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[Page 393]

The Zionist movement

 

Tseyirey Zion (Zion's Youngsters) in Volozhin

Written by Shlomo Bunimovitsh

Translated by M. Porat z”l

Edited by Judy Feinsilver Montel

The branch of “Tseyirey Zion” in Volozhin was founded in 1918 and was one of the earliest in Russia. Volozhin was near the front and Jewish soldiers were stationed in town, among them were educated young men who were members of Zionist organizations. They persuaded the shtetl's inhabitants that their ways were the right ones, our people cannot exist in Diaspora and for this reason we must go to the Holy Land.

The founder of the Volozhin branch was Osher Malkin. He participated in the session of the Russian “Tseyirey Zion” organization. He assembled a group of activists, among them were: Shlomo Bunimovitsh, Tsipa Gelman, Hayim Deretshinski, Noah Horovitz, Yosef Tabakhovitsh, Ola Svirski, Israel Rogovin and Tsvi Rogovin.

The branch issued a Journal “Der Bezem” (The Broom), edited by Shlomo Bunimovitsh, in which the shtetl's life was criticized. The writers called upon young people to make Aliya.

In its first days the group numbered 80 persons. We rented a club in the Lower Town (Aroptsu) in Gala Perski's house. We organized an amateur's band. Our group acted successfully in several shows, among them “Di Pintele Yid” (The Jewish Point), “The Makhasheyfe (Witch) and “Mirele Efross”.

We also held literary debates. The most memorable was the debate on Sholom Aleykhem's “Menkhem Mendl”, whose purpose was to prove the miserable situation of our people who lived on businesses without foundations.

 

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The Hakhshara Group of Volozhin Tseyirey Zion in Rudnik

From left: Yekhezkel Glik, Meyir Melzer, Tsvi Rogovin, Zeev Shaker, Dovid-Itshe Kantorovitsh, Shlomo Bunimovitsh, Mordkay Mlot

 

The Shtetl's library was managed by philo-Russians. The visitors were obliged to speak Russian only. We attacked this situation subscribing all our members as library readers. We became the majority and changed the practice. The library became bilingual, Hebrew and Yiddish.

Our society, despite being socialist, organized a praying Minyan for its members. At the Simhas-Toyre Shakhariss (Morning prayer) Yossef Tabakhovitsh served as Cantor, at Mussaf (noon) – Avrom Berkovitsh.

Our party believed that a true Zionist is only one who's living in Erets Isroel. We founded a group for learning agricultural work in Rudnik a hamlet near Volozhin. We worked there at Mikhla's (a Zionist woman) farm.

Mr Ahrnshtadt visited Volozhin on 1924. He organized a seminar there for party members and sympathizers. His educational influence was remarkable. The branch enlarged and grew stronger.

The Committee for Aliya certification in Lida bestowed certificates upon many Tseyirey Zion members on 1925.

Meir Baksht, Shlomo Bunimotsh, Tsvi Rogovin and others made Aliya in 1926.


[Page 396]

The “Hakhaluts” (Pioneer) in Volozhin

Written by a group of pioneers

Translated by M. Porat z”l

Edited by Judy Feinsilver Montel

The beginning of Hakhaluts in Volozhin was based on “Liberty and Revival”, an association of Zionist Youngsters at the age of 15-16. It was founded in 1921. Its activity was expressed in selling Keren Kayemet stamps and in collecting donations for it.

Moshe Zalman Ben Sasson (Luntz), a scion of the Volozhin Rabbinic dynasty had formed the organization according to Zionist ideas. Appropriately, what Moshe Zalman demanded he also fulfilled. He made Aliya in 1923. But the movement continued to grow.

The Shtetl's poverty pushed Young Volozhiners to the ranks of “Hakhaluts”. They understood that their place could not be here but in the Holy Land.

The first Haluzim-Pioneers were: Yakov Girson, Nahum Gelman, Mendl Volkovtsh, Hayim Binie Kaganovitsh, Eliezer Lavit, Leybl Luboshits, Zelg Meltser, Rachel Meltser, Hayim Potashnik, Kive Potashnik, Etl Paretski, Eli Hershl Perski, Sonia Kozlovski, Fania Kivilevitsh, Dovid Itskhok Kantorovitsh, Eliezer Kaplan, Ben Zion Kaplan, Moossia Rogovin, Esther Shaker, Mordkhe Yoodl Shvartsberg, Benyamin Shishko.

We organized many cultural and political events at our Hakhaluts club in the Smorgoner Street. The teachers Noah Perski and Tsvi Zeltser taught us Hebrew. We received journals and magazines like “Hapoel Hatsayir” (The Young Workman) from from Erets Isroel and “Haatid” (The Future) from the Hakhaluts center in Poland.

Our activities were also practical. We organized a group which worked at the wood saw mills in Volozhin. It was composed of young people from Smorgon, Rakov, Vileyka, Oshmene. They lived at the house of Bernshteyn the Blacksmith. The first to obtain certificates and to make Aliya were Hayim Potashnik, Nahum Gelman and Hayim Binie Kahanovitsh (1924). Yakov Guirson and Fania Kivilevitsh followed them in 1925.

After the 1924/1925 Aliya the Volozhin branch became stronger and larger. New members joined the party activity.

More people were certified to make Aliya. Itskhok Perski (the branch leader), Shlomo Berger, Etl Paretski and Mina Perski went to Palestine in 1932.

The activity continued. District conventions of Hakhaluts were held in Horodok and in Smorgon. Hundreds of members assembled in the forest near Smorgon. As a result of the activity many Volozhin Haluzim joined Hakhshara centers, obtained certificates and made Aliya, among them were Batia Botvinik, Ester Grinberg, Hayim Tsvi Potashnik, Fruma Rogovin, Sara Rudnitski and Sara Rapoport (1933).

The Volozhin Hakhaluts Branch began to die down one year before the war, in 1938. The shortage of Aliya certificates was the main cause. Members who had been on the waiting list for years were deeply disappointed. They became absorbed in Volozhin without any possibility of fulfilling their dream of Erets Isroel. They remained there with some hope of realizing the dream until the Soviets occupied our town.

 

vol401.jpg
Volozhin Hakhluts members' first Aliya to Erets Israel

From left to right:
First row seated: Dovid Itskhok Kantorovitsh, not from Volozhin
Second row seated: Etl Shuker, Hayim Potashnik, Hayim Binie Kahanovitsh
Standing: Yakov Guirzon, Eliezer Lavit, Fania Kivilevitsh, Zelig Meltser

 

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Volozhin hakaluts branch confirmation
“We confirm that Itskhok Perski was the Volozhin branch head during 1923-1932”


[Page 405]

Preparation (Hakhshara) of Pioneers (Haluts) in Youzefpol

By Leah Nakhshon-Shif (Tel Aviv)

Translated by Moshe Porat z”l

Edited by Judy Feinsilver Montel

 

vol400.jpg
A group of Volozhin born pioneers at Polak's saw-mill
From right to left: Shneur Kivilevitsh, Eliezer Lavit,Etl Shuker, Moole Polak, Moosia Rogovin

 

Youzefpol became a site for the preparation of Zionist pioneers. A group of thirty young people arrived there to learn how to live and work in common and to prepare themselves for “aliya” to Palestine. The Jewish boys and girls replaced a few local workers. It was not an easy task. But Mr. Kutshevitski and Mr. Shif, the mill proprietors, did all they could to help the Zionist youngsters accomplish their aim on the way to a Jewish state in the land of Israel.

The Hakhshara youngsters filled the empty rooms of Count Tyshkevitch's large house. The quiet place turned into a Zionist center. It was full of life, of Yiddish speaking and Hebrew songs.


The Hakhshara group of the “Hakhaluts Hamizrakhi”

By Arye Kharuts

Translated by M. Porat z”l

Edited by Judy Feinsilver Montel

After three years in the Yeshiva an idea entered into my brain to make Aliya. I could not join the “Hakhaluts", because its members did not observe our tradition enough. I planned to go to Vilna to join a religious Zionist group.

But suddenly an event happened that made much noise in Volozhin. A young man named Moshe Yakov Kvyat (Flower in Polish), now Perakh (Flower in Hebrew) studied at the Yeshivah. He was 20 years old, intelligent, energetic and diligent. Many important Volozhin Balebatim wanted to take him home as a son in law. But he did not look for a bride whose heart was not in the Holy Land. He looked for a spouse to be his partner in Aliya.

He searched and he found Malka Shishko the daughter of a decent family. Two days after his marriage Yakov Moshe went to Vilna to see about arranging the desired journey. But he was not eligible because he did not have the required sum of money.

I met him inside the Yeshiva after his return from Vilna. He took out a sheet of paper; he gave it to me and said that only this condolence remained. It was written on the paper that the Vilna “Mizrahi” association authorized Mr. Moyshe-Yankev Kviat to organize a branch of “Hakhaluts Hamizrakhi” in Volozhin. He doubted if there would be a single Yeshiva-man willing to close the Guemora book and register with an agricultural preparation (Hakhshara). I registered at once. We found three others: Moyshe-Dovid Namiot, Yoysef Goldshteyn and Moyshe Golub.

The subject was conducted in secret. In the Yeshiva there was no sign. All the meetings were held in a private house, behind closed doors and covered windows, or in the open air on “Mount “Bialik””. It was decided that all would be done to attain our purpose even with hard labor, hunger and suffering. To finance the activities every one committed himself to bring in the money he received from the Yeshiva, after he paid his dwelling charge.

Obviously our money could not be sufficient for such a project. We received some help from the Volozhin “Mizrahkhi” movement balebatim. They gathered $100 to create a foundation for our activity.

Moyshe Yakov searched and found a place where we could learn the agriculture labor. Rabbi Ber's property “Male Berki” in Brilki (a hamlet near Volozhin) suited our purpose. R' Ber's courtyard, the so called “Male Berki” was situated on a hill top surrounded by fields. R' Ber's old wooden house contained 2 rooms. In one of them, in the bigger one, lived the landlord with his spouse and three children. This room served the family as dining room, bedroom and kitchen. The second room, the smaller, served us as our common apartment.

Our group numbered six people: Moyshe-Yankev Kviat (Perakh), his spouse Malka Shishko, Shmuel Dovid Namiot, Ariye Kharuts, Moyshe Goloob and Yoysef Goldshteyn. The group was founded at Passover 1925. We committed ourselves to the realization of the pioneers' duty. We decided to go the day after the Holiday to “Male Berki”.

At dawn our small group was assembled near Moyshe Yankev's house. Every one brought his package with him and put it into the cart. After a little while the cart, loaded with personnel luggage, with agriculture tools and kitchenware, left the Shtetl. The cart climbed the Kapustin hill. From its top we could see the Yeshiva building.

Arriving in Male Berki , the first thing we did was to clean and arrange the tiny room for our living. Here we took our meals, we studied Guemora and our Holy books, and we read journals and books oriented on Zionism. And as to sleep, we slept in the barn.

 

vol407.jpg
The “Hanaziv Group” of “Hakhaluts Hamizrakhi” in Male Berki
Upon the left horse: Yosef Goldsteyn. Upon the right horse: Arye Kharuts (the author)
Standing from left to right: Sheyndl (R'Shimon di Bord's daughter), Shmuel Dovid Ohali (Namiyot), Freydl Berman, Moyshe Yakov Perah (Kviat), Etl Shishko, Tsirl (The Aroptsu Baker's daughter), Leybl Liberman, Rivka Namiyot
Seated: Malka Shishko, Leybl Shepetnitski, Moyshe Goloob

 

With the field we rented there was also a vegetable garden. Here we had our first lessons in the agriculture art. The first teacher was the old Makar one of the estate servants. The hardest work was plowing the land. Our garden was placed on a slope and the horse did not want to pull the plow uphill. We did not succeed in making a single straight mound. We looked enviously at R' Ber who made a perfectly straight line holding the plough with one hand.

After some days we learned in quite a satisfactory way the labor of the soil.

From now on we did not wonder to see straight line plowing. R' Ber who complained that we spoiled his land asked us to cultivate his part during the time we were free from our obligations. Our success reached the Shtetl. Youngsters began to believe that our way is good and interesting. The subscriptions into our branch increased. Even girls joined the “Hakhaluts Hamizrakhi” and one of them, Freydl, R' Leyb's daughter was sent in Male Berki to facilitate our domestic work.

We cultivated our land with joy and excitement. We arranged 120 vegetable garden beds. All of them were straight forty feet long. The rest of our land was sown with potatoes, corn and flax. Returning home from a long day of hard labor in the fields, we did not forget to learn a Guemorah page after praying “Maariv”, the evening prayer.

Rumor of our achievements reached Vilna. Mr Reuven Finger arrived in Volozhin to examine our knowledge in working the land. He went to Male Berki, he saw our work and was satisfied with what his eyes had seen. We returned to Volozhin after we received Aliya certificates. On our way to Erets Israel the entire town population accompanied us, all of them happy with our joy.

Translator's note:

Moshe Yaakov Perakh (Kviat) with his spouse Malka (Shishko) settled in the agricultural Moshava Karkur after they made Aliya from “Male Berki”.

 

vol408.jpg
Benyamin Perakh

 

Benyamin Perakh, son of Moyshe Yakov and Malka Perakh (Kviat) became an active member in the “Hagana”. He participated in many battles during the War of Independence. He fell in the Negev battle on December 28, 1948. He was 22 years old.


[Page 410]

Beytar in Volozhin

By Beitar members

Translated by M. Porat z”l

Edited by Judy Feinsilver Montel

A scout Zionist movement was founded in 1928 in Volozhin with the purpose of uniting the Tarbut School graduates in organized sporting and cultural activities. But the young members wanted political ideas. Mr. Hayim Goloventshits the School manager, who sympathized with the Revisionist movement proposed to invite a suitable instructor from Vilna. We invited Mr. Betsalel Likhtenshtein from Brit Troompeldor. Our group became the Volozhin Beytar “Nest” (BeYTar – Brit Yosef Troompeldor).

All the nest activities were conducted in Hebrew. The members were called “Brothers” and “Sisters”. The Beytar symbol was the Menorah. It decorated our caps. We greeted one another by the word “Tel Hay”. We chose our leading Committee: Shabtay Baksht, Batia Guerman, Dov Lavit, Borukh Mordkhe Meyirson, Bela Kramnik and Efrayim Rogovin. The first nest commander was Dov Lavit (Also the first Volozhin Descendants- Head in Israel).

 

vol412.jpg
Beytar Nest 1928

From left to right, rows from above down:

1st row: Hayim Perski, Kopl Kagan, Rochl Perski, Lea Potashnik, Beylke Mordukhovitsh, Feygl Kramnik, Hinde Rudnik, Mina Berman, Etke, Dovid Bunimotsh, Yosef Dubinski, Zalman Perski
2nd row: Itskhok Perski, Shmuel Berman, Hayim Alpert, Peshke Rogovin, Bela Potashnik, Isroel Berkovitsh, Zlatke Lavit,Roda Alpert, Avram Berman, Hayim Kissiel
3rd row: Isak Kaplan, Shlomo Libeman, Eliezer Maze, Bela Kramnik, Hayim Goloventhits, Dov Lavit, Mania Dubinski, Yakov Berkovitsh, Shabtay Baksht
4rth row: Rivka Perski, Roza Berman, Perl Rudnik, Pessah Berman, Perez Rogovin, Miryam Rosenberg, Hiene Rogovin, Tsila Perski, Hayim Shalman

 

Due to the Committee's hard work the number of members reached eighty after a short time. We held our sessions in the local Tarbut school in the evenings. There we heard lectures about Erets Isroel its history and geography. The Nest spread its knowledge and ideas outside the town into the surrounding shtetls. We helped to found Beytar nests in Vishnievo, Trab, Baksht, Ivianits and Horodok. Volozhin became the center of the vicinity's Beytar nests. Inside the town conferences were held, assemblies and meetings, in which renowned instructors took part like Tsvi Bergman from Baranovitsh, Gershon Ashknazi from Vilna, Daniel Perski the and others.

The nest emphasized military training. The local Polish garrison agreed to post an instructor at the nest and to lend us firearms, gas masks and grenades for training purposes. Among Volozhin inhabitants there were different points of view regarding this activity. A part of them was persuaded that Jewish youth should know military art prepatory to the dangerous duties awaiting them in Palestine. Others saw it as funny saber rattling. But after the 1929 Arab pogroms even the skeptical understood the serious need of military knowledge. Dov Lavit made Aliya on 1930, Efrayim Rogovin and Bela Kramnik in 1933.

 

vol415.jpg
A group of Beytar military trainees' commanded by Efrayim Rogovin
Mount Bialik in the background

 

A new leading committee was elected after the veterans went to Erets Israel. Its members were Nekhama Lunin, Borukh Mordkhe Meyirson, Kopl Kagan, Isroel Berkovitsh Benyomin Kleynbord, Peshke Rogovin and Eliezer Maza as the nest head.

The nest members increased to hundred sixty “Brothers” and “Sisters” during the last years before WWII. Influenced by their teachers Yakov Lifshits and Gliker many Tarbut students and graduates joined the nest.

Mr Aron Propus the Beytar governor in Poland arrived in Volozhin to give the nest an award of excellence.

The years passed, years of hope and faith until the skies darkened and announced the disasters of the oncoming war. The events developed rapidly. The Polish rule collapsed quickly after the outbreak of the war. The Soviets occupied Volozhin two weeks later. Tsviya Maza, Dovid Shmerkovitsh and Tzipora Shepsenwoll ran to Borukh Mordkhe Meyirson, took the keys to the nest, went to the hall, opened its doors, gathered all documents they could find and burnt them. They dug a hole and concealed the banner and the award of excellence inside it. The Beytar members knew what they might expect from the Bolsheviks. They decided to leave Volozhin and strive to reach Palestine.

Some Beytarim ran away from Volozhin and went to Vilna, from where it was possible to emigrate. Among them were: Sara Bunimovitsh, Nekhama Lunin, Tsvi Lunin, Borukh Mordkhe Meyirson, Yakov Finger, Yakov Kagan, Peshke Rogovin, Leybl Shvartzberg, Dovid Shmerkovitsh, Hay-Liba Shepsnvol, Tsipora Shepsnvol.

Dovid Shmerkovitsh brought the can with the award and banner to Vilna. The banner was concealed again this time in the soil of Vilna. The award was given to Tsipora Shepsnvoll. She guarded it during all her wanderings and brought it finally in Israel.

The Beytar organization was active in Volozhin during eleven years. The Beytar organization became the leading Zionist movement in our town. Due to the inspiration of Beytar two organizations were founded in Volozhin: the Revisionist- Zionist Union, headed by Shlomo Hayim Broodno and Avram Tsart; and the second one, “The Soldiers League” headed by Avrom Berkovitsh, Shneur Kivilevitsh, Onie Rubin and others, all of them soldiers in the past.

 

vol421.jpg
Beytar graduates and “Soldiers league” members during the visit of Lipa Leviatan from Erets Israel on November 13, 1934

From left to right, rows from above down:
1st row: Hayim Itshe Ore, Feygl Kramnik, Benyomin Kleynbord, Shriro, Rasl Shlosberg, Asher Yotser's daughter, Tsila Perski, Leybl Shalman, Tsviya Lunin, Pessah Berman, Freydl Kramnik, Yona Shapiro
2nd row: Yakov Lifshits, Mordkhay Maretski, Borukh Mordkhe Meyirson, Avrom Berkovitsh, Rivka Perski, Lipa Leviatan, Onie Rubin, Shlomo Meltser, Perts Rogovin
3rd row: Dovid Bunimovitsh, Moyshe Kaplan, Son of lawyer, Leybl Shvartsberg, Itke Kalik, Hinke Rogovin, Rivka Rogovin, Eliyakim Tsimerman, Peshke Rogovin


[Page 422]

“Shomer Hatsayir” Hakhshara in Volozhin

By Rachel Kna'any (Berman) – Kibuts Merkhaviya

Translated by M. Porat z”l

Edited by Judy Feinsilver Montel

I arrived in Volozhin on 1933. It was a period of rapid expansion of the Zionist training site network in Poland. I came together with a group of thirty people. It was the first detachment of “Hasadan” (the Anvil) the Training Kibuts of Shomer Hatsayir, its members from Vilna and its vicinity, whuch contained also Rakov my natal village. We arrived, a group of youngsters at the age of eighteen-nineteen, on a cold winter day in a horse harnessed sled.

The Hakhshara was lodged in a small house near Polak's sawmill where we worked to earn our piece of bread. The Hakhshara house contained a small dining room, a kitchen and a bedroom common to all of us. It was impossible to put forty beds in a so small an area. We installed two surfaces along the room's length, one over the other, made from boards. It served us as a long common two-story sleeping bed. We did sleep very densely, young boys and girls, but as well as I can remember the behavior was irreproachable, compatible with the Shomer Hatsayir spirit.

We were young girls but our work was very hard. However we did not grouse. It was our way of life, we wanted it and chose it. At the sawmill we gathered the saw dust (so called opilki) from under the sawing machines, put it into sacs and dragged it on our shoulders to the saw-dust hill where the sacs were emptied to repeat the cycle anew.

The other frequent job was the dragging the fall-out from sawing the boards sides (so called obrezki). We pulled it in bundles shaped as long besoms with the ends dragged upon the soil.

Some days we we arranged the sawn boards length and width into high quadratic towers. Another manner of bread winning was wood cutting. We would be rented by shtetl house owners to saw wood lumbers to pieces 15” length and then to cut the short but thick pieces to make them suitable to be put in oven. It was hard work in the shtetl courtyards. The price of our work was very low, and there were days we were unemployed.

No wonder our nourishment was poor: bread, potatoes, tea and potage. Our most preferred dish was fresh black Russian bread and we will remember our benefactor, Hirshl the baker who let us have his good and so tasty bread in never ending credit.

