for a Zionist to win, there were several reasons for nominating Adolf Stand as a candidate in Zolochiv, as early as 1906, took place for the following reasons: a) To prove to the Jews and non-Jews in Galitsia that we, the Zionists, receive authority and a permit from the Galitsian Jewry to protect its interests, and by doing that, present to the world our political visit card. b) To organize our party in all the cities, towards a new goal. c) To establish an apparatus capable of running a campaign, acquire experience in disseminating propaganda, something we were not used to doing, and draw out the national Zionist ideology from the halls of our union to the street. We also wanted to learn the tactics of our rivals. The 1906 election was like a dress rehearsal for what we faced in 1907.

The people of “Bar Kokhba” participated in that first battle along with the Zionist intelligentsia from Lviv and Eastern Galitsia. Waldman, Korngruen, Khartiner, Sirkes and others were sent to Zolochiv. Their mission was to stay in Zolochiv until the end of the election, give speeches publicly, acquire voters “house to house” (in Yiddish “Fon man tsu man” [from one man to the other], and mainly to learn the ploys of the rivals we would meet when the real battle comes. We stayed in Zolochiv and worked day and night. Our Lviv friends from the organization “Emuna” [“Faith”] worked along with us. The work was tiring and not without risks. Once and a while, one of us got arrested and sent to jail. The gendarmes interrupted our gatherings and disallowed them for all sorts of strange excuses such as – the houses where the parliament representative, Shtoikher from Czernowitz, or Ernest Breiter, were slated to give a speech at, was about to collapse and other similar excuses. Obviously, corruption represented by the local patriots and the Polish terror won at the end. However, we won the hearts in the Jewish street. As early as 1906, people began to use the phrase - “Stand hat zikh di shtimung, and Guld – di shtimen” (“The sympathy to Stand, the votes to Guld). The war began, and the new election law brought about the conditions for it.

In 1907, the election for the Austrian parliament in Galitsia was held under the new election constitution. However, the request to institute proportional election based on ethnic groups failed. Also, the Jews were not considered as a separate ethnic group in the 1907 election. Obviously, the dreams about a national Jewish curia (and for that matter any national curia's), did not materialize. We, the Zionists, requested that but it was clear that the Galitsian Poles would never agree to that, and without the support of the Poles in the parliament, it was impossible to pass any reform in the election law. It was also clear that the Poles were supported by the Jewish assimilators and the religiously orthodox people who understood that their influence and their political and economic standing would break down if the election would be held under the framework of a national curia's. They understood that the people would expel them, and the Austrian-Polish administration in Galitsia, with all its deceitful and hypocritical ways, would not save them.

[Columns 137-138]

Instead of the proportional election and the Jewish curia, the authorities created election districts deliberately intending to minimize the number of districts where a Jewish candidate had to be elected (for reasons of fairness, and the non-Polish world). That was a clear attempt to prevent the Jews from voting for a candidate they wanted to vote for instead of a candidate the Poles wanted. For that purpose, they divided the Jewish district of Zolochiv-Brody and added three small non-Jewish towns and several Polish villages to all the Jewish cities like Brody. Despite all the ploys, terror, and corruption by the authorities, and despite knowing that we were facing a difficult and risky campaign, we decided to participate in the election, with all of our energy. At the time, We did not think about mandates for the parliament, politics, or economy. None of us thought about our own personal status or personal benefit. We just came out enthusiastically to fight a holy war, exalt the horn of the Jewish nation, and bring about its national and cultural rights.

Mainly, we had one objective - To eradicate evil from among us - eradicate these sleazy characters, which took over the Jewish street, exploited the nation, and degraded its flag. In 1907, a holy war between Zionism and assimilation for the survival of the Jewish nation and its dignity erupted.

