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Images I

Translated by Jerrold Landau

{All articles in this section are in Hebrew. The following is a translation of all articles in this section,
with the exception of “In the Line of Hashachar” by Dov Sadan.}

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Yitzchak Laufbahn

{Photo near top of right column on page 65 – Yitzchak Laufbahn}

{Photo at bottom of left column on page 65 – Reb Eliakim Getzel Laufbahn and his grandson}

Yitzchak Laufbahn, the talented publicist and one of the leaders of “Hapoel Hatzair”, was a native of our city, and we are proud of that fact. He was one of the molders of the Jewish youth of Dembitz, as well as of the workers' movement, before he made Aliya to Israel and even afterward. For decades after he made Aliya, the beloved name “Itchele” was mentioned with pride among the many in our midst who were influenced by him, and who took his lessons to heart.

He was born in Dembitz on the 9th of Av 5648 (1888). His father, Reb Eliakim Getzel, was a respected merchant of forest products as well as a learned man, and an expert in Hebrew literature of the middle ages. He was from a long line of Rabbis, whose family tree could be traced to Rabbi Yitzchak Abarbanel [1]. His mother Rachel was the daughter of Reb Avraham Leib Polaner, a zealous Hassid and fighter for justice in his community. His paternal grandfather, Reb Yehuda Aryeh Leib was a Misnaged, and one of the first members of Chibat Zion in Dembitz. He was a great scholar, and served as a Rabbinical judge in Dembitz. He was the son-in-law of Reb Yitzchak Silberman, who was very sharp, and had a vast knowledge, and also served as a Rabbinical judge in the city. Laufbahn studied in the cheder and in the Beis Midrash. He was known as a genius from his early days, and his maternal grandfather did not allow him to occupy himself in secular studies, so that he would be able to devote himself fully to his religious studies. During his youth, he was able to debate Talmud and Rabbinical Responsa in the Beis Midrash as an expert scholar. However, the spirit of the times also affected him in the Beis Midrash. He began to read the forbidden literature secretly, and studied privately general knowledge. At age sixteen, he participated in a memorial program for Herzl in the synagogue, even though the Rabbi and the heads of the community were opposed. The conflict between the two sides lead to a brief period of imprisonment on the count of disrupting public order. In 1907, he joined the “Hashachar” movement and was one of its noted leaders.

In 1908, after he had saved a small sum of money for his journey to the Land of Israel, and before he boarded the ship in Trieste to travel to Jaffa, he wrote a farewell letter to his father and informed him of his intention to make Aliya.

In Israel, he began to work as an agricultural worker on a moshav, and he joined the “Hapoel Hatzair” (The Young Worker) movement. He spent some time in Jerusalem with the “Hatzvi” organization, as an assistant to Eliezer Ben Yehuda [2]. In 1910, he traveled to Switzerland where he audited philosophy courses at the University of Zurich. He was called to the Land of Israel by telegraph in 1912 in order to write popular science that would be published by “Laam”.

In 5674 (1914), he edited “Hapoel Hatzair” along with Yosef Aharonovitch. When Aharonovitch was exiled to Egypt during the First World War due to his Russian nationality, Laufbahn took his place as the editor of the newspaper. He was allowed to remain in the Land of Israel since he was a citizen of Austria, which was an ally of Turkey. When “Hapoel Hatzair” closed down, he edited various different publications. During the time of danger he gave voice to the feelings of the movement and the Jewish community. During the mass expulsion from Jaffa and Tel Aviv, Laufbahn lived in Ein Ganim.

After the British conquest of the southern portion of the land, Laufbahn was active in the reorganization of the Jewish community, and he was an associate member of the temporary council. When life returned to normal in the land, he was a representative to the elected council aleph' gimel', a member of the education committee of the Zionist executive, a member of the central body of the “Hapoel Hatzair” movement. When it merged with “Achdut Haavoda”, he became a member of the central workers' organization in the Land of Israel.

In 5681 (1921), after he participated in the Zionist congress, he went out to work on the organization and publicity in Poland. He set up the newspaper “People and Land” in Warsaw. Later, he established the newspaper “Working People” in Berlin. He wrote articles in other newspapers in Yiddish, German, and Polish.

During the course of thirty years, the editions of “Hapoel Hatzair” published Laufbahn's essays and articles. They were very well liked by the readership, and served as signposts for publicists for the duration of an entire generation. Laufbahn's essays also appeared from time to time in “Hashiloach”, “Hatkufa”, “Meoznaim”, and other periodicals.

