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[Page 568]

Chaim Wajnrajch, z”l

by Zanwel Fisz (Paris)

Translated by Avi (Abram) Stavsky

Chaim Wajnreich, born in Zawiercie, came as a youth to Dąbrowa to learn the tailoring profession from his father, Berel Kanarek. Deft with his hands, he learned the trade quickly, but he did not take to this willingly. He would study and learn until late evening by a flickering light, educating himself about sociology and Marxism. He was greatly admired by all his friends and would participate voraciously in all discussions and conversations, and asserted his political views to all who asked. He [therefore] fell under police suspicion. After his military service, he went off to Belgium and set himself to higher education. He took an active part in the political life of that country. In 1933 he was expelled [from Belgium] and began residence in France. Almost as soon as he was established there, he involved himself with those from Zagłębie who were assisting political refugees arrested from Będzin and Piotrków. He remained active in this until the outbreak of the war. When the war reached France, he was among the first who volunteered to defend their second fatherland. He soon joined the defense forces, and because of his military experience, was quickly sent to the front lines against the enemy. With a weapon in his hand, he fell in battle in May, 1940, on one of the battlefields, at age 35.

His body was brought to Paris and he was buried in a local cemetery, in an area reserved for foreign volunteers who fell for France.

May his memory be for an honor.

The Rudoler family

by Josef Piwniczni (Nitzani)

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

Chanina Rudoler z”l was a resident of the suburb of Łabędzka, in which individual Jewish families lived. Of them three are known: The Rechnic family, the Ajzenman family and the Rudoler family.

Reb Chanina was a Jew who was observant and maintained tradition. He was a naive man, honest and simple, without any pretensions. As a loyal member of the Jewish community he donated willingly, whatever he was able, to all the philanthropic societies in the town. During the period that there was no minyan [prayer meeting] there, Reb Chanina z”l traipsed to the Dębniki neighborhood, a distance of three kilometers, in order to pray with the minyan in the Bet Midrash [Yeshiva] of Efraim Śiwek z”l. For him it was a necessity of life, from which he drew his spiritual strength to withstand life's hardships.

Like most of the Jews of the time, he was the owner of a convenience store, from which he made an honorable living. During the weekdays then, he struggled and toiled, in order to supply the goods needed for the store, whilst his wife looked after the customers and took care of the needs of the home and the children.

[Page 569]

The Shabbat [Sabbath] was holy for the spiritual food of the “over soul”. A day that was completely devoted to rest, to the children's problems and a little enjoyment from this world.

He educated his sons and daughters in a traditional manner. He endeavored to instill his sons, Aron z”l and Jakob, long may he live, with religious education from the best scholars. And if he wasn't able do this, it was because the conditions at the time. He sought to find educated men, from the best families in the town, for his daughters. It should be noted that his son-in-law was Cwi Rechnic z”l, who was a decent, gentle and good spirited Yeshiva student. He was a Hassid of the Rabbi from Kromołów.

All of the Rudoler family, apart from the son Jakob, were killed in the Holocaust together with all the Jews of Dąbrowa, may G-d avenge their blood.

His son Jakob managed, with the help of Aryan papers, to extricate himself from the claws of the Nazi beast and stay alive. He made aliyah and lives today with his family in Holon.

Chaim Lewi (Chaimel)

by Juda Londner

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

In the street he was called “Chaimel”, an affectionate name being that he was a man of the people, a man involved in the life of the society and worked for it.

Chaim Lewi z”l and his wife Malka z”l arrived in Dąbrowa Górnicza in 1920 from the town of Zabrze, from a religious home. His father was a grain merchant, he took care to endow his daughters with childhood education from the best Torah teachers, and when he was older he also studied in a yeshiva. This study provided good provisions for this journey in life, in his struggle with the Poles on the right of a “little” Jewish man to live and exist. He spoke excellent, fluent Polish, accompanied with the idioms of this language, of the street and also of the higher classes. Since his father was a grain merchant from Zabrze, he knew that it wasn't enough to endow the boy with knowledge in Torah, rather he needed to be equipped with a general education, and hence he sent the boy to a Polish commerce school. This education, in addition to the traditional education, formed his personality.

