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[Page 518]

Menachem Krycer
The resettler of Jewish immigrants

by Josef Piwniczni (Nitzani)

Translated by Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Menachem was born in 1901 as the oldest son of Balcze and Eliezer Krycer, the well known family in Dąbrowa. He had two sisters – Hela and Lala – and two brothers, Josek and Wowcze.

The Krycer family was well-liked by almost the entire Jewish population as being of the people, intelligent. Menachem's mother was particularly well known because of her profession – she was a midwife. This was actually enough of a reason to be popular during the first ten years of our century, when the hospital system in Poland was very inadequately developed. In addition to this, there really was a fear of going to the hospital, particularly among the Jewish population, because of the cold atmosphere there. And the service in the hospital was a Christian one and often not friendly. And there was also the problem of kosher food. All of the births of children took place in the home with the help of the midwife (only in rare cases was a doctor called to help) and almost all Jewish children were born with the help of Menachem's mother.

Balcze the midwife did not see her work as just a profession in order to earn money, but also as an appointment, an assignment to give the Jewish woman help during the difficult hours of childbirth. With her attitude and her talk, she also provided a physically calming effect on the woman giving birth. She often made sure that there was a little soup and a piece of chicken in the house of the poor so that the woman giving birth could get on her feet quicker.

Menachem was raised in this atmosphere of common intelligence and love of people. Without a doubt this had an influence on the development of his character and later course of life.

Mietek became an intellectual in the full sense of the word as well as a man of the people absorbed with Jewish culture. He felt it was his duty to convey education and knowledge to Jewish children and adults.

dab518.jpg [15 KB] - Menachem Krycer – the leader of HIAS
Menachem Krycer
the leader of HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society]
in Europe; later the instigator of “HIAS House” in Beersheba

Ruled by general, human ideals such as socialism, equality and brotherhood, he did not leave to serve strange gods, but stood in the service of his people.

Thus we see the young Mietek during the first years after the First World War 1914-18 – years of Sturm und Drang [storm and stress], of revolution, when it seemed that a new epoch was coming to Europe, of freedom and security for all.

[Page 519]

dab519a.jpg [21 KB] - Parents, sister and brother-in-law of Menachem Krycer
Parents, sister and brother-in-law of Menachem Krycer

Then we find him in the ranks of the Poalei-Zion Party based on [Ber] Borochov's theory that the problems of the Jewish proletariat could only find their redemption in Eretz-Yisrael.

[Page 519]

dab519b.jpg [19 KB] - Balcze Krycer, the first dedicated midwife in Dąbrowa
Balcze Krycer, the first dedicated midwife in Dąbrowa;
with her husband Eliezer

Menachem was active in the cultural realm with Baruch Szejnhaft, who became the speaker to the masses and organizer of the party and, by the way, was also elected as a councilman on the city council. He organized lectures and readings and created a library as well. However, Menachem was not satisfied with just spreading Yiddish culture among adults. In September 1921 he enrolled in a teaching seminar that was held in Krynki, near Vilna. He graduated from this course in November 1922. He returned to Dąbrowa to work as a teacher in Mizrachi School on the 3rd of May Street that was founded by, among others, Chaim Grycer, the then leader of Tzeire Mizrachi [Mizrachi Youth]. Menachem finally decided to fulfill the mitzvah [commandment] of personal fulfillment and emigrated to Eretz-Yisrael.

He arrived in the country in 1924. He was employed in heavy physical work and also suffered from considerable hunger. However, it did not have an impact on him and a day after heavy work accompanied by fever, he could be found with his group on the shore in Tel Aviv, dancing the hora until the late night hours.

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dab520a.jpg [30 KB] - A group of young people in the Polish military
A group of young people in the Polish military – comrades of Mietek Krycer

He was one of the founders of the group Trask whose task was to introduce a little cheerfulness and joyfulness and lift the morale of the idealists of that time who dreamed about an Eretz-Yisrael based on socialist principles, a contemporary settlement in which there was communal respect.

dab520b.jpg [14 KB] - Baruch Szejnhaft
Baruch Szejnhaft,
a representative of Poalei-Zion in the City Council

In 1926, when the economic crisis reached a peak in the country and there was total unemployment, the gentle Menachem literally suffered from hunger. This fact finds an expression in his two poems, written in March 1926. He writes among other things:

“Hunger has become my brother; I sneak out like an emaciated dog and look for a piece of bread and when night comes, I lay myself in bed and with my brother, hunger. I am satisfied that on my shoulders lies starving, skeleton days. I dance a hora with them, wildly carefree until the grey morning.”

In between, Menachem found work cutting stone and was so terribly injured doing the work that it was necessary to amputate his foot, so he decided to return to Poland to his mother.

In September 1926, Menachem left the country and returned to Dąbrowa. Disappointed and broken, he did not find peace of mind and decided to leave again, this time for Canada where his sister, Lala, lived. However, Menachem could not find his place here in Canada.

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