Not only the Baker, most of Volozhin inhabitants received us in a friendly way and tried to help. I was sent to the more wealthy houses as a “seamstress“. I had to cut material and to sew underwear. But my experience in this work was almost zero and I did more dammage than was useful. Despite this my employers were gentle, did not reprimand me and paid my fee.

We were proud with our hard labor and of the style of common life. We were pedantic about guarding the rules of equality.

We had our leisure culture: Singing in common for long hours, reading, typical Kibbutz conversations, and walking around the Shtetl.

We had a frightful experience in common with the town inhabitants. A Volozhin Jew was murdered on his way to a nearby hamlet. The bandit was caught. All of us we went to see his execution by hanging. Until now I can see the drama: The green meadow, the hangman dressed in black, the sun in the skies, the brigand without expression led to his death and the stool overturned from under his feet.

A murderer had been punished. Who will revenge the innocent blood of the thousands of Volozhin Jews? Who will punish their murderers? How can we imagine Jewish Volozhin without Jews?

 

vol422.jpg
Hashomer Hatsayir in Volozhin 1934

Standing from left to right: From Vilna, Gitl Rapoport, Avrom Perski, Yokh Dolgov, From Vilna
Sitting: Itskhok Kaplan, Leah, From Vilna, Hinda Rudnik, From Rakov, Rohl Perski
Sitting below: Mordkhe Eli Guirson, Elta Horodishtsh, Eliyahu Naroshevitsh


[Page 425]

Keren Kayemet L' Israel (JNF) in Volozhin

By Benyamin Shapir (Shishko), Karkur, Israel

Translated by Naomi Gal

Donated by Anita Frishman Gabbay

Activities for JNF[Jewish National Fund] in Volozhin was an important part of the Jewish life in the city. The building of the “Tarbut” School with the blue–and–white sign, reminded the citizens that their homeland is in Zion. One could feel the Land–of–Israel ambiance in this building. Whoever went in – be it a child or an elderly person – were partners in the revival and for Aliyah for the Land of Zion. Between the walls of this house each “circle” found its own corner. “Halutz”, “HaShomer–Hazair”, “Betar” –they were all in the same home. Points of view were different, but the common ground turned them all to one family – the family of Zion's sons.

The JNF council, under the direction of Rabbi Israel Lonin (presenting

 

vol425.jpg
The Bazar's committee (“The Market”) of JNF on 9–10 July 1933

Standing (right to left): A. Moshe Skelyots, B. Polia Farver, C. Lea Kivilevitz, D. Yaakov (Yani) Gerber, E. Gittel Kline, F. Eliezer Maz'a
Sitting: A. Hannah Rogovin, B. Yaakov Lipsitz, C. Sara Yezgor, D. Onya Rubin (Kahanovitz's son in law), E. Rikla Shafsnovel, F. Haim Stkolshik
Sitting on the floor: A. Michael Perski, B. Rachel Rogovin, C. Yosef Schwartzberg

[Page 426]

the city's Hamizrahi”), included members of the General Zionists, “Zeirai–Zion”, “Haalutz”, Betar, “Hashomer Hazair” etc. The meetings took place on Saturdays, in the “Tarbut” School building. These meetings were Shabbat's Oneg (Pleasure) of Volozhin's Jews, craving redemption. Whoever saw R' Israel Lonin walking, after a Shabbat's nap, to a meeting of JNF, his face illuminated, relaxed, as if he had a revelation – would understand the secret for the existence of the people of Israel.

True, we were in the diaspora, but we lived as if our bodies were in the west while our hearts were in the east. The work for JNF was our daily nourishment, each student of the “Tarbut” School had a saving notebook where JNF stamps were glued. In every house hung a blue–and–white box in which the family members inserted their contributions to redeeming the homeland. Once a month on Shabbat they used to plan the emptying of the boxes. Couples from all “circles” and movements volunteered for this sacred endeavor and fulfilled the Mitzva to sacrifice to God at the beginning of the month.

The Rosh Hodesh in Volozhin was a day of the Land–of–Israel for all the city's Jews. The volunteers who came to empty the boxes were welcomed cordially. In every wedding hall they would sell, between dances, Zion flowers, money that was consecrated to redeeming the Land–of–Israel.

Lag BaOmer was majestically celebrated by us. Zion flags were held in the hands of the “Tarbut” students who walked in rows to the summit of “Bialik Mountain” (the mountain is in the eastern part of the city. They say that Bialik wrote

 

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