Dąbrowa in the year 1920 was beginning to be organized as a kehila [community]. Political parties and organizations fought for their right to be represented in it. Chaim Lewi was just beginning to be financially stable. During a later term he was elected as representative of the tradesmen and minor traders, and in this position he came in contact with the town administration, and was known as a very active man in this field. More than once these connections determined the fate of many Jewish families, whether they were poor or rich. In particular he helped minor tradesmen in distress who didn't have a permit be self-employed workers, or minor traders who were occasionally fined for the misdemeanor of trading at forbidden times. He prevented the detention in jail of Jews by the authorities for not paying civic taxes or failure to carry out civic laws because of a lack of money.

Being that he spoke fluent Polish, and was a good lecturer, he represented the Jewish community at mass Polish rallies as their spokesman. As a representative of the “little” man in his hardships he always had to remove obstacles that the authorities placed in front of him, and often anti-Semitic anger was directed at him because of his proud defense of the Jews, and he was called “Hartosh's righteous man” (the rabbi in the monastery).

dab569.jpg [12 KB] - Chaim Lewi (Chaimel)
Chaim Lewi (Chaimel)
a public figure

When he traveled in the train in his public position he was attacked by unknown anti-Semites who planned to kill him, however he foiled this plot and gave them a “double portion” so that they would remember and wouldn't attack him again.

He took care of stabilizing the cooperative Jewish Bank, which was mainly a bank for tradesmen and minor traders, who were assisted with loans at a low interest rate.

[Page 570]

When they couldn't pay he deferred the payment to a later date. He served as the deputy bank manager.

In 1937 he was elected as a representative in the town council, however he didn't serve in this position for long, because of the invasion of the Germans.

On Sabbaths and festivals he went in front of the Holy Ark. His pleasant voice and his childhood education assisted him and presented him a place of honor amongst the worshippers.

In spite of his public activities he did not neglect his family. His main concern was for the education of his children, all of whom were born in Dąbrowa. He gave them a traditional as well as a general education. His family consisted of four sons and one daughter, the eldest. She was a talented and pretty girl, and a number of times it was said of her in Christian circles, who didn't acknowledge the beauty of Jewish girls, that she was too beautiful to be Jewish.

She was sent to Auschwitz and following a bout of typhoid fever she passed away in the camp. Her fate was similar to that of her brother Szlomo: two days before the end of the war he was murdered by the Germans on the death march in the Blechman [?] camp. Her brother Mosze aged seven was turned in by Poles, who informed on the Polish family that hid him in the cellar of their home.

Juda (Levach) survived and lives in Israel, and the two brothers Lajzer and Heniek live in the USA. Chaim Lewi z”l and his wife Malka were taken to Auschwitz where they were killed.

Chana (Andzia) Szwajcer, z”l

by Juda Londner

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

She came to the Hashomer Hatzair center during the interim period, when the founding generation didn't accept the premises of hagshasma atzmit [self realization]. A young group had yet to form in order to be an influencing and appealing factor for the Dąbrowa youth.

dab570.jpg [12 KB] - Chana Szwajcer
Chana Szwajcer
in her youth and longing for Eretz Yisrael,
killed by the Nazi murderers

She personified good and beauty, and added a tangible touch to the dreams of the youth.

Youths from all levels were attracted to the center, coming without knowing exactly what was expected of them. One thing they knew: that the center fulfilled the desires and aspirations of youth. For this reason Chana was also attracted to the center.

Her father was considered in the town as a religious Zionist, and popular in his surrounds. He gave his daughters a typical Polish education: they studied in the Polish gymnasia and their day to day language was Polish. It seems that the religious Zionist home of her father had a greater influence on Chana than the rest of her brothers and aroused a spark in her of belonging to the Zionist organization.

She didn't go by herself to the center: A group of girls came together with her who studied with her in the Polish gymnasia, and their lifestyles were different; they spoke only Polish and thought in terms of the Polish society. And a miracle occurred: After a short time in the center, we are revealed a Chana, who is pretty and friendly, full of her Jewish stature, taking interest in Jewish problems, in poverty and the reasons for it, in particular she was fascinated by the stories of Eretz Yisrael, the heroism of “Hashomer” and personal sacrifice, and identified with them.

She became close to me because I was preparing myself for aliyah. It was from me that she heard the basic concepts of a working life and belonging to the family of workers. She didn't quickly digest these concepts: Whole evenings of discussions in the shadow of the Huta Bankowa chimneys, proved to her that there is something in these values.