Obviously, the people of “Bar Kokhba” bore the campaign burden and work on their shoulders in the Ternopil's sector. The most prominent figure, the fighter on the front line, was Israel Waldman. At the time, (if I am not mistaken), he had already received a Doctor of Law degree. He was an outstanding speaker, daring and vigorous. Prominent figures and friends brought to Ternopil from all over Galitsia helped him in handling the propaganda. A month before the election, all of the association's members, who resided outside of Ternopil in near or far cities, received recruitment orders. We asked them to leave their offices and jobs, come to Ternopil, and stay there until the end of the election. None of them refused to obey the order, even if it meant losing one's job and livelihood. Nobody refused to work on the campaign or did not complete all the missions he was tasked with, even if they were dangerous or unpleasant. “Bar Kokhba” people were tasked with the propaganda work - a) In almost half of Eastern Galitsia outside of the Ternopil district b) In the city of Ternopil itself, where the Zionist candidate, Adolf Stand, ran against the assimilator, Gal. c) In the provincial cities around Ternopil that belonged to other districts, where our candidate Mahler, ran an aginst a Polish noble. We divided the work with Waldman. He concentrated on the city of Ternopil, and I took on myself the area which belonged to Mahler's district - Mikulintsy, Terebovlya, and Chortkiv and its hundreds of villages. The district had two mandates. One mandate was to be elected by the majority of the votes (the votes of the majority – Ukrainian peasants). The other mandate was reserved for the candidate who was to receive more than a quarter of the votes (usually the votes of the Polish and Jewish minorities). The Polish nobles' plan was good, until we broke it, by positioning Zionist candidates. There was no hope for these candidates to receive a quarter of the votes. In Austria, these candidates were called “zählenkandidat” (“Counting Candidates”). They did not come from the leadership of the Zionist party. They were not of the caliber of people like Stand, Zipper, Braude, Tahun, or Meltz. They were second or even third-level people. They were appointed only so that the Jews would have somebody to vote for, avoiding giving their vote to a Polish candidate, without evoking the hatred of the Ukrainians. The opposite was true. That was a kind of a neutral position, like a public announcement that we do not want to help one nation rule over the other. Also, it was a declaration that we demanded what is due to us – everything that is given to every other nation in the Austrian empire, meaning recognizing the Jews as a nation with its own language and culture. Obviously, there was no shortage of curiosities. Our political leaders were inexperienced. Like the Polish-Austrian administration, they had never faced the masses and did not know how to influence them and how to subdue the masses to its will using all sorts of ploys. Our leaders did not appreciate our nation's will in Galitsia. In the provincial cities and villages, The Jews demonstrated courage that even the most enthusiastic people among us could not foresee. With boundless enthusiasm, without regard to the possible undermining of their economic situation (as their livelihood depended on the wealthy Polish estate owners), they handed us their vote. And so it happened that in two of the districts - one in Chortkiv where “Bar Kokhba” worked, and the other in Pidhaitsi, where “Emuna” from Lviv worked, the Ukrainian candidate received the majority votes, but neither the Jewish candidate nor the Polish received a quarter of the vote. A run-off election (“stichwhalen”) was called between the Zionist Jew and the Polish Noble. In that election, the Ukrainians voted for the Zionist candidates. In the district of Chortkiv, Professor Mahler (who was a Zionist but not from among us) was elected, and in Pidhaitsi, a Zionist candidate Dr. Heinrikh Gabel was elected. He never dreamed about being elected.

In Ternopil, Dr. Israel Waldman moved heaven and earth. We had never seen such intensive dissemination of propaganda in our city before. We conducted public gatherings where thousands participated, parades, posted posters, distributed newspapers, and published articles, which were distributed to every Jewish home. The days when Adolf Stand gave speeches became National celebrations. It was a year of enthusiasm and political awakening. Despite the terror by the district's Polish commissioner and the danger, we fought like lions. One day we found out that the voter cards had to be printed on a special paper. That paper was stored at the court in Vienna, and the district commissioner did not send to anybody suspected of supporting Zionism. So, Waldman organized a street demonstration

[Columns 139-140]

ter139.JPG
Delegates from Galitsia to the 9th Zionist Congress in Hamburg
(In the pictures: Most of the Members of The Galitsian Zionist Central Committee)

From right to left – Sitting: Meir Henish, Dr. Chaim Tartakower, Dr. Ph. Korngruen, Maiblum, Dr. Yehoshua Thon, Mrs. Dr. Thon, Dr. Mordekhai Zeev Braude, Mrs. Sarah Ritterman from Stanislawow,
Adolf Stand, Zilah Waldman Dr. Michal Ringel, Mrs. Dr. G. Gabel, Bentzion Fet, Dr. Israel Waldman, Dr. Alexander Hausman

