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[Page 248]

Zionist Jaroslaw

by Dr. Yitzhak Schwartzbart

Translated by Susan Rosin

Slowly our state organization became almost a country in itself within the Zionist life.

In the eastern borders of this country was the beautiful town of Jaroslaw. It was a district in our organizational activities. My memories of this town are not necessarily just because I lectured there many times and also participated in meetings that took place there. They are mostly related to my dramatic wanderings after the last meeting of the Sejm in Warsaw. During the first days of the Second World War I stayed in the hell of this town for 26 hours while the German bombs were dropped mercilessly.

The Jaroslaw Zionism was moderate, even-tempered, and completely in tune with the rest of the movement. The Zionist leaders of the town were not quarrelsome people. Therefore the executive felt confident they can leave the Zionist work to the local leaders in town. I remember the names of Dr. Spatz, Yehoshua Potasher, and the lawyer Dr. Rager, whom I met in Jerusalem in the year 1953. At the time he was a night guard on mount Herzl.

The Zionist youth there was amazing. They were amazing with their many problems. Wherever there are problems, there are also arguments and disputes. It was a boiling cauldron of youth.

Occasionally, here on Broadway, in New York, I meet a friend who in my time, was one of the Zionist youth leaders in Jaroslaw, and today he is a well-known scholar in the area of old Yiddish literature. He is an expert in his field, and in my opinion he is also the pride of the city of Jaroslaw. This man is Shalom Spiegel.

Such were the roses in the Zionist life bouquet in western Galicia and Silesia. Is it possible - roses without the thorns? There were thorns and quite a few of them.

During the early years after Poland was resurrected [after world war one], the head of the executive was dr. Shmuel Warhaftig. He was the epitome of a Zionist leader. He was heavy set and was measured in both his personal and public life, but was completely devoted to the Zionist ideas. Because of his dedication to the movement, he sacrificed quite a bit in his professional life as a lawyer. When he passed we followed his coffin in silenced mourning with our heads bent through the historic Grodzka street to the Jewish cemetery.

Excerpted from the book of Krakow, page 214.


[Page 253]

Jewish Sport in Jarosław

by Mundek Hebenstreit

Translated by Selwyn Rose

I cannot pretend to write about the history of sport in our town because I simply don't have the information. I only wanted to convey a few memories of the sports life of Jarosław, things that I carry in my memory thirty years after they occurred, from the day the Jewish population was exiled from the town in 1939. That was the day that the sports life of Jarosław's Jews died.

Tears fill my eyes when I recall the memory of those days and of the Jewish youth in the period between the two World Wars (1918-1939). This youth was full of life and youthful energy. They filled the Ḥadarim and schools, the youth associations and the sports clubs every day and on Saturday nights, at Hanukkah and Purim. They spent time in the “Yad Harutzim” Hall or “Szkoła Moziczna”. This Jewish youth was imbued with ideas, beliefs and ideals, which explains the fact that eighty percent of the Jewish youth belonged to Zionist youth movements and the number of different associations was over ten, in a town that was not so large. The activities of the youth were not confined to the field of idealism alone. In keeping with the saying “A healthy mind in a healthy body” the youth of our town developed a vibrant life of sports either within an organized framework or even without it.

Groups of boys and girls would go sledding on the slopes outside of town or play ice-hockey on the frozen Zilinski Lake. The truth is that not every boy or girl had skates or other equipment for winter sports training. Quite frequently, a bent wooden stick served us as a “hockey-stick” or one ski or skate tied to the foot served as two real ones but we didn't let that stop us. The only target was “go faster”, “get further”. So far as skating was concerned, some of the Jewish girls at the time, were very capable, especially the sister of D. Hentzel and on more than one occasion we followed her in wonderment as she danced across the ice.

On summer days, we spent our time on the banks of the San. Youngsters were accompanied by their parents. They would simply go to bathe while the older children at the same time would swim in the river; the weaker swimmers swam with the current while the stronger ones

[Page 254]

against it or they swam from bank to bank. The older ones rowed up and down the River San. Another branch of sports activities for which the youngsters would train was weight-lifting. More than once a couple of circuses visited town. It was a real attraction for the youngsters to see the trapeze artists training. Every little Jewish youngster wanted to copy the heroes of the circus and try his strength lifting weights or swinging on the trapeze or simply trying to display his physical strength in striving to at least emulate the strength of Zishe Breitbard whose physical strength was equal to our legendary hero Samson.

The youngsters taking part in the various sports programs were members of Jewish sports associations. It was only within the organized framework that they could play football, volleyball, table tennis, participate in bicycle races and also boxing, a sport that was considered to be a gