«Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Columns 442-443]

Assortment of Personalities in Zloczow

by Yekhiel Imber

Translated by Moshe Kutten

R' Shlomo Meites – was one of the figures that aroused respect and affection. He was a pious Jew and loyal follower of G-d. He would not miss fulfilling a commandment when he encountered an opportunity to do so. Furthermore, he looked for these opportunities. Shabbat was very dear to him. He would hurry up and prepare for it early. Later on Friday, he would go around the city and hurry up the shop keepers to close. Helping the poor, Hakhnasat Kalah [helping poor brides getting married], Kemkha DePaskha] a charity to help the poor before Passover] were close to his heart. When it came to charity, he was always the first to volunteer. More than anything else, he kept the commandment of hospitality. He was the one who helped the poor who happened to arrive at the city. He positioned himself at the entrance door of the synagogue at the end of the service. He did not leave until he verified that all the poor visitors would be divided among the congregation regulars and guaranteed a proper Shabbat meal. When some visitors could not accommodated by other worshipers, he would host them all himself and shared his Shabbat meal with them. He was not a wealthy man. He hardly made a living and had often supplement his income by being a “melamed. Despite being poor, he was always in a good mood. Those who have not witnessed him during the “Hakafot of “Simkhat Torah”, [encircling the synagogue with the Torah], with his euphoria and devoutness, which filled his whole being, have not seen supreme happiness in his life.

R' Shalom Shlomo Meites – was a refined young Torah learner and a scholar. He was blessed with a pleasant voice. He charmed the congregation of the Stratyn kloiz, where he used to pray, singing Zmirot [Hymns] during the holidays and on Shabbat during the “Three Meals”. When he sang, an uplifted atmosphere prevailed over all present. He sang while the worshipers were sitting around a long table, over a small piece of bread, the tail of herring, and a shot glass of schnapps (leftovers from a yahrzeit of one of the worshipers). His singing was like a medical potion for the bones, dry from the daily struggles. The worshipers drew consolation of his singing, and as a token appreciation, they expressed an exceptional affection for him. May his memory be blessed.

Lawyer Dr. David Werpel – was one of the distinguished Zionists in Zloczow. He served as the chairman of the United Israel Appeal committee. He was always diligently and persistently active and was mobilizing others. Thanks to him, the number of contributors reached its peak and included most of the city's Jewish population. He also invested a tremendous effort in instilling the Jewish youth with the Hebrew language. The Zionist movement was dear to his heart. He was the only one among the General [Non-aligned] Zionists who attended (and follow the progress tentatively) the conference of the [Zionist youth organization] “HeKhaluz” [“The Pioneer”] Movement [associated with the labor movement] when it was held in Zloczow. He always stepped forward to help the people making Aliya to Eretz Israel when they encountered difficulties imposed by the Polish authorities. His help was also substantial and recognized in other Zionist, municipal, social, and public matters. Among the city Zionists, he was the only one who traveled to Eretz Israel to tour it. He even bought an estate so that he would be able to make Aliya and settle in Eretz Israel in the future. He did not live to achieve that. His son, the only survivor of the family, inherited the estate.

Lawyer, Dr. Zygmund Meiblum – He was a man of action, not of speech. As such, he mastered enormous influence at the Histadrut [Zionist Organization]. When a polemic debate erupted about a particular matter, and it seemed that there was no solution, he would be the one who would come up with a reasonable compromise, as he was a person who had been blessed with a practical and logical sense. Nobody could resist his rationale and reasoning. He was the one responsible towards the authorities in all matters related to the Zionist Organization. He was responsible for ensuring that the Zionist Organization conformed to the rules (e.g. announcing about a gathering, balls, or shows). He served as a member of the municipality. His defense of the interests of the Jew of the city Jews was noble, productive, and admirable. His role as the chairman of the Judenrat during the Nazi regime was the most delicate in his life. It was so because of a great responsibility that was loaded on his shoulders. His anguish and torments in fulfilling that unfortunate role were enormous. He was tormented until the moment he paid with his life to save the lives of other Jews. May G-d avenge his blood.

Avraham Auerbach – was the son of an iron materials merchant and assisted his father's work. However, during his free time, in the evenings, Saturdays, and holidays, he devoted his time to the [Zionist] movement. Avraham was a member of “Hit'akhdut Tzeirei Tzion” [Youths of Zion Union] and one of its leading spokesmen. He shared his spiritual energy with his friends during each gathering and meeting.

Faibish Bernholz – was one of the leading activists of the “Hit'akhdut Tzeirei Tzion” [Youths of Zion Union]. He possessed a robust national spirit and a deep proletarian orientation. In that movement, he found the perfect merge of national aspiration and socialistic views. He influenced his friends and attracted many other people.

[Columns 443-444]

Shmuel Meisels – was a senior member of the “Hit'akhdut Tzeirei Tzion”. He was moderate and amiable. He was fully devoted to Zionist activism, particularly to the “Keren Kayement Le'Israel” [JNF], for which he volunteered his services as a treasurer. He devoted a lot of effort and time to that activity.

Ze'ev Zidenworm – was a member of the young age group of “Hit'akhdut Tzeirei Tzion”. He was endowed with musical talent and had a pleasant voice. He organized choruses and conducted one during public appearances. He entrained the Jewish public by selecting popular Jewish songs.

Dr. Tzvi Rosenboim – was one of the most enthusiastic fans of the national revival idea. Although he was not among the main speakers and speech givers, he served as the principal propagandist during the weekdays. He spread the Zionist idea, mornings and evenings, at the Beit Hamidrash [Synagogue and learning house] and on the streets. Any place he happened to pass by and see two or three Jews standing and talking, he would join and direct the discussion towards Zionism and making Aliya. He did not miss any opportunity to meet Zionist leaders such as Herzl, Weitzman, Sokolov, and Ussishkin. He listened to their speeches and heard from them firsthand about the revival idea. He was fully captivated by his wish to make Aliya and always dreamt about fulfilling his dream. When it came to a choice between attending to his business and a Zionist gathering, the latter came first. He was also a member of the Jewish school committee, and all of his five children – one son and four daughters, got their education in that school. Great was his joy when one of his daughters, Ester, was fortunate to fulfill his dream to make Aliya to Eretz Israel. She was also the only survivor in the entire family. She built a home in Israel – the home of Ester and Yekhiel Imber. However, he did not live to accomplish his dream. He died in 1934.

The Lawyer, Dr. Gustav Katz – was a popular captivating, and persuasive speaker. With his unique soft voice, he mourned the fate of his people and begged his audiences to pay attention to his reasoning. His words came from his heart and entered the heart of his listeners. While his Yiddish vocabulary was limited and was interspersed with words from the Polish language, it was rich in content and full of emotion and tenderness. That was how he managed to subdued the resistance of those who belonged to camp hostile to the Zionist movement.

Nathan Rekht – received a traditional [religious] education but was “captured” by the Enlightenment and Zionist movements, which went against his father's wishes. Even when he was still a learner at the Beit HaMidrash, he brought with him “external” literature, such as Hato'eh BeDarkhei Ha'Khaim” [“The Wanderer in the Paths of Life”], by Smolenskin, and “A'havat Tzion” [“Love of Zion”] and “Ashmat Shomron” [“Guilt of Samaria”] by Mapu. He would then drop the books on the laps of his friends at Beit HaMidrash. He left his home in 1921 and made Aliya. He was the first pioneer who did so from our city. The news about his tragic death spread quickly and sadden deeply everybody who held the idea of making Aliya dear to their hearts.

Yaakov Vilig – was one of the prominent figures at the General Zionists Union and the youngest among its leaders. He was tall and sturdy, with a fierce and assertive character. He disdained routine and mundane acts and the bragging about them, rather than acting practically and purposefully. He staunchly insisted on boldness and about making Aliya. In his speech, he was sullen like a river that cast out rocks. However, his style was not agreeable to other leaders, who preferred the methods of pleasantness and persuasion. Years later, when he assumed the leadership position, he vigorously began to organize the Zionist activities, assaulting all of the goals at once: the community, school, sports association, hospital, etc. However, he devoted most of his effort to activities related to Eretz Israel. At that time, the [non-affiliated] Zionists were split between General and Progressive Zionists. Yaakov Vilig was the leader of the progressive Zionists. His attitude towards the [Zionist] movement was exceedingly warm. Every pioneer, regardless of their party affiliation, received moral and financial assistance. Yaakov considered pioneering in the act of making Aliya the pinnacle of the Zionist activity in the diaspora. Despite being aware of the prevailing problems faced by the Jewish public in the city and the entire country, the Hebrew culture was the area that was dear to his heart, and there wasn't any major Hebrew book that was not available in his library. Those books were not for decoration but reading. The club of the “Ha'Ivria” [The Hebrew] organization was his creation, and he invested money, effort, and love to maintain it.

Dr. Yosef Guld – was an excellent physician who was respectable by the [Jewish] city residents. However, when he decided to turn to politics as the representative of the assimilators, most of the [Jewish] residents in the city abandoned him. Nevertheless, he was easily elected to the position of mayor. He won with the votes of the assimilators and the Haredim [ultra-orthodox] and through the support of the Poles. He was also elected as the head of the Jewish community and as the representative in the Austrian parliament. When somebody else won the parliament seat, he abandoned his public involvement completely but continued his adherence to the assimilation movement. However, the spread and crystallization of the Zionist movement after World War I undermined his views. He then began to retreat in the face of reality. In the end, amid the surging wave of Aliya, when financial means were needed, he expressed his willingness to participate by adding his “public standing” to the fundraising effort. He agreed to head the committee for aiding the pioneers, provided that the meetings would be held at the community house rather than a conspicuous Zionist club,

[Columns 445-446]

Zol445.jpg
The author, Shmaria Imber

 

because he feared the devil's eye. Guld's new views were a source of encouragement and satisfaction for the leaders of the Zionist movement and its activists.

Dr. Henrikh Tikhman – was the only son in a progressive family who received a purely secular education. He completed his studies in Vienna, where the national movement captured his heart. He returned to his native town as an enthusiastic and dedicated Zionist. He joined the “Zion Youth Movement” and became its leader. He was liked by all because of his modest conduct, gentle manners, and unwavering honesty. During the [Nazi] conquest, he was a member of the community committee. When the Nazis demanded that the committee complies with the “Jewish Quota”, he bravely announced that the committee would not provide the Nazis with any names. He paid with his life for his bravery. He was shot on the spot.

Feivel Reizer – was a member of the “Zion Youth Union.” He joined the “HeKhalutz” [“The Pioneer”] movement in 1923. However, his desire for life in Eretz Israel conflicted with the feeling that he could not withstand the harsh working conditions in Eretz Israel. That feeling was a result of his refined sense of criticism toward others and particularly toward himself. He feared that he would become a burden on society instead of helping to build the homeland. That feeling repressed his will and delayed his Aliya. He did not even consider doing non-physical work in Eretz Israel as he regarded that as parasitic work. In addition, he felt a responsibility towards his mother and his young brothers. He was, therefore, forced to continue his work as a clerk in the diaspora. He regretted his fate throughout his entire life. However, possibilities for a wide range of activities opened up for him when he joined the community steering committee as a secretary. In that role, he found a reward for his “parasitism”. He perished in the Holocaust.

Shmaria Imber – [Anan author who] made Aliya to Eretz Israel as a tourist, outwitting the British mandatorily authorities. He tried to work in construction in Tel-Aviv but was forced to move to Jerusalem, where he hoped to find better opportunities. Only after his family followed him to Eretz Israel, Shmaria established a source for a minimal livelihood. He was fortunate to see all of his four children making Aliya and establishing families in Israel.

Berish Glazer – left his wife and children in Zloczow and emigrated to Eretz Israel without any means to support himself. He began to work as a carpenter without having any previous training. However, he was fortunate to have supporters who were prominent in the community. He got a job in public and national institutions, so it was easier for him to make a living. He managed to bring his family to Eretz Israel and establish a sound and stable home.

Judge Diver – was a fascinated figure who could have absorbed the Zionist spirit, which was prevalent even among assimilated families. When I once left the house of Dr. Guld, the chairman of the committee to aid the pioneers, he stopped and said: “I desire to have my daughter learn Hebrew, and I would like you to teach her for an hour, every day. I would pay you any fee you would request”. Unfortunately, I had to reject that offer as I was too busy. I have regretted that decision for a long time. I could have probably saved a Jewish soul from being assimilated among the gentiles. Perhaps, Judge Diver meant to bring his daughter closer to her people…

[Columns 447-448]

Eliezer Bernstein – was a peculiar character in his manners, appearance, and way of life. His hair reached his shoulder, like a writer or an artist. He lived as a bachelor for many years, away from his mother's home. He wrote songs and poems. When he came back from the U.S., where he worked as a printing worker (where he lost a few fingers in his left hand there), he continued with the same way of life. He used his limited knowledge of the English language to make a living by teaching lessons to individuals and groups. His apartment, or more accurately, his room, served as a meeting place for youth who had a propensity for writing. Some of them acquired fame as Yiddish authors. He married, eventually, a young woman from Wrotslav [Wroclaw] who fell in love with him from afar through a narration of him.

Rabbi R' Eliezer Wagschal (R' Leizer) – resided in a modest house with a square yard in the middle of it. The house had five rooms, two of which were devoted to praying. The large one was for men and the small for women. A significant number of homes, owned by homeowners and their families, surrounded the house. These families provided Rabbi Eliezer with income. Many Jews, particularly women, who needed encouragement or “G-d's help” turned to him to pray for them. The Rabbi always found words of encouragement and comfort, and people who left him felt calmer and more assured that they would find salvation.

Rabbi R' Barukh (R' Barukh'l) – resided in a modest house built by his students down the Zlotsovska River. The location was prone to floods. During the tide, the house was unsuited for habitation. The Rabbi was “like a tree planted by streams of water” [Psalms 1:3] since the river split into two branches near the house. One of them led into the flour mill which was driven by the water. There was a derelict bridge, where people passed to get to the heart of the Jewish area where “Beit Midarishes” [“houses of learning in synagogues) and “kloizes” [a place of study for scholars] were located. When the river flooded, after heavy rains or after the snowmelt, the wooden dams, which were patched over and over every year, broke. The roaring and the tumulted water deviated from the channel designated for them by people and breached their boundaries as their turbulent nature pleased, licking with their tongue the rickety foundations of the clay houses. The flooding water caused devastation for the residents of that area. However, during the rest of the year, the Jews also knew how to enjoy the river. Firstly, the merchants raised their fish at the river in boxes built especially for that purpose. Since Rabbi Barukh blessed the fish, they followed the commandment: “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth” [Genesis 1:28], or in this case, the water. Secondly, During the “days of awe” – the holy days of Rosh Hashanah, the Jews would go down to the river to fulfill the commandment of “Tashlikh” [“Thou should cast (Tashlikh in Hebrew), all of your sins into the depth of the sea” – Mikha 7:19]. Thirdly, the laundry women would bring their whites to the river to wash them. The homeowners would save the expenses of paying the water carriers who drew water from the well and distributed them to the homes.

Rabbi Barukh himself was not wealthy. His heart was with heaven. He concentrated on the next world. However, those who saw him at the 1912 (or 1913) wedding of his daughter, which everyone - old and young, attended, realized that righteous and honest people could be rewarded even in this world. The Jews opened their heart and their pockets and gave him gifts generously. 

In his modesty, Rabbi Barukh his pure spirit over all of those who asked his help. For the despondent people, the Rabbi served as a source of comfort and encouragement.

Rabbi R' Yisrael Landau – When Rabbi Rohatyn passed away, the rabbinical position in Zloczow became vacant as there was no acting rabbi. The controversy that prevailed during the reign of Rabbi Rohatyn did not subside from the public arena [see article page 419] after his death. The leaders of the community and its activists were divided. The followers of various rabbis from different dynasties were also feuding. There were plenty of prominent candidates, but none were acceptable to all the factions, and confusion and embarrassment prevailed. Even the candidacy of Rabbi Shapira of Hlynjany [Gliniany], who later became a rabbi in Piotrkow [Pioterkov], the head of 'Agudat Yisrael”, and a representative in the Polish Sejm, was rejected by the people in power, despite his deep knowledge, his solid expertise, and exceptional skills. The damage caused to the prestige and good-name city by that rejection was enormous and was considered as a desecration of the honor of the Torah. The two rabbinical judges - R' Shmuel Shapira and R' Mendel Miller, who served as assistants to Rabbi Rohatyn in matters related to the Jewish law, could not be appointed to the position of a rabbi. The first was because he was too stringent in daily affairs and the other because of his flexibility in matters related to Jewish law.

As it happened, R' Yisrael Landau arrived at Zloczow and chose the Startyn Kloiz as his place of praying. He was an ingenious and honest man, pious and very knowledgeable about the Torah. He had a majestic appearance and aroused respect by his manners. The Stratyn Hasidim chose him as their rabbi. They hoped that other “Beit Midrashes” and “Kloizes” would follow suit. But that did not materialize. Only a small number of people followed him. However, more than he served as a rabbi, he became the center around which people gather and under whose light they would warm up on Shabbat and holidays. Some wealthy people among the rabbi's followers and Hasidism covered the expenses of his home and family needs.

The midwife Tzirel (Tzirel Di Babi) – was not just a midwife. She was much more than that. During those days, mothers did not give birth at the hospital. Tzirel served as the physician for the baby and the mother. Tzirel could have boasted that she helped deliver the entire Jewish population of Zloczow. She did not only help deliver the babies but also kept them in good health. She took care of the baby and the mother long after the birth. She watched over

[Columns 449-450]

the health of the mother. She taught the mother how to take care of the baby, how to diaper and wash the baby. Prominent people who captured important public positions were like children to her, and she would address them using the first-person pronoun – “You”. She kept watching over the baby for at least thirty days after the birth and would pay surprise visits beyond that if she suspected that anything was wrong. We could say about her what had been said about Khava [Eve]: “The mother of all the living.”


[Columns 451-452]

A Few Words about Writers and Poets in Zloczow

by B. Tzverdling

Translated by Moshe Kutten

During the enlightened period, the city of Zloczow has also been blessed with some intriguing figures deserving appreciation.

 

1) Naftaly Hertz Imber (1856 – 1909) - was a Jewish poet who was born in Zloczow. After wandering around through several cities in his homeland he moved to Romania and then to other countries. During 1882 – 1887, Imber settled in Eretz Israel, and later on, he moved to England, where he won great respect. He was close to [Israel] Zangwill. From England, Imber immigrated to the USA and died in New York. He was the author of “Ha'Tikva”, the national anthem of Israel.

The first collection book of his poems, “Barkai” [“The Morning Star”], was published in Jerusalem in 1886. Another collection of his writings was published in Tel Aviv in 1929, on the fiftieth anniversary of the poem - “Ha'Tikva”. Yet another collection of his poems was published in 5706 (1945/46) [According to Israel National Library (INL) it should be 5711 or 1950].

When he made Aliya to Eretz Israel, he immediately felt the new national momentum. His poem “Rishon Le'Tzion” [literally - “First to Zion”], was a cheer to the work and toil burst from a rejoiced heart which was witnessing the national “salvation and transformation”. Here is a section from his poem:

How the times have changed
Like wheels going and coming…
Stomp, stomp on the grapes in the vat
The wineries are filled with their juice…
He did not become acclimated in Eretz Israel, as the diaspora gnawed away at his roots with no cure. The poetry about the work and toil in the homeland, silenced in the diaspora. His bones were later brought over to Israel.

 

2) Shmuel Yaakov Imber - born in 1889 in Zloczow. He was the son of Shmaryahu - the brother of Naftali Hertz Imber. He was a Yiddish poet. He published several collections of his poems (one of them about his impressions of Eretz Israel). The influence of the best German and Polish poetry is apparent in his poetry. He edited several journals and fought against the “Collective Modernism” in the Yiddish literature. He published literary research about Oskar Wilde.

 

3) Israel Yehuda Teller - born in December 1839 [According to INL, he was born in December 1835 and died in 1921].

 

4) Tzvi Eliezer Teller, born in 18 July 1840.

They were both born in Zloczow and were among the Enlightened Movement pioneers in our city.

Israel Yehuda Teller was a grammarian and linguist. He published poems in newspapers and literary supplements. He published them all in a special collection - “Hegion Lev” [“Logic of the Heart”] in 5673 [1912/13. according to INL - 5663 or 1902/3]. The rest of his publications included: “Otzar Balum” [“Overflowing Treasure”], Jaffa, 5682 [1921/22. 5680 or 1919/20 according to INL], “Binah Be'Toldot Avoteinu” [“Wisdom in the History of our Ancestors”, Jaffa, 5676 (1915/16)], and “Ben Oni” [“Son of My Strength”], Jaffa, 5672 [1911/12/5674 (1913/14) according to INL], in memory of his son, Yehuda, who was a teacher in Rekhovot and died at the age of 24.

Tzvi Eliezer Teller translated to Hebrew the play “The Jews” by Lessing. The translation was published in Vienna in 5641 [1880/81]. He also wrote the biography of the preacher from Lviv, Bernhard Löwenstein - “Shem Olam” [“Everlasting Name”] (Krakow, 5649 [1888/9]). As an author, Tzvi Teller was a typical enlightened, who considered literature as a mean for preaching and teaching.

 

5) Moshe Leib Halperin - was a Yiddish poet who was born in Zloczow in 1886. He died in New York in 1934. He was one of the best Yiddish poets.

 

6) David Shretznel - was born in Zloczow in 1897. He published a collection of poems by the name of “Oisen Hartzen” [“From the Heart”, Psalms 31:13].

 

7) Moshe Pitznik” - was born in 1895 in Zloczow and published a weekly there by the name of “Folks Blat” [“Folklore Paper”]. He was interested in folklore. He translated to Yiddish Homer's Odyssey with commentaries. He also published two novels in old Yiddish: “Rav Kalman Ani” [The Poor Rabbi Kalman”], and “Moshe Kabtzan” [“Moshe the Beggar”]. The novels dealt with topics from the Enlightened period.

 

8) Yaakov Mestel - was born in Zloczow in 1894. He completed his studies in the teachers' college in Lviv and became a teacher. In 1918, he immigrated to the US and was accepted to the theater of Morris Schwartz. He authored the poem “Shir Milkhama” '[“A War song”].


[Columns 453-454]

Naftali Hertz Imber,
the Poet of “Ha'tikqva”

by Yaakov Meizlish

Translated by Moshe Kutten

The life of the poet, essay writer, and author of “HaTikva”, Naftali Hertz Imber, a native of Zloczow, was filled with oddities and contradictions. A lot was written about Imber and his work. Some of the things were real and some were speculations and the fruit of the imagination. However, there many things in the life of Imber authentic and fascinating, which were never published. Anecdotes told about his childhood and youth in his native town of Zloczow are particularly compelling. Such tales are particularly intriguing when they are being told by people of his generation and age.

The news about the Turkish-Russian war in the second half of the 19th century attracted the interest of the Jews for several reasons: The first was political. There were many Jews who possessed vigilant and ebullient political awareness. The second was that any political change resulting from war could affect the Jews, directly or indirectly. Some of the times for good and some of the times badly. In any case, the interest in the happenings in that war was considerable. News from the front would not arrive on the same day, like in our time. They usually took days, weeks, and even months to be disseminated. People got their information from news and reviews published in weekly and monthly magazines after many transfigurations. However, that in itself did not detract from their value. On the contrary, People treated appreciated that kind of information and news better than the information or rumors circling around on the same day.

A person who was a fan of the Hebrew language and literature found out that the eight-year-old child, Naftali Hertz, was writing many poems. That person embraced the child and persuaded him to write his poems about the state of the warring troops on both sides. Many years later, that person often revealed how that young child succeeded to depict the events poetically, with incredible clarity using coherent and fluent language.

There was once a case when the whole city panicked because of the youth Naftali Hertz. A gendarme appeared one day in the market square, where all the Jewish trading stores and shops were located, and asked to see a man named N. H. Imber. Seeing the gendarme cast fear and panic over the entire city, including the none-Jews. Some brave people responded to the gendarme. They claimed that, as far as they knew, there was no person in town is named N. H. Imber. The gendarme ignored what the Jews told him and insisted that the wanted man be brought up to see him. They repeated to say that, although there are several people whose name is Imber, there is nobody, in that large family, with the initials N. H. They told him that there was a person by that name once, but he passed away fifteen years ago. The gendarme weighed these explanations and inclined to believe the Jews. He returned to the district bureau and reported the results of his investigation. The bureau official told the district minister, but the minister did not accept it. He called the gendarme and yelled at him angrily that it was not possible that the person does not live in the city. The gendarme went back to the market square and burst into the first shop owned by a person by the name of Imber. He told him forcefully that all the people named Imber would be arrested if the person is not found within two hours.

The Imber family members cried and swore that there is no N. H. Imber among them. However, when the gendarme insisted and repeated his demand, fear descended over the entire city. “A cruel decree, blood libel”, people pleaded. When everything looked hopeless, one of the Imbres came out with an idea: “Let us go the birth record office and check in the records if there was a person by that name”. The gendarme agreed. The two went to the office – followed by the entire city. They conducted a thorough investigation until they found the name of Naftali Hertz Imber. However, that person was a nine-year-old child. The gendarmes, who eagerly wanted to end the whole matter peacefully, said: “Fine, bring me that baby”. The child's parents shuddered: “Who knows what they are plotted against the child?” They were afraid that the child pulled off one of his pranks, and the authorities would have them and the child pay for it. They found him after a thorough search, immersed in playing with his friends. His father gave him a piece of his mind as an advance.

 

[Column 455]

Zol455.jpg
Naftali Hertz Imber

 

When the people gathered in the big magnificently furnished hall of the city hall, they anticipated that the whole community would be condemned by the high court. They had already visualized a whole list of sins and crimes that would be hurled at them. They already physically experienced the hardship of the sentence. They did not have the time to contemplate much before everybody was led to another lounge, seven-time more beautiful than the first one. The gendarme took the youth and presented him to a big entourage. The mayor stepped forward towards the boy, bowed, and read aloud from a document, praises in German. He then shook the boy's hand ceremonially and repeated verbally the praises sent to him by His Majesty the Emperor.

Neither the boy nor his parents grasped what ceremony was all about. When the matter became clear, everybody breathed a sigh of relief.

Naftali Hertz Imber wrote a poem and dedicated it to Emperor Franz Joseph (that was the now-famous poem “Austria” or “Beit Tefilati [“My House of Prayer”], which was dedicated to the Austria-Prussia War. Imber received a prize for that poem). Upon receiving it, the court minister gave the poem to the Hebrew poet Meir Halevi Letteris, who translated it to German.

The Emperor sent the little poet a greeting card with a prize. That prize helped the poet, later on, to reach the city of Brody, which served as the spiritual center for the Jewish enlightened in Galitsia. From Brody, Imber went to Lviv where he stayed for a short while. In his travels, he reached Vienna, Romania, the Balkan countries, and Istanbul. He finally arrived in Eretz Israel, a place he was longing from the time of his youth. It was during these wanderings that he wrote the poem “HaTikva”.

[Column 456]

Naftali Hertz Imber was an eccentric and bohemian person almost throughout his entire life.

To end the article, I would like to review some of the additional anecdotes, told about him.

During his life in America, he was known as a poet and author of articles in different Hebrew, Yiddish, and English magazines. He wrote papers and also essential research articles on religion, philosophy, and Kabbalah matters. A magazine article was once returned to him, and the editor reasoned the rejection by claiming that it would not be of interest to the readers. Imber was deeply hurt and left the magazine editorial office in protest. A week later, the magazine received a telegram from a distanced city that Naftali Hertz Imber passed away. The editor, who was shocked to hear the news, published a lengthy article in which he eulogized the great poet and essayer who passed away before his time. He listed his praises, one by one, and even translated some of the poems and published them in the same magazine issue. Several days later, Imber appeared at the editorial office holding the eulogy issue. He confronted the magazine editor and proclaimed: “Here is standing, in front of you, the poet and essayer, whom you so -highly praised, and the one whose latest article you had rejected”.

Naftali Hertz Imber's childhood took place during a time of strife between parents and their children. The youths were attracted by the enlightened movement, which revolved around the revival of the Hebrew language and its literature. “Shomrei HaKhomot” [“Watchmen of the Walls” – religious conservatives) considered that movement a breach in the fence of the Jewish tradition and religion. They did everything they could to stop the fire from spreading and swallowing the Jewish home to its foundation. Things reached the point that they even considered the studying of the bible unfavorably. They considered it as the elegance of language and the trilling of speech and writing. They also despised the teaching of Hebrew grammar and proper pronunciations claiming that the main objective in praying was about the intention or meaning and not the language.

In that vein, a story was told about Naftali Hertz. One Friday evening, when the family sat at the table, and the head of the family was about to begin the Kiddush [blessing over the wine], they found out that Naftali Hertz was missing. They looked for him in all the rooms and corners of the house. They even went outside, called his name, and looked for him. The boy was nowhere to be found. The father controlled his anger and sadness and pore the wine. When he was just about to begin the citing the “Kiddush”, the “takhshit” [literally – jewel, but used to sarcastically call a young prankster] appeared holding a rooster in his hand. When he saw that “Kiddush” was about to begin, he hurried up and placed the rooster

[Columns 457-458]

on the table. The frightened bird spread its wings and began to wiggle and run around. It snuffed the candles, spilled over the wine, and flew outside through the open window. The family members were terrified and astonished at the same time. However, they restrained themselves as it was forbidden to shout on Shabbat. The father poured the wine again, blessed over the wine in the dark, washed his hands, and everybody sat down to eat the Shabbat meal like a grieving family. The only thing the father did was to order the boy to go to sleep without eating.

The following day, when the father calmed down a bit, he asked his young child why he brought the rooster home.

“To bless over the wine”, answered the child.

“To bless over the wine?” wondered the father, “does a rooster know how to say “Kiddush?”

“And you?” answered Naftali Hertz with a childish hutzpah. “You too does not know how to do it properly, but you do it nevertheless” …

That was the child's way to protest against his father, who did not pronounce the Hebrew language correctly.

The poet was born on Shabbat Hanukkah, 5617 (1856), and passed away on Simkhat Torah, 5670 (1909).


[Columns 459-460]

Dov Ofer, The Pioneer from Zloczow

by Levi Ofer

Translated by Moshe Kutten

I remember well the image of my brother Dov, who was murdered in Israel forty-two years ago, as he went on a movement's mission. He was only twenty-two years old. According to eyewitnesses, three Bedouins robbers attempted to take off his shiny boots, but Dov preferred death over surrendering to the foreigners on his land, which absorbed his blood. That was at the start of the Third Aliya. The words “Dov Ofer, murdered 1 Elul 5680 [15 August 1920]” are etched on his gravestone in Kvutzat [small communal settlement] Kineret.

Dov was an unusually developed child. His talents spread over many different areas. He was often asked, what he wanted to become when he grew up. He answered: “Israel's King”. He was then only four years old. When he was nine years old, he solved complicated mathematical questions. When he was ten years old, he could recite, by heart, an 80-page long poetry book. He was also interested in music and art. His teachers said they could talk to him like an adult. His teachers envisaged a bright future for him.

He joined the Zionist movement while being a student in the Polish high school in Vienna, Austria's capital. He became one of the pillars of the “HaShomer HaTza'ir” [“The Young Guard”] movement. His articles in the magazines left a great impression.

Our family returned to Zloczow at the end of the First World War. Dov started the work on establishing a branch of the youth movement immediately after we moved. After a short period, the “HaShomer Hatza'ir's” battalion in our city was one of the largest and the best organized in Eastern Poland. The heads of other youth movements admired Dov as a great young leader.

Dov devoted most of his time to the movement, but at the same time, he did not neglect his education. His library, which occupied a whole room in our apartment, was well known in our city. It contained old and modern Hebrew literature, classical and philosophical literature, many exact-and nature-sciences books, and books about Zionism and Eretz Israel written in foreign languages. He mastered five European languages and pure Hebrew at the age of sixteen. Prominent figures such as Dr. Avraham Sharon. Dr. Werfel, Dr. Kalman Shweig, and many others, came to meet him for valuable discussions.

Dov passed the matriculation exams with honors in 1918. Despite his parents' objection, he decided not to continue with higher education. Instead, he went with a group of friends to an agricultural Hakhshara [a training camp for people preparing to make Aliya]. Dov returned home after spending a year and a half at the farm of Rabbi Dr. Rapoport. When he returned, he spent all of his time in the “HeKhalutz” [“The Pioneer”] movement, for which he was elected as one of its representatives in Poland.

These were the days of revolutions. The Austrian empire disintegrated. The Poles and the Ukrainians fought against each other to rule Eastern Galitsia, and the Bolshevik Revolution took place in a far distance. Regimes changed hands often, and in the villages, the Ukrainians revolted and broke into our city from time to time, robbing and looting. The Zionist Union established a self-defense organization. The local authorities supported the organization and allocated 120 rifles and a machine gun for it. Indian officers took it on themselves to train and prepare the members. Dov Ofer headed the organization. He was only 18 years old at the time.

We were four brothers and one sister at home. Dove was four years older than me, but it seemed that he was at least ten years or more, older. We always stood before him trembling with respect. My father was very proud of his older son, although he tried to hide it somewhat. Dove used to argue with my mother about various problems, as she was an educated, book lover, and a devout believer. Her heart told her that Dov would leave one day and never return. She tried her best to stop his Aliya and delay his departure. She also tried to convince him. All of her effort were in vain. Eretz Israel pulled him. It was his life goal, and he devoted all of his dreams and life to it.

One day, my mother asked Dov: “What would you do if I lay on the threshold and would not let you go?” His answer was: “I would skip over you”. That was the answer of a son whose love for his mother and his homeland was strong.

Dov made Aliya in 1920 with a group of members and younger trainees. He did not sound very encouraged in his first letters, but he came to terms with his reality.

It would be difficult to describe the living conditions of those pioneers of the “Work-Brigade”, who constructed the road between Tzemakh [a road junction at the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee] and Tiberia. For some of the Brigade's members it was difficult to withstand the harsh conditions. However, when they looked at the inner piece exhibited by Dov and his devotion, the sufferings became a bit more bearable until singing erupted. He captured their respect and appreciation in a short period, but fate was cruel to him and put an end to his life,

[Columns 461-462]

a short and glorious life, full of purpose and doing. Undoubtfully, Dov was destined for great and sublime things.

I found out about Dov's death from a letter sent by Milek Golan. I was shocked by that letter. Fifteen years later, when I made Aliya, I returned it to the sender. In his letter, Milek described the circumstances around the tragedy.

Dov was summonced one evening to an urgent meeting. The way to the meeting location in Tzemakh led through hills descending into a wadi, not far from where the Kibbutz Degania Bet is today.. He left with two other members. All three held firearms.

One member told me that she asked Dov to postpone his trip until the following day, as dark had already descended. Dov responded that people were waiting for him and that the issue was important and urgent.

The group was attacked by Arab murderers above Kvutzat Kineret. Dov's two friends retreated immediately, leaving him alone. The murderers ordered him to take off his boots. He took out his gun, facing three rifles. His naked body was found the following day, following a horrific night.

My father found out about the disaster a short time before Milek Golan's letter. He kept it a secret, and so did I. However, my father could not recover from that tragedy. He faded from one day to another and finally was succumbed to the pain. My father passed away, taking his secret with him.

The horrible news reached my mother. It is hard the describe the effect of that news on her. It was a sad and dark period.

Later on, my mother devoted all of her time to praying. Every Friday, the day she received the horrible news., she fasted, placing Dov's picture in front of her. She had three basic questions: Was it really necessary to go during the night? Would Dov leave his friends the way they left him? Why did you leave home, my son? When I parted from my mother, I promised to bring her to Eretz Israel so that she could be buried near her dear son. I was not able to fulfill my promise. Khana Ofer was murdered by the Ukrainian Hjdmaks [kozak hooligans]. I can see my mother with Hitler's thugs accompanying her from both sides, bringing her to the gallows. According to the rumors, she did not reach it. They killed her with iron bars in the city's main street.

My mother held a Psalms Book murmuring: “My dear Dov, my older son, our souls will unite now”.


[Columns 463-464]

Dr. Avraham Sharon

By M. Deutsch

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Dr. Avraham Sharon (Shwadron), was born in the village of Binov, near Zloczow (Eastern Galitsia), in 1889. He was one of the sons of Rabbi Moshe Shwadron, or R' Moshe Binover, as he was called in Zloczow. Shwadron family attained greatness in the Torah and prominence. Rabbi Moshe would often walk from Binov to Zloczow, a distance of a few kilometers, to ask City Rabbi Yoel Ashkenazi about a Rashi's commentary he did not understand. Rabbi Moshe had a son who became a Luminary of the Exile – Gaon [genius] Rabbi Shalom Mordekhai HaCohen, a rabbi in Berezany, Eastern Galitsia. He was one of the Torah greats in his time, and rabbis in all of corners of the diaspora turn to him with their questions. His answers were short, and he always cited the source for his response. All of that without sophistication and argumentation. He was considered a great scholar, and all of the generation greats marveled his proficiency and memory. Dr. Avraham Shwadron was a student of his uncle, the Gaon from Berezany. He was known as a child prodigy, and the family was convinced that he would become the spiritual heir to his Gaon uncle. The Rabbis considered him a Rabbi and a teacher when he was fifteen years old. The father of Dr. Sharon, Rabbi Yitzkhak Shwadron, was a learned Jew and a talented merchant. He managed all the business of his family. Since he often travelled to Vienna for his business, he heard about Dr. Herzl and “his” Jewish State. He met Herzl, and also served as a representative to the Zionist Congress. His son, Dr. Avraham Sharon, aimed t being a Rabbi Gaon. However, Herzl said that the Jewish nation does not have a future in the diaspora, and Jews should return to Eretz Israel. Therefore, Dr. Avraham Sharon gave up on his plan to become a rabbi, and moved to Vienna. He passed the entrance examinations, was accepted to the university, and he continued his studies there. In the meantime, the first World War erupted and he was recruited to the Austrian army. He refused to become and officer. His rank was corporal. He returned to Zloczow at the end of the War. His father was not alive then, and the son managed the businesses together with his sister's son, Engineer Nusbaum. However, his heart was with Eretz Israel. When the “Keren Geula” [“Redemption Fund”] was announced, following the “Balfour Declaration”.


[Columns 465-466]

About the Image of Avraham Sharon

by B. Tzverdling

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Avraham Sharon Z”L was born in 1883 [according to other sources, he was born in 1878] in Zloczow, Eastern Galitsia. He was the son of an owner of a liquor distillery who was a descendant of a famous rabbinical family. The spirit of enlightenment prevailed in his home. His father, R' Itzikel Schwadron Z”L, was a prominent sociable figure and an enthusiastic Zionist who participated in all [Zionist] congresses.

Avraham Sharon Z”L was a publicist and a collector of autographs and portraits of prominent people.

Early in his childhood, He was known as a prodigy who sharpened his brain by studying Mishnah and Poskim. However, he was not content with that. He also studied chemistry at Vienna University and received a degree of doctor in philosophy.

At the end of the First World WarHe changed his surname to Sharon. That constituted a turning point in his life. He fought against the quarrels among the various parties and the splintering tendencies on the left and right. He stood out in his uncompromising position toward the Arab minority in the country. He called them “tomorrow's enemies” and demanded their expulsion from Israel.

He made Aliya after the First World War. He continued publishing essays and pamphlets, some of which were gathered in his book “Mishnei Evrei HaSha'ah” [“From the Two Sides of the Hour”]. His publishing activities continued, in various venues, until close to his death. He researched and acquired signatures and portraits of prominent religious, cultural, and scientific figures. Later on, he donated his collection, which included about 11,000 letters and autographs, to Jerusalem University. He always struggled to make a living and was content with very little. He detested the life in the diaspora and wished to educate the nation about a new spirit. He aspired to straighten the crookedness in the heart and brain and create order, regime, and framework.

He struck roots in Eretz Israel and remained loyal to the nation until his last day.

He passed away on the eve. of Simkhat Torah 5718 [1957] in Jerusalem at the age of 74. His death was caused by a car accident he was involved in a few weeks earlier. May his memory be blessed.


[Columns 467-468]

Dr. Tzvi Hirshhorn

by Shulamit Ofer

Translated by Moshe Kutten

The noble image of Dr. Tzvi Hirshhorn is standing before me, despite the many years that passed: tall and handsome with a sizable forelock and a smile on his lips. An exemplary Jew and Zionist who was ready to help the needy.

His home was a home of an enlightened, where Hebrew was spoken and the Jewish tradition directed the way of life and education of the three children.

More than anything else he captured the hearts with his willingness to help his people. Indeed, they needed his help during those antisemitic days. Nobody who turned to him for help ended up out disappointed. He always provided a handout, help, advice, encouragement, and fondness. The Christians recognized the greatness of his soul too, and respected him. He had connections with authorities, and he used them to help any person in trouble.

That was a period of regime changes between the Poles, Ukrainians, and Bolsheviks. There was a great deal of hatred among them and a lot of blood was shed. They had a common denominator – anti-Sedentism, murdering Jews, and robbing their property. Our city suffered tremendously from all of these evils.

I recall a calamity that befell our home during one of the pogrom's nights. Our father was sick, so we, then the children and our mother, hid in a hideout. The militia entered the house to arrest our father. When they did not find him, they took our mother, a single woman among many city residents . We remained dumbfounded, without parents and a robbed house.

There were rumors that the authorities would transfer the prisoners to Ukraine. We searched for a solution with very little hope. Help came from an unexpected source – Dr. Hirshhorn. He lobbied the authorities, endangering his freedom and life to help the prisoners. First of all, he asked to free the woman and mother to small children. He also visited our mother in jail and deliverd the first words of encouragement since she was taken from her home. He said: “They will not take you away from here. You will return home in two days”. Indeed, mother returned home. She and we never forgot what Dr. Hirshhorn did for us.

Dr. Hirshhorn died a short period after the war, still relatively young and in the middle of his dignified and benevolent way.


[Columns 469-470]

My Husband, Dr. Hirshhorn

by Mrs. Hirshhorn

Translated by Moshe Kutten

As one of the leaders, my husband was very active in Zionist and Jewish public affairs devoting all his heart to these activities. He participated in many gatherings where he delivered speeches explaining the Zionist ideology. He was also a member of various committees aiming at improving the Jewish cultural life in the city. As an example, he devoted himself to establishing a Hebrew school and worked hard to find

a proper venue for it, which until then wandered from one apartment to another. He was one of the most loyal assistants to Mrs. Belter, under the initiative of whom, the orphanage was established. The poor economic situation of the Jews following the First World War was well known. Many people left the city and immigrated to America. My husband headed the welfare committee established in the city. He devotedly and dedicatedly tried to distribute the fund fairly. His goal was to use the money constructively. The responsibility weighed on him. I remember the worries he had about the money before the arrival of the Bolsheviks in 1920. We both looked for hideouts in our apartment to hide the treasure.

We divided the cash under the darkness of the night. We hid it under the window panes, behind the stoves, and in the door frames. We both feared for the fate of the money and our own fate if the Bolsheviks find out about our “misdeed”.

When The Bolsheviks approached Zolochiv, a dire fear fell on the Jewish population, particularly on the upper layer. The city's honorable people hid and did not dare come out. However, caution did not help anybody. Many got arrested and their fate was never known. My husband was one of the few who walked around free. Without fear he tried to help his fellow citizens. His luck smiled upon him unexpectedly. In one of the high-ranked Russian officers, he recognized his childhood friend, whom he went with to the elementary school in Yezerna. Life separated them. That friend wandered around overtime to Russia, became a Bolshevik, and reached a high rank in the army. Both joyed when they met again after so many years.

They toyed with memory of their childhood and the friendship that tied them up once. With these feelings, the officer was willing to help my husband in his lobbying to help the Jews. Indeed, many of the prisoners were set free thanks to the officer's intervention, among them Mrs. Ofer. She did not forget that help. After the tragic death of my husband, she stood by me with advice and deeds, like a good and loyal mother.

The short invasion by the Bolsheviks, the spiritual and economic turbulence that followed, antisemitism, which increased in Poland more and more, lack of security, and other factors influenced my husband to mentally and practically prepare for making Aliya to Eretz Israel. Since he knew that he would not be able to work as a lawyer in Eretz Israel, he searched for ways to secure means that would allow him to make a living there. To accomplish that goal, he widened his practice, which was one of the best in the city, and accepted Dr. Shternshus as a partner. He began to prepare daring plans, based on which he hoped to secure those means. He paid a down payment on a piece of land in Bat-Yam, two weeks before his death, as the first step towards his Aliya.

However, everything was in vain when his life was cut tragically short.

 

«Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Zolochiv, Ukraine     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Max G. Heffler

Copyright © 1999-2022 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 8 May 2022 by MGH