He translated the two volumes of the book “Napoleon” by Emil Ludwig into Hebrew. He edited the book “The Workers' Movement in the Land of Israel” by Ada Fishman, as well as several booklets of the monthly “The Workers Union”, and four books of “Dvarim” (statement) – an anthology of essays of Chaim Weizmann, which was published by “Hamitzpeh” in 1934.

Shortly before his death, he edited and published the anthology “Forty Years”, on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the weekly “Hapoel Hatzair”.

He passed away in Tel Aviv on the 6th of Elul 5708 (September 10, 1948). After his death, a large volume of “An Anthology of the Writings of Y. Laufbahn” was published as well as the book “Anshe Segula” (Extraordinary People).

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The Modest One

by Yosef Shprintzak of blessed memory,
President of the first Knesset

I take great pleasure in the opportunity that has come my way to dedicate a few words in memory of Yitzchak Laufbahn in the book that is being compiled by the Dembitz natives, his birthplace.

To be honest, in my mind the names of Dembitz and Galicia never come to mind when thinking about the name Laufbahn. Even his first name Yitzchak is not on the tip of my tongue when I think of him, and it was not often used during my official and personal contact with him. The people of the second Aliya conducted their lives in a new fashion in the Land, and were not connected to their past or to the events in their birthplace. The late Mr. Laufbahn was similar in that matter. The name Laufbahn, as it stands alone, stood for his essence and manner of conduct for all of his days. Laufbahn was close to me for decades as a friend and as a participant in all aspects of our life in the Land – in “Hapoel Hatzair”, in Zionism, and in the workers movement – from the time of the second Aliya until the time of the establishment of the state. One can sum up his character very simply: a dear friend, with clean hands and a pure heart [3].

His modesty concealed him so much that even on the precious day of the jubilee festival of the second Aliya, his name did not appear in any way in the list of the builders and activists of the Hebrew workers' movement He was one of our best publicists, the prime spokesman, the accurate spokesman, who publicized and promoted the thoughts and actions – the pains and accomplishments of the era of Zionist renaissance. His publications were fundamental, rich, and full of nuances. In his years of service in the field of writing, he was the voice for the pioneering effort of the nation, who desired the renewal of the Land and to become a working people.

The omission of the name and memory of Laufbahn during the jubilee festival of the second Aliya was completely unintentional, and was not caused by any disrespect for his position and the great esteem in which he was held, but rather because the blessed publicist, who gave so much in such an honorable fashion to the delineating of the path and deepening of the thinking of the people of the “workers' conquest” of Israel – concealed himself and was completely encompassed by his work.

Laufbahn continued the newspaper “Hapoel Hatzair”, founded by Yosef Aharonovitch, with talent and honor. This was the first Hebrew mouthpiece of the workers of the Land of Israel. He added content to it, and stamped it with his unique signature.

Yitzchak Laufbahn has left us, however his spiritual legacy has not departed from us. His rich literary creations will continue to serve as a rich source of educational material for years to come.

Yehuda Bornstein

{Photo in left column of page 66} – Yehuda Bornstein (1904)}

Yehuda Bornstein was only fifteen years old when he first appeared on the Jewish public scene in our city, and he was twenty-four years old when he left. Nevertheless, it is possible to state without exaggeration at all that thanks to his activities and many great struggles, the Jewish community of Dembitz succeeded in awakening from the darkness of the time, and to attach itself in an ever increasing manner to the world movement of renewal, which spread among the Jews of Galicia at the end of the 19th century.

It is possible to state without any exaggeration at all that during these ten years from near the beginning of the 20th century until one year prior to the outbreak of the First World War, no organization in Dembitz was founded, and no worthwhile public endeavor was organized without the efforts, activism and leadership of Yehuda Bornstein.

There were individual Zionists, and even small groups in Dembitz prior to him. But it was he himself, Yehuda Bornstein, who was the first that saw no other issue in front of his eyes, and no other purpose in his life other than the Zionist endeavor. Even his great thirst for knowledge and his love of literature and science did not distract him from his many activities.

The general state of the Jews of Dembitz at the beginning of the 20th century was such that nearly all of the Zionist activists were forced to leave the city, due to the scanty opportunities to support themselves. Some left to larger cities in Galicia, while others emigrated to other countries, particularly Germany. Dembitz was slowly emptied of the good powers of its activists. At that time, as the field remained without anyone to plough, as the saplings of the first activists were about to wither without anyone to cultivate, he arose, a youth of fifteen years, and with great self sacrifice he gave himself over to put an end to the desolation that reigned.

Yehuda Bornstein was born in 1888 to his father Shlomo, who was the son-in-law of the contractor Geshwind, and who owned a hotel next to the train station. He chose for his son the dual education which the maskilim of Galicia gave to their children at that time: traditional and Jewish combined with secular and modern. On the one hand, he studied in the cheder and the Beis Midrash, and on the other hand he prepared for studies in the Gymnasia. He did not go beyond the preparations, for as the son was actually about to be sent to Gymnasia, there was fear of persecution from the religious zealots. In any case, it was possible to consider the students of the Gymnasia to be students from the outside, privatists in the vernacular.

Thus Yehuda was caught between two worlds: half of him was in the Beis Midrash which no longer held his interest, and half of him in the anteroom of the Gymnasia, so to speak. At the end, he left the Beis Midrash but did not make it to the Gymnasia. For even more than his desire to become a lawyer or an engineer, the call of communal duty took hold of him, and that determined his path of his studies. He learned a great deal and read a great deal, however the purpose of his studies was no longer in order to obtain a diploma in the future, but rather to absorb the philosophy of the modern world, in which this nation would be Jewish and Zionist.

During the course of his preparations for the Gymnasia, he established friendships with the Jewish students of the Gymnasia of Dembitz, some of whom were from outside the city, and he was like one of them. He was a reader of “Moria”, the newspaper of the Zionist students of the Gymnasia at that time, which was published in Lvov. During the years 1904-1905 he published several essays and bold articles in that paper regarding current events. He also became involved in Zionist activity. A new spirit suddenly broke out in the city. The ice was broken, and fifteen year old Yehuda became more and more involved in his activities. He saw a world of opportunity before him.

There were several Zionist youths in the city who were of the middle of the road, however they were spread out and very few of them were bold enough to proclaim their Zionism openly. All prior attempts at organizing were foiled due to the opposition of the Hassidim. It was necessary to find a means of organization that would not awaken such harsh opposition. Yehuda proposed in his articles the idea of founding a “merchants' union”, that would not proclaim itself officially as a Zionist organization, but would open up the opportunity for Zionist activity among its members. This organization was founded and existed for a period of time. The young Bornstein spoke at its opening assembly. However, this organization was not able to take roots, since there was no real need for a “merchants' union” in such a small city as Dembitz. The leaders of this union included Naftali Eisen, the owner of the large locksmith workshop, Nathan Günspan, the owner of the large drawer factory, and Shmuel Mahler, the son of Chaim Mahler and one of the first Zionists of Dembitz.

At that time Yehuda Bornstein was also behind the establishment of the first Poale Zion group in Dembitz. He wrote the first article about that subject in “The Jewish Worker”.

This was not sufficient for him. That very same year, Yehuda Bornstein came up with the idea of founding the “Debora” women's Zionist organization, which existed in various forms until the outbreak of the Second World War.

The year 1905 was the most fruitful year for the efforts of Yehuda Bornstein in Dembitz. That year, the organization which served as the foundation for the younger generation in Dembitz was founded due to his blessed efforts. From that time on he had the responsibility of overseeing the existence of all of the new organizations, of directing them in their day to day activities, of maintaining the contacts and preventing disputes among them, as well as fighting the battles against the main opposing force to Zionism from its outset – Hassidic Orthodoxy. He conducted his activities without tiring, with great dedication and self sacrifice. When it came to establishing a Hebrew school and a library, and with every external political activity – Yehuda Bornstein was one of the prime volunteers and workers. He was the recognized head of the movement in Dembitz. He represented it externally, even though it was not in need of such representation. He was a delegate to the twelfth congress in Vienna.

The final effort of Yehuda Bornstein was the founding of the “Hashachar” youth organization, which called itself “The Union of Young Students”. It was a branch of the national “Hashachar” organization, which held its convention during Passover of 5678 (1918) in Dembitz, in the Bornstein hotel. Yehuda was one of the participants in that convention.

Yehuda married Ruchama, the daughter of Nathan Günspan in the winter of 1913. She was an activist among the youth of the city. In 1914 the young couple left to Frankfurt, Germany, with the definite goal of making Aliya to the Land of Israel as soon as possible.