Standing: Braude (Brother of Dr. Braude), Unknown, Joseph Zusman from Stanislawow, Moshe Waldman, Dr. Hirshorn, Eng. Sokal from Stanislawow, Dr. I. Lauterbach, Rabbi Dr. Nimrower, Herman Trop, Dr. Alexander Ritterman,
Waldman from Drohobicz, Avraham Shenbach from Sanok, Dr, Heinrikh Gabel, Dr. Henryk Rosemarin, Yehoshua Washitz from Hamburg, Unkown, Dr. Warhaftig, Unknown

 

and a parade to the district commissioner under the watch of the gendarmery - a real revolution. Ernest Breiter, a parliament representative, a Polish democrat, and one of the world righteous, who stayed in Switzerland at the time, bought the special paper for the voter cards and we distributed them throughout Galitsia's cities in a single sleepless week. Dr. Israel Waldman established an association for the hard work laborers and porters called “HaShakhar” [“The Dawn”]. From among its members, he formed a guard group. That group, along with people from “Bar Kokhba”, guarded him and Adolf Stand from the attacks by the underworld thugs, who were hired by our rivals to “blow out” our gatherings by force. We fulfilled that mission faithfully and did not shy away from using force ourselves. In the meantime, the issues of the“Des Yiddishe Tagblat” newspapers were handed down from one person to another. Meir Khatiner published there his sequel article - “Knesset Israel BeTza'ar” [“Literarily – “Israel's Knesset in sorrow”] – written in blood and fire. It constituted a declaration of a merciless war against Jewish assimilation. If you have not seen Jews waking up at 4 o'clock in the morning and running to the train station to grab a copy of the newspaper where the articles were published, you have not witnessed a Zionist event. Stand himself said many times that these articles brought him half of the Jewish votes. However, despite all of the efforts, we only managed to conquer the people's hearts. We attracted the youths in all the Hasidic homes, the half-converted Jews, and the women. We caused a split in many Jewish homes and also acquired a popular and pure name for the Zionist Movement. However, Gal was elected over our candidate as the parliament representative. He was a half-converted Jew, a person lucking a national spine and knowledge of Judaism. He was what was named - “Ein gemesigter izrelit” (“a moderate Jew”) without a Jewish spirit in him who joined the club of the young Polish representatives in the Viennese parliament. We were encouraged to hear that Adolf Stand was elected in Brody. In the evening when the results of the election became known, the porter association held a serenading party honoring Gal, after receiving two sacks of flour from his mill in Ternopil. However, the news about that party was overshadowed by the sea of joy and excitement than engulfed Ternopil Jews as a result of the election of Adolf Stand, who was the real Jewish winner.

In 1907, the first Zionist club in the Austrian parliament (and, for that matter, the first parliamentary Zionist in the entire world) was established in Vienna. The following people were the founding members of the club: Dr. Beno Shtroikher, Adolf Stand, Dr. Arthur Mahler, and Dr. Heinrikh Gabel. The real day-to-day activity of political Zionism began.

These lines are not the place to review who were the people that were elected instead of the more qualified and prominent people. It is also not the place to describe how the harsh reality, which offered too few possibilities to match the theory, hopes, and enthusiasm that rose during the election. The parliamentary Zionist club brought us a big honor. We grew up, and the world began to treat us not as a group of idealistic students but as a popular movement with all of its advantages and disadvantages.

[Columns 141-142]

During that same period, the following people were elected as “seniors”: Avraham Shwartzman, Alexander Rapoport, Leon Horwitz, Aba Aurbach, and Moshe Fisher. In 1910, Ternopil Zionists and many other Jews who joined our camp participated in the big political battle for recognizing Yiddish as one of the formal languages in the Austrian empire. Formally recognizing the language would have allowed establishing Jewish schools and ensured government budgeted allocations to Jewish cultural institutions. The victory meant that tens of thousands of people could respond that their spoken language was Yiddish rather than Polish, in the census held in Austria every decade.

In 1910, the terror by the Polish-Austrian governors did not subside, but the stubbornness, will, and pride of the Jewish masses grew with it. Unfortunately, history caused all of the efforts, victories, dedication, and deep faith of the Jewish masses in Ternopil and Galitsia all the creations and the achievements sank in a sea of tears and blood. The majority of them were forgotten or about to be forgotten.