[Page 571]

I made aliyah in 1932, leaving her with a spark of belief that she would some time also make aliyah, however she didn't know that during this period the aliyah was “illegal”, and considered by the British as trespassing.

When immigrants came later from our town, they told me that Chana is still waiting for a sign, and that she yearns to make aliyah.

Years followed years. Chana became tired of waiting and raised a family. The Holocaust that came upon Polish Jewry hurt her as well, and she so wanted to live; she did everything to avoid the bitter fate, however this chased after her incessantly. In one of the “selections” she ran away, with her daughter in her arms, and was shot to death.

She couldn't realize the aspirations of youth, you pretty and likeable Chana, you added so much beauty and appeal to your surroundings. May this article be witness that your name will be entwined with life in the land of Israel – that you weren't able to see.

[Page 571]

Chaja Plawes

by Shayke of Kibbutz Ein Hashofet

Translated by Jerrold Landau

How unique she was among us – and how integrated into our lives. From what power? In what merit did this young woman succeed in coming to us from afar – from afar in two senses of the term – to rebuild her life anew and to become a faithful partner in the building of our Kibbutz life?

Chaja came to us through her life energy. She exuded vitality and natural popular activity. She became known to us with her healthy sensitivity, and showed us the firm foundation of our way of life. She decided to establish her life anew on this foundation, after the atrocities of the war that conspired to put an end to them. Chaja was one of the survivors, of the several thousand who remained alive after the annihilation of six million of our nation.

Do we know the soul of these survivors? Do we know their lives, their essence, their desires? At a propitious moment, the heart opens to greet them, and then they are sevenfold dear to us. They are close to our hearts in the merit of the nation that they symbolize, but primarily in their own merit – the merit of the miracle of their lives at the light of the furnaces in which our dear ones were murdered, so dear to us and to them. They are dear to us in that they are only children, tortured children, pure sacrifices, whose lives were forged in the kiln of frightful experiences.

When a person such as this weakens, when Chaja, who passed through all these tests is cut off in the prime of her young life – there is no comfort over those afflicted by such blind fate.

There are people whose lives are complex. Chaja was not among them. She had a simplicity and straightforwardness of a person of the people, with her inside being like her inside. This is how she was in all her ways. She raised her life on high, to the eye of the sun, to the eye of the Kibbutz, with the content being – the family, Kibbutz, and labor. We saw her every day. She was a working woman, who got up early in the morning, was active and full of energy and diligence. These were the traits that exuded from her soul and body.

dab571.jpg - Chaja Plawes
Chaja Plawes, nee Grinwald,
1917-1953, died in Ein Hashofet

From where did she get all this?

When times are normal, we do not wonder about the ways of the individual. Here, however, we have unrolled the scroll, and the entire scroll of life is open to us from beginning to end.

[Page 572]

Chaja was raised in a traditional, religious Jewish home. We knew these homes from the cities and towns of Poland. It was a home of the people, rooted in the essence and culture of traditional Judaism. Even in manufacturing Zagłębie, in the mining district, in manufacturing cities, and in the proximity of masses of Polish and German laborers, such homes existed with their Jewish populist uniqueness, leaving their imprint on the life and economy of the city. They remained closed in their Jewish essence.

A Jewish home in the suburbs of a manufacturing city had additional signs of uniqueness, rooted in the poverty of the environment. Not only traditional Jews grew in the proximity of the people of the area. Simple folk, people of labor and trades, upright and straightforward, who did not merit to sit at the “eastern wall” also sprouted there. How imbued in the values of life was such a house, with its sublime atmosphere. The child and the young girl saw this during her early years, and these stood for her in all the trials of her difficult life. Only someone who lived in the ghetto and the camp can understand what Chaja endured during the years of the war. She was barely out of girlhood, and already worked in a German workshop in the occupied city. Years later, she spent time in a women's camp in Germany.

Here she displayed the power of her soul. Her powerful spirit stood for her during all the trials and tribulations that she endured. Despite everything, she displayed the ability to live the life of the camp – in honor. This young woman became a protector of her friends, some much older than her. Here, in our home, we realized her trait of concern for her fellow. In the camp, this was a unique phenomenon. Not many had the power to look after themselves, let alone others.