Yehuda Bornstein's sojourn in Frankfurt was very short, not more than two months, however he certainly left his mark there: “the Jewish Cultural Union”, which flourished greatly for several years.

In April, Yehuda left Frankfurt for the Land of Israel in order to prepare for his settlement along with Ruchama, and he remained there for three months. He returned to Germany in order to return with Ruchama, however in the interim the skies of Europe darkened. The First World War was looming, and due to lack of any choice, the family moved to Weisbaden, where they resided during the years of the war and the French occupation. Ruchama, who was very astute in organizational and commercial affairs, succeeded in establishing a flourishing business in Weisbaden, and Yehuda gave himself over to his work for Zionism, which won him great recognition among the Zionists of Germany. Among other things, he was very active in the “Organization of Jews from the East” in Germany, which was founded by two Galicia natives, Moshe Waldman from Tarnopol and Ben-Zion Fett from Rzeszow. There was not one Zionist convention in Germany where Yehuda did not represent the Zionists of Weisbaden. At the beginning of the 1920s he was chosen as a member of the executive committee of the “United Zionists of Germany” which was seated in Berlin, Munich, and Strasau.

Nevertheless, the physical success which was due to the changed circumstances, and the Zionist activity did not mitigate the plans for Aliya of Yehuda and Ruchama.

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In 1924, the couple liquidated their business in Weisbaden and moved to Israel, to Haifa, where Yehuda build his home in Hadar Hacarmel. Due to the unstable economic situation, they decided to return to Germany temporarily in order to rescue their wealth there, and apparently for several years he remained there, always hoping to return to the Land of Israel, to his home in Haifa. In the meantime, he continued with his Zionist activity without bounds. Everyone who came to his house did not fail to recognize the great measure of the hospitality of Yehuda and Ruchama, and their willingness to assist whomever required assistance. However, at that time their economic situation deteriorated, and Yehuda, who was straight in his ways and pure in his intentions was not able to continue functioning. On June 30, 1930, the heart of this man, who from the days of his youth only had one direction – Zionism, stopped beating. He did not merit to see the Land of Israel again, Haifa the city in which his home awaited him, and in which he had hoped to educate his two sons. Ruchama, his partner in life did continue on to the Land of Israel, and she keeps his legacy alive until this day.


In the Path of Hashachar

by Dov Sadan


The San River, which traversed the crown lands of Austria known by the pseudonym of Galicia, and served as the boundary between the eastern side whose main population indicated that it had been torn asunder from Ukraine, and the western side whose main population indicated that it had been torn asunder from Poland, also served as the boundary between its Jews. Anyone looking from up close would not miss the covert differences, primarily in mentality. However, even those looking from afar would notice the most obvious differences, particularly in the level of development. Certainly, the network of streams and struggles penetrated the entire space, but not to the same degree and fashion. This difference is noticeable to anyone who studies the founding of the first streams – Hassidism and the Haskalah – and their battles from both sides of the San. The east side appeared as a front of strong bastions of Haskalah opposite strong bastions of Hassidism, with a constant and open battle. The west side appeared as a field of Hassidic conquest with pockets of Haskalah invasion, with the battle being intermittent and partisan in style.

The standard path of the Haskalah from Berlin though Prague and Vienna toward eastern Europe required a passageway, which began through Krakow, Tarnow and Rzeszow, and continued to Lwow, Brody and Tarnopol. However, in truth, the pathway was not like the railway track, but almost the opposite, such that it can be said that the Haskalah in Western Galicia was like an echo of the East.

The difference is also noticeable to someone who studies the foundation of the later streams, assimilation and nationalism, and their battles on both sides of the San. On the eastern side of the river, the Jews were situated between the anvil of a Ukrainian majority and the hammer of the Polish minority who were in power. This tension instigated the consolidation of the national consciousness and political plans. This factor was absent in the realities of the Jews on the west side of the river, where the situation in this case as well was like that of a voice and its echo.


This development, through which the Haskalah and the national movements in Western Galicia were apparently seen as imported from the East, was also a causative factor in the unification of the few, isolated centers of these streams, and the typical failures of their bearers. These trends were particularly prominent in the main center in which these streams converged like a mother and her heirs. This refers to Tarnow, where this characteristic failure was imprinted strongly on the ways of those under its influence. In the large district of Hassidism that was affiliated with the dynasties of Lizhensk and Ropszyce, to which Dynow and Tzanz were later added – a stream of opposition broke through in Tarnow, whose extremist representatives were, on the one side, personalities such as Reb Shevach Almogin, who began as the preacher of the Misnagdim and ended up as the assistant to the circle of Maskilim of Tarnopol (his son was the scholar Reb Simcha Pinsker and his grandson was the author of Auto-Emancipation[4]); and on the other side, the personality of the rabbi of the Misnagdim. Resting atop the stratum of Misnagdim was the stratum of the Haskala and its various representatives, from a serious personage such as Naftali Keller the author of “Habikurim”, to a jovial personage such as Mordechai Weisman-Chaies. Between them, there was a person in whom seriousness and joviality were blended with significant talents intermixed with a measure of humor – Mordechai David Brandstetter. Like their friends, the three of them were already standing within the precincts of the beginnings of national awakening, as is clear from their common organization, “Hashachar” and its editor Smolenskin. The stratum of nationalism and its various representatives was layered atop of the stratum of Haskalah. Some of those who had left their Talmuds in the Beis Midrash and acquired their knowledge in secret were already beginning to stand out – including Leibish Rafael's, i.e. Leon Kelner, who was among the first of those who began to follow Herzl. Some of them no longer knew the Beis Midrash, or knew it only as the tip of the fork, as they openly transferred to the precincts of the gymnasium in their city or moved to a city of educational institutions, primarily Vienna. They were taken by the young nationalist movement, especially by the “Kadima” organization, and brought news of such to their friends in their home cities. Of the three primarily representatives of this class, whose images stand out from the photograph of the Basel Conference – Avraham Zaltz, Edward Shwager, and Zygmunt Bromberg-Bitkowsky – the first is known as an active personality in the “Ahavat Zion” movement that attempted settlement in a practical manner with unfortunate Machanaim settlement, and fought for their rights before Herzl. The latter was also one of the Machanaim directors, known as a poet, organizer and pedagogue.

Tarnow and “Ahavat Zion” became synonymous terms in the annals of Galician Zionism. Tarnow in its stratum and “Ahavat Zion” were the pinnacle of influence for the region, particularly in the nearby areas, and a concentration point for all the sparks that were ignited in the towns of Western Galicia. All visions were considered as insignificant if they did not stem from this source of influence and its center.

Ahavat Zion also became a symbol for the relations between the intelligentsia

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and the masses. The attorney who led in the denouncing of this was the president of Aguda, whose members were intelligent and pious, and the founders of a Moshava whose builders were Orthodox. With these two foundations came the need for harmony. This path of opposition manifested itself in several incarnations. There was the group of Yaakov Meir (Max) Bienenstock, Zev (Wilhelm) Berkelhamer, and Yitzchak (Ignacy) Schipper. Were you to examine their language of writing and essence, you would see, especially in the former and the latter, a connection to the foreign language as well as a tendency to the language of the masses, particularly in their spoken language.

{Photo page 69: A convention of “Hashachar” in Rzeszow on the intermediate days of Passover, 5688 (1920). Lower row from the left: Daniel Leibel and Yitzchak Laufbahn. Second row, standing, at the right: Moshe Worcel and Leibel Szewach.}


Before you, in general format, is the way of Tarnow, which had influence on the region, and especially on the city of Dembitz, which was like a suburb of it from this perspective. If you went to speak to natives of Dembitz and those who held it up, chief of whom was Yitzchak Laufbahn, who had their hand in influencing it and its path, it is appropriate to remember the opposition game, and the harmonization between the intelligentsia and the people. If you wished, you could also interpret this as an opposition between the newly minted intelligentsia who were educated in the gymnasiums and the educational institutions, and the homegrown intelligentsia who were educated in the cheders and Beis Midrashes. The opposition against “Ahavat Zion”, between the first of those who prepared for the return to Zion in a practical manner, and who supported such, but who were not among those who made aliya, and the others who demanded practical action but failed due to the opposition – was evident after some time even in the small but important “Hashachar” movement which encompassed the organization of Talmudic youths, or those who frequented the Beis Midrash. This was a youth movement that arose from the midst of the original intelligentsia, the youths of the Beis Midrash, who sensed the upheaval in the world and therefore progressed beyond their peers of the same age in the gymnasiums. It is certainly no coincidence that it was not the members of the large organization of Zionist students, but rather the members of this small organization who provided the groups of olim who joined the Second Aliya. In the publication of “Hashachar” containing the minutes of the second convention of that organization that was published by “Neie Folks Zeitung” in Rzeszow, edited by the secretary Naftali Zigel (Drohobycz, 5668 / 1908), we read, “Those who made noise and a tumult became a major factor. Youths gathered together from all corners of Galicia in a small corner (the convention took place in Rzeszow on the second intermediate day of Passover, 5668[5]) in order to deliberate over their situation and their needs and to create an organization. This was a sign that these youths were not seeking renown – as others accused them – but rather practical work, not mottoes but rather activity. Who would have imagined a few years ago that a day would come when the youths of the Beis Midrashes and Kloizes would gather together to speak about general matters? Who would have believed that those who were persecuted, those who were 'in darkness' would suddenly awaken to life and work?” From the words of Moshe Weisenfeld, the founder of the movement, we can discern the rise of self- consciousness: “The value of the youths was also greatly lifted by the 'Hashachar' movement. Previously, every boor considered it praiseworthy to disparage and mock the youths of the Beis Midrash. Today, at least, they look at these youths as productive people, as fine sons of the Israelite nation. Also,