In 1911, new elections were held upon the dissolution of the central Austrian parliament. Dr. Israel Waldman managed the campaign in Ternopil again, and Adolf Stand was placed as the candidate in Ternopil and other locations. The campaign propaganda was managed vigorously and dedicatedly like in 1907, however, despite all the efforts, the results were negative, and the Zionist club in the Austrian parliament was dissolved.

The national political defeat did not undermine the influence of the movement. The opposite was true. Just then came the disillusionment and disappointment from the diaspora and anything associated with it. Even before the defeat in 1911 and more vigorously after it, the Zionist thinkers in Ternopil, like in the rest of Galitsia, turned their efforts towards a direct day-to-day work on settling Eretz Israel and the dissemination of the Hebrew language and culture. There was no shortage of harsh debates and crises at the [Zionist] Union and the central committee in Lviv about whether the Zionists needed to be involved in national politics. The person in the center of these debates was “Bar Kokhba's” member, Meir Khartiner, who zealously fought against the one who represented the view about national political involvement, Dr. Gershon Zipper. The quarrel was spilled over to the newspapers and the Jewish public opinions.

My memories about the events beyond 1911 are greatly blurred since I moved to Lviv in 1911 as the president of the Galitsia and Bukovina's Hebrew Schools organization replacing Dr. Shlomo Shiller z”l who made Aliya to Eretz Israel. In the same year, three Hebraic organizations (the Hebrew Culture Union, headed by Yehoshua Tahun, Hebrew Teachers Association, headed by Refael Superman, and Hebrew Schools Association, headed by D. Korngruen) announced the establishment of the “Day of the Hebrews”, the first in Galitsia and the entire world, which was held in Lviv. This Hebrew conference brought with it an awakening of the Hebrew movement. Thanks to it, thirty-five Hebrew elementary

 

ter141.JPG
The membership (and guests) of “Bar Kokhba”, New York (1952)

[Columns 143-144]

weakened. After the First World War, I was elected, along with Dr. Israel Waldman, Adolf Stand, Dr. Leon Reich, and Michel Rigel as a representative to the “Commitè des Delegations Juives” [“Committee of Jewish Delegations”] in Paris. In 1920, I have already managed the central Eretz Israeli office that assisted tens of thousands of immigrants and pioneers in their Aliya to Eretz Israel. I attribute all of my activities there to my membership in “Bar Kokhba” in Ternopil. The last time I visited Ternopil was when I traveled along with my wife, Frida Korngreun (nee Zilberdik) to say goodbye to my parents before making Aliya to Eretz Israel.

* * *

I tried to describe our Zionist life in Ternopil, in the period of “Sturm und Drang” [ “Storm and Passion”]. I know that I have only provided the outlines. The actual Zionist life in Ternopil was rich in many aspects, fruitful, alluring, authentic, and cultural.

Ternopil was a strong citadel of the international and the Galitsian Zionist Movement. Ternopil treated Zion and Zionism seriously. Zionist Ternopil could always be counted on to act dedicatedly without any doubt, disciplined without any deviations, believing in the vision. In Ternopil, the youth tried their best to unify Zionism with human culture and general humanity with the Hebraic and Jewish culture. We never disassociate ourselves from the Zionist and Jewish world. We succeeded in most of our endeavors. It is hard to remember all of the details: all of the balls, theatrical shows, scientific and popular lectures, Jewish history classes, Jewish schools, and many more. Etched in my memory are the visits by the generation's greats, Jewish and Christians. I remember the visits of people like Leah Rozin, who was a great actor in the imperial theater in Vienna, Morris Rosenfeld, the famous poet, and especially the visit by Shalom Aleichem.

“Bar Kokhba” Association was the only organization or institution in our city that continued its existence as an association of academic Zionists beyond World War II. Its center is in Tel Aviv with branches in Jerusalem, Haifa, and New York (after its branches in Warsaw, Lviv, and Krakow were closed). Its activities did not cease because of the two World Wars and other local wars. The spark was not extinguished. When the source was annihilated in Ternopil by the Nazi Holocaust, and the branches in Poland closed or emptied, the branches in Eretz Israel and America continued their activities. The name “Bar Kokhba” was never erased, and the connections among the members never ceased during good and bad times.