Chaja returned from the camp. She found her way to one of the two Jewish houses that existed in Dąbrowa after the war. That house was full of refugees, some who came from the camps and others from the forests. They were broken, sick people, ruined in body and spirit. It is no wonder that she became the head of the household there. She rolled up her sleeves, cleaned, cooked, and concerned herself with everything.

With the survivors of Dąbrowa, Chaja followed the path in which many of the last Jews of Poland, who survived and return to it after the Holocaust, went: They escaped again. This time not from the enemy, but rather from the desolation of life in Poland, bereft of its large, bustling Jewish community. The journey from the boundaries of Poland to Italy took a half a year, and this journey was full of twists and turns. There was much suffering. One had to sneak across borders during dark nights. Chaja paced her strong steps in the caravans of these escapees and clandestine immigrants, with a large heavy sack on her back.

She set her path for the future already in Italy. In Italy, she turned towards the Hashomer Kibbutz. This step of a religious girl, who had not been a member of any educational youth group before that, to go to not just any Kibbutz, but a Hashomer Kibbutz, was fateful for her. However, this was done with a clear knowledge of to where she must go, with the will to continue along with the survivors of this city, and the faith that social relations would be forged within the Hashomer Kibbutz – these were decisive. Indeed, our movement succeeded in reawakening the faith in life and humanity in the hearts of the youths who gathered around us. This faith forged the hope to create new life.

The final decision was of course to the Land. Chaja passed through a period of doubts and hesitation. Finally, she tied her fate to the Kibbutz. This decision was not set solely by ideological and political factors. This as a decision to forge a way of life, to forge independent life.

She was absorbed in the Kibbutz with her populist, natural manner. Here, she built a life for herself and for her partner in life. Her children were born, and she established a happy family, to which she dedicated the best of her vitality.

It seems that there was a test of the justice of our path and our existence here as Kibbutz society with the successful absorption of the Holocaust survivors. This was not one of the easiest of tests. Here in the land, on the threshold of the Kibbutz and within it, our paths separated from those of thousands of our charges whom we gathered in Poland, Germany, and Italy, and brought to the threshold of actualization. Even some of those who were members of the movement from their childhood, with political and ideological consciousness, did not reach us.

Chaja was among those who were absorbed in the Kibbutz. Without an ideological background in the Kibbutz movement and party, she decided what she decided for the sake of life. Can it be said that there is not the hand of chance even in this? Among the people who witnessed the Holocaust in their own flesh, there are those who learnt the truth on the foundation of ideology, from life, in a non-independent fashion. The hatred of fascism, the opposition to wars of oppression, the boundless love of their downtrodden nation, and their readiness to bear any sacrifice for it and for every individual Jew – these were the spiritual foundations and fundamentals that the best of them bore in their hearts.

These principles had their effect in Chaja's heart.

How good was it to know that it was good for her in our Kibbutz – and for us now.

Chaja fell victim to blind fate. A life full of energy and creative power was cut off. A happy family was left bereaved. A limb from the living body of the Kibbutz was severed. How can we find comfort? Our two hills

[Page 573]

face one another – the hill of living people and the hill of the cemetery. Both of them are woven into the reality of our life. Suffering is not lacking from our midst.

Her generation is going and disappearing. These people of the nation are passing on and will not come back, like Chaja, to the Kibbutz.

We will strengthen the children of the bereaved family. We will make it easier for them to renew their happiness in our midst – just as Chaja had done.

We lost a comrade, and a survivor. We will guard and respect her memory in our midst.

Pinchas Rozenblum (Puti), z”l

by Szlomo Bornsztajn (Kibbutz Ein Hashofet)

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

Born 16th of Tamuz 5671 – 11th July 1911
Died 28th of Iyar 5722 – 1st June 1962

At this time, more than in the previous, my thoughts return and I relive the past, and see as in a film the Reden neighborhood, in which most of the Jewish population was concentrated.

The neighborhood lived in a traditional lifestyle like most of the towns in Poland. A young generation began to sprout up within it, striving more and more to escape the usual stereotyped lifestyle. It was one that no longer saw a future in the traditional and narrow lifestyle of the neighborhood, and searched for ways and new ideas for the problem of the Jewish youth. The ears paid attention, and the heart was open to all that was happening in the world and in the area, and no power could stop it from heading in the direction of its goal.