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from our side, we began to look more upon our situation, our purpose in life and duties to the Jewish nation. The more that we understand the aspirations of the youths, the more that we delve into the questions of our nation, we come to the understanding that these youths are the best of the Jews, the most nationalistic of the Zionists, and that they are the most fitting of the entire Israelite nation to bear the banner of renaissance and the Zionist movement, and that they are the most healthy and fresh element within Jewry.” Can we not hear from these words a resonance of the youth movement that arose a few years earlier on the Jewish street in Galicia, and whose self consciousness found its confirmation within the definition of M. Buber, for the youth ensures the fortunes of the perpetuation of humanity? If during the investigations of our times we see presumptuousness in this recognition, the opinion is hidden in a place where this self-consciousness comes more as a sense of fulfillment of duty rather than a demanding of rights. Thus was the way of our youth movement, both in its early, most intuitive manifestation during the Second Aliya, as well as in its later, characteristic manifestation during the Third Aliya and beyond. Just as this small “Hashachar” organization inadvertently formed a connection with the previous generation, the “Ahavat Zion” people of the towns of Western Galicia who made aliya to our Land and took hold of it; they also inadvertently formed a connection with the coming generation, the stream of youths from Eastern and Western Galicia, especially the youths of “Hashomer Hatzair”, who were carried upon the waves of the Third Aliya. Indeed, the heralds of the Third Aliya were small groups, such as “Chalutzei Zion” that arose in Brody through the initiative of Yosef Aharonowich, and groups of “Hashachar”, as well as individuals who acted as pioneers and came to our Land. A sign of the excellence and seriousness of “Hashachar” was that within a brief period of time after this declaration of self consciousness, its members appeared in our Land. These included the Dembitz native Yitzchak Laufbahn, who became one of the chief publicists of the workers' movement; the editor of “Hapoel Hatzair”, Berish Miller, a Jaslo native, who later became known by the name of Dov Kimchi the writer, teacher and editor. (Incidentally, at that convention, he opened with the words, “First, I apologize for speaking jargon”[6]); the Tarnow natives Yehoshua and Yechezkel Brandstetter and Aryeh Lichtiger (Nahir) who became known as farmers and communal activists; and the Dembitz native Tzvi Wolf (of blessed memory) who was faithful to the Land and to Hebrew guarding. Others, later on, were youths of “Hashachar” who, like their predecessors, in the interim spread out to other camps and found their way into the Workers Movement, including the Dembitz native Daniel Leibel, a writer, activist, editor and researcher; the Moszciska native Naftali Zigel, a teacher, publisher, and textbook author; the Belz native Yosef Falk, a writer and essayist; Avraham Kahana (Avrech), a writer and folklorists; and others. However, presently our primary interest is Zion, for the “Hashachar” organization produced pioneers of the Second Aliya.