It is impossible to understand and appreciate Zionism in that portion of Galitsia, which bordered with Russia, during those heydays before 1914, the days of Herzl, the awakening of the Jewish nation, and the creation of those values, ideas, slogans, and views, on which the founding state of Israel and its Hebraic culture are based, without describing “Bar Kokhba Ternopil”.

The Protocol

From the first congress of the Zionist Graduates of the Schools in Galitsia

Location: Ternopil
The meetings' location: The Social Club
Dates: 15 – 16th July 1901

The First Meeting

Member Korngruen opens the meeting at 10 AM, in the name of the conference's founders. He welcomes the participants and calls for fruitful work.

The presidential committee of the conference was elected based on the proposal by the special committee. The following members were elected unanimously:

Chairman: Member Ph. Korngruen (Ternopil).
First Vice-Chairman: Member Izik Bekher (Stanisławów – now Ivano-Frankivsk).
Second Vice-Chairman: Member Mark Vishnitzer
Secretaries: Members Yaa'kov Karp (Zolochiv) and Henrik Lendesberg (Stryj)

The chairman takes his place at the head of the table and invites two members to keep order.
The chairman proposes to accept the proposal of the special committee:

  1. To award to right of advisement to the academic members.
  2. To award the right of advisement to Mrs. Roza Pomerantz, the chairwoman of the Ternopil district Zionist committee.
  3. To adopt the bylaws of the Zionist conferences.
The proposals were adopted unanimously. According to paragraph no. 1 of the agenda, the chairman recognizes member Bekher to give a lecture about the subject: “Our Organization”.

In the opening of his lecture, the speaker divides the youth into three types a. The assimilators b. Indifference youth c. The Zionist youth. In his description, he skips over the first type, as it is small, and in a sorry state. However, he recommends investing efforts to win the hearts of the youth of the second type. These efforts should rely on the mobilization of the Zionist youth, who is the most numerous among the Jewish studying youth. The speaker demands that the Zionist youth, exert not just an external effort but first and most of all, also penetrate and deepen the [Zionist] idea among the members. After talking about the obligation of the Zionist youth towards the movement, he concludes that only the unity of the youth and its consolidation into a single national organization would guarantee efficient actions. In the speaker's opinion, a free organization of “academic Zionists in Galitsia” should be established.

At the end of the speech, the speaker asked the participants to postpone the debate about his lecture until after the following lecture about methods of propaganda, which is related to his lecture.

In the discussion that followed Bekher's lecture, Israel Waldman claimed that we should separate the discussion about the form of the organization and the propaganda methods. On the other hand, Mrs. Pomerantz supported the speaker's proposal. In the vote that followed, Mrs. Pomerantz's argument was adopted, and the chairman recognized Izik Nusbaum to lecture about “propaganda”.

In that lecture, the sincere desire by the studying youths to get involved in Zionist work was expressed. The Zionist movement should utilize them as the pioneers of the Zionist ideas to disseminate the Zionist ideas,

[Columns 145-146]

in words and actions to every corner and location in Galitsia. The number of people who can deliver propaganda is as large as the number of our members. The speaker divided the propaganda into four types according to the age group it could be assigned to members: a) Propaganda among the high schools' students (by establishing clubs for the fostering the study of history, literature, and the Hebrew language) b) Propaganda among the academic youth (by personal interaction and dissemination of Jewish studies) c) Propaganda among the intelligentsia (by organizing national holidays festivals, literary lectures, and distribution of political newspapers) d) Propaganda among the masses (by popular lectures and Yiddish newspapers).

Members Viishnitzer, Landuau, Israel Waldman, Pomerantz, and Katzstein participated in the debate. Based on Mrs. Pomeranz's proposal, an organizing committee includes the members: Bekher, Vishnitzer, Shpindle, and Korngruen. Mrs. Pomerantz was elected as the chairwoman.