In the 1930's it was not easy or simple to introduce their logic into the hearts of the parents, since indeed there was no getting round the traditional ways of the Jewish way of life, and the boys had to take a new direction. With all the sentiments and the connection of the Jewish home to Eretz Yisrael, the idea of pioneering and making aliyah was considered, more than once, as a family tragedy. Amongst the youth groups competing in our town, at the forefront stood the pioneering movements and the proportion of “Hashomer Hatzair” was considerably large. Amongst the youths who strove for a new world, to make aliyah, Pinchas Rozenblum was found, from a traditional and distinguished family in Dąbrowa.

From his earliest childhood we were connected one to the other and knew each other well. My thoughts returned to one scene that remains engraved in my heart, how this friendly and neighborly relationship became a movement connection for the next few decades.

I recall a group of young girls and boys, aged 14 to 15, holding their first meeting as a group in the center. We were in a blossoming forest and the group leader told us about the book of a famous Polish author, Zaromsky, and through the eyes of the author he opened up for us the character of the new society based on honesty and justice.

dab573.jpg [20 KB] - Pinchas Rozenblum (Puti)
Pinchas Rozenblum (Puti)

There would be no exploited and no exploiters, glass palaces would be built for the working man, a person would be free and proud and from this subject, as if it was obvious, he went on to talk about the communes in Israel, of the Jewish man in the future, who with his own hands would build his country, and the new regime within in it.

[Page 574]

It was this initial socialist idea that penetrated our consciousness, in a most convincing way, and from then on almost all the group went unified towards an expected future. It was my first meeting with Pinchas in the movement, and since then, for 35 years, till his last day, he stood by the dream of his youth.

He was amongst the first to make aliyah from Kibbutz Banir and his first steps he executed as a hired building laborer in Hadera. He learnt the building profession, built and founded houses for others in the hope that in the not too distant future, with the practical knowledge that he acquired, he would dedicate himself to the building of houses on the land when the kibbutz was settled.

He was amongst the first to settle in Juara and over the years dealt with others in the marking out of the plans for the settlement. With his own hands he built and founded the first houses in Ein Hashofet, and there, in spite of the wide experience he had accumulated in his profession, he was forced for various reasons to abandon the profession and change over to other work. Nevertheless over all the years he assisted and supported those who followed after him.

In spite of this, during these years, in his new profession, it was if he had sprouted wings: There was not a project within the field of his trade that he wasn't willing to contend with. Over the last years he initiated a number of large projects whose influence was dominant in many branches of the farm. Many of the members who didn't know him well, since he was introverted and modest in his ways, suddenly saw him in a new light.

The metal workshop, which served as a major artery in service to the branches, and the workers amongst them, brought him in contact with him with most of the members of the kibbutz. It seemed that there wasn't a member that know how to appreciate his pleasant manner, his patience to listen, his willingness to carry out any request, small or large. For this over the years he gained many friends and acquaintances, who knew how to respect and value his talents and good manners.

I cannot not talk about one event, which testifies like one hundred witnesses to his personality and personal traits: More than once I was present when Pinchas would leave any important work he was involved in and make himself available to listen to the request of a member who had come into the metal workshop at the time, and for the most part he would immediately carry out their request, or give the order to others to fulfill it. I asked him once how can he avail himself in this way to every supplicant and he replied in this way: “You know, there are members of the kibbutz that when they come into the workshop and request something from me, I carry it out immediately. They are very sensitive and any anxiety could harm their health”. These words were said in seriousness and in honesty.

The trait, of patiently listening and being considerate of one's fellowman, is a precious trait and of great value in our everyday life, and not many of us are blessed with this, and this was a guiding principle in all his deeds and activities. I will recollect Pinchas as a proud Jew, as a loyal friend steadfast to the kibbutz principles, maintaining his basic values and committed with all his heart to his home, to his family and the members in general.

When the time comes and the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will recreate the history of Ein Hashofet, and when once again the legend of the first days of the kibbutz will be spun, it will be “Puti” amongst the personalities that will be talked about in respect and admiration. A friend and a human being, who for all the years of the life till his last days, contributed a considerable and important part in the establishment of our kibbutz home on these green hills.

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