If we now return a bit to that convention, we will hear several interesting things. Here is a word of sympathy – Avraham Zaltz “works in our camp”. Of communal support: “Even the assimilationists agreed to give to us, saying: these are the youths of the future.” Here is a word of hatred – “The organization of youths is an abnormal organization. The youths conduct their work clandestinely, so as not to arouse the suspicion of their fathers, the suspicion of the householders, etc.” Here is something about the close relations with the students – the Zionist academic youth in Tarnow registered Hashachar as a name in the Golden Book. Here is a something about distant relations from them – “We do not want to give the leadership of labor to the students, we do not want to depend on them.” The program was restricted to the unification of the Talmudic youths for the purpose of actualizing the Basel program and its aims, of raising their physical and spiritual status, and educating them in the nationalist and European spirit. Its connection to the Zionist movement was a direct connection to the active committee of the Zionist organization in Cologne, its language was Hebrew, and its secondary language was Yiddish. The battle for self definition and independence was fierce. It is interesting that the refusal to affiliate with the national Zionist organization came through the investigation of the assimilationist character of the local Zionist activist: “We have already seen what type of speeches it (the district) sends to Hassidic areas. Most of them are ridiculous people, for more than they are liable to work on behalf of Zionism, they are liable to denigrate – we cannot give ourselves over to people who write to us in a language that we do not understand.” However, the debates already became divisive, especially at the point of contact with Poale Zion (indeed, this was the end of many members who were swallowed up in its midst), and what unfolded from it in the matter of Yiddish (the recommendation to publish “Hashachar” in Yiddish as well was rejected not only out of principle, but also based on the fact that all of the members understood Hebrew; there was also a recommendation to request partnership with “Revivim” of Y. Ch. Brenner, which was rejected. Incidentally Brenner wrote a critical article about the “Hashachar” publication.)

To sum up: Before us is a fundamental Jewish youth movement according to the composition of its members, students of the Beis Midrash, to whom Zionism and the Hebrew Language obviously comes naturally. The members aspire to Hebrew culture that encompasses a general spirit, and protect their uniqueness through investigating the typical archetype of a Zionist, including the young Zionist, who is not concerned with the contradiction between his nationalistic mottoes and his vernacular origins. This was an intermediate movement that prepared its members to self consciousness, pride, and the duty of self fulfillment. If specifically this movement gave rise to pioneers of aliya – this was due to the attitude of seriousness that pervaded the movement.


This arena led to the ascent to greatness of Yitzchak Laufbahn, who was one of the leaders of his movement. From the vantage point of time, we can deduce that it was Berish Miller, known as Dov Kimchi, who delivered the lecture on journalism, whereas Yitzchak Laufbahn delivered the lecture on publicity. However, to us who were accustomed to seeing him, a writer and editor disappeared from our midst, for he had organizational skills[7]. It is appropriate that we should now read his small speech as it was recorded those minutes (pages 14-15), and which demonstrates that he knew how to bring order and clarity to that which was before him.

“Dear friends! The power behind any organization is effective and orderly publicity. Through publicity, the idea will spread and followers will be won. We do not have orderly publicity at all. We do not (did not) have talented speakers and organizers who can travel to all the cities of Galicia and work on behalf of our idea. Therefore, our idea has not spread appropriately. However, this is not the main lacuna. The bad thing is that even there (in the place) where

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publicity is conducted for “Hashachar”, it is carried out without a primary aim, without a methodology and without order. Instead of helping, it has caused a great deal of damage. The members who worked amongst the youths did not know how to walk with them or how to speak to them. Thus, they caused a great loss for our organization, for the youths continued to distance themselves from us and oppose our aspirations.

In order to conduct appropriate publicity, and so that we will be able to realize the hoped for benefits, it is necessary to found a publicity office whose mandates will be:

  1. To devise a methodology and program for publicity.
  2. To set up branches of that office in all chapters, which will inform the central office of the powers who possess the skills to conduct agitation.

Thus, our work will spread out with order and method.”

In the minutes, we hear that the president, Moshe Weisenfeld, recommends charging Laufbahn “to execute the publicity program and to disseminate it in letters that will be distributed to all the regional councils.” His recommendation was accepted. We hear that Dembitz was among the cities that had a regional council, and the council was headed by Yitzchak Laufbahn. He certainly carried out the task that was given to him, but he did not carry it out for a long period, for we hear from the words of Moshe Weisenfeld, who closed the convention with the following pure words:

“– – – We must remember Jerusalem at the head of our joy. You know, dear brethren, that the settlement of the Land of Israel is developing, and today the possibility exists for every Jew to settle there, not just for the ideological purposes, but also to make money there and to conduct good business. Therefore, we have the duty to travel to Palestine. I am hereby informing you, dear friends, that our friend Mr. Yungerwirt, who worked with us last year on the convention, traveled to the Land of Israel to settle there. In the name of the entire convention, I extend our deepest good wishes to him, and may our wishes accompany him on his journey to our Land (applause). Please, let us also try to follow in his footsteps and travel to Palestine, for that is our ultimate goal. That is the place for our youth. You known several youths who until this time have wandered through Vienna and Berlin, searching for their purpose in life. The time has come for all those youths to travel to our Land. Let our comrades set out for our Land! Summon the strength to form a caravan of pioneers to go there, to work in the Land of our patriarchs, each one in the profession of his expertise.