The second meeting was devoted to the problems of the propaganda, and the following proposals were adopted:

  1. To establish an academic Zionist association in every city where conditions allowed.
  2. The conference tasked its participants, to establish a “Toynbee Hall” (a popular university for the masses) in every location it was possible to do so.
  3. The associations should organize public gatherings and send speakers to the provincial city.
  4. The conference tasks the associations with the obligation to organize popular balls.
  5. The association must establish clubs
  6. The association must mobilize all of the Zionist studying youths to service the Zionist Union in all of its areas of involvement.
In the third Meeting – the committee submitted the following proposals:
  1. The conference of the Galitsian Zionist graduates in Ternopil on 15 – 16 July 1901 is founding a Zionist academic in Ternopil in the name fraternity of “Bar Kokhba”.
  2. Graduates of high schools and people with an academic degree are entitled to join. Teachers of the Baron Hirsch school and elementary schools can join as non-regular members but with the obligation and rights of regular members. The association is allowed to elect honorary members (prominent figures with special achievements benefiting Zionism) for a conference and the association steering committee usually. Honorary members enjoy the same rights as regular members.
  3. The fraternity would be headed by a steering committee. The steering committee would consist of members from the central office who would be assigned by the conference, and members who would be elected directly by the conference.
  4. The location of the central office for the years 1901 and 1902 would be in Ternopil.
  5. The central office would consist of three members, all from Ternopil. Four additional members from other cities would be elected directly by the conference.
  6. The fraternity of “Bar Kokhba” would organize the conference annually, at a time that coincides with school graduation. The conference of the graduates and the general assembly of the association would be held together.
  7. It is the responsibility of the steering committee to make sure that the conference resolution would be executed, however, the committee has the authority to pass its own resolutions, as long as they do not contradict the conference's resolutions.
  8. The central office must execute the committee resolutions.
  9. The committee and its members must execute the instructions by the central office.
  10. At a frequency decided upon by the conference (in 1901 – 1902 – once a month), the representatives of the committees must send reports about the activities, situation, and general and specific proposals related to the location where they are operating.
The organization's proposal was adopted unanimously. The location of the main office was determined to be in Ternopil for the then-current year. The following members were elected to serve in the head office: Avraham Pomerantz, Landau, Miller (Ternopil), and the representatives of the committees: Horn (Brody), Becher (Stanisławów, now Ivano-Frankivsk), and Landesberg. (Stryj).

According to the proposal by member Korngruen, it was decided upon an annual membership of two Kronen (paid in installments of half a year). The president of the association would be elected from among then members of the central committee, by the central committee itself.

Lively debates, with the participation of all members, followed the lecture of member Vishnitzer about “Our Cultural Roles”. The opinions of the participating teachers were heard.

The following decisions were adopted:

  1. Absolute prohibition of duels among members of the fraternity. Matters of honor between members of the fraternity and people on the outside should be resolved in peace. A dual would depend on specific cases.
  2. The first conference imposes requires that the members of the fraternity, develop their physical abilities. For that purpose, members should establish clubs for athletics, fencing, and other sports.
  3. The conference demands that its teachers serving in schools, named after Baron Hirsch, pay attention to the development of the physical abilities of the school children (As proposed by the member Mrs. Khartiner).
  4. The conference believes that our Jewish culture must be based on morals. Therefore, the conference demands the cultivation of good Jewish attributes and ethics. The conference wishes to bring the youth closer to the Jewish masses by mending its views and widening its knowledge about Judaism, Jewish history, Yiddish literature, and Hebrew (Vishnitzer's proposal). It is forbidden to hurt the religious feeling of Jews and non-Jews (Miller's proposal)
  5. [Members are encouraged to] found Jewish social life and take interest in Jewish poetry and art.
  6. The conference requires that the central office with send memorandums to the management of the schools established by Baron Hirsch and all the high school religion teachers to demand that they author textbooks in the spirit of the National Jewish and Hebraic culture and to pay special attention to the teaching of Jewish history and the Hebrew language, in a modern style (proposals by Shpindel, Werfel, Korngruen, Aftibutzer).
The conference ended with the singing of The Zionist hymns and the signing of a fraternal covenant.

The under signers:

The Conference Chairman: Member Ph. Korngruen
The First Acting Chairman: Member Izik Becher
The Second Acting Chairman: Member Mark Vishnitzer The Secretaries: Members Yaakov Karp, Henrikh Lanndesberg


Author's Note:

  1. Details about Dr. Israel Waldman's personality and Zionist activity can be found on page 147 of the book Return

 

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