We young people, with our great love for the Land of our patriarchs, are able to do work a great deal toward the renaissance of our Land. Arise, therefore, to work and action! Before we part, I will conclude with the ancient blessing: Next Year in Jerusalem (stormy applause).”

These concluding words emanated from a proper heart, the heart of the president of that organization – who himself did not merit to go to our Land, but remained faithful to it until his bitter end, especially as the head of the Keren Kayemet in Western Galicia. They penetrated a receptive heart, and Yitzchak Laufbahn was one of the first to respond to it. Indeed, that member Yungerwirt had an important position in his path of life. Not long passed before the voice of Laufbahn was heard among the youth of Galicia in an open letter that left an impression. It took place as follows: After a year, when Laufbahn was already in Jerusalem, issues of the Polish monthly of the Zionist youth in Galicia, “Moria”, reached him. In one of the editions, he found an article from his hometown of Dembitz, and he decided to oppose it in an open fashion: To my sisters in the Diaspora (Moria, Lwow, Seventh Year, Issues 5-8, September 1909, Pages 178-189).


The letter itself was certainly written in Hebrew, for the editors of “Hamoria” noted, as they published it, that they have translated it into Polish. We wish now to present that letter, in which his style that he later became known for can already be seen. However, all we can include is a translation of the translation. He opened with the observation that he read that article with great interest:

“For behold I am, Heaven save us, someone who was educated in that gloomy city, and the old shadows of the past envelop me, and trepidation overtakes me... I do not know if you in the Diaspora are at all able to feel what I felt when I read that article, which has more of the character of an obituary. 'It is easy to remember' – a memorial of the dead! – Something that has never existed. I still remember, dear sisters! On occasion, I still recall the Diaspora, the dreams and visions, bursting like soap bubbles! I am not writing a letter of accusation against you, but I want to tell the truth.

You were never serious in your work, never! Therefore, it does not bear fruit. A body without a soul has no life! If at times someone[8] carried out his task seriously, he destroyed his self in body and spirit because he was alone. The others, apparently his supporters and helpers, specifically the 'men of integrity', worked for selfish reasons or pretended to be diligently active. They never possessed any understanding about what it means to be a Jew.

You are distraught for naught, beloved sisters! The People of Israel did not lose anything with them, and the Land of Israel does not need such pioneers, who would only drag the Diaspora here.

Pessimists turned into these visionaries. It is no wonder, and indeed it is now typical, that they call for abandonment, become 'spiritual aristocrats' and promise even more than this... 'A child's game.' 'The party chains me down' – one of them said to me, even before he removed the study cap with the letter G. This was on a winter evening. I rambled with him on and on, looked into his eyes with astonishment, and recognized the odor emanating from this... 'They will bury their dead.'

You with your small group, if you wished to work seriously, you could have done more than provide the masses, millions, of such 'student caps.'”

Invalidating the imaginary activity and thought about true actions; an investigation into evasions, removing the covers and exposing the hidden; setting everything on a reliable basis whose power is great and decisive for the masses – to the point that it was acknowleged that the “Hashachar” movement was a link in this aliya.

{Photo page 72: A group of the “Devora” organization (1908) – The first one in the row of those seated, at the right is Ruchama Grynspan.}

Translator's Footnotes
  1. A leading Rabbi in 15th century Spain, and an advisor to the king. Return
  2. Eliezer Ben Yehuda was the father of the modern Hebrew language. Return
  3. The phrase “of clean hands and a pure heart” is a quote from Psalms 24. Return
  4. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Pinsker. Return
  5. There is a footnote in the text here, as follows: The first convention took place in Dembitz on the intermediate days of Passover, 5667 in the Bornstein Hotel – the editor. Return
  6. A term for Yiddish. Return
  7. I believe that this means that he left the immediate realm of the close knit organization to move on to larger roles – although the wording is convoluted. Return
  8. There is a footnote in the text here: A hint to Yehuda Bornstein of blessed memory – the editor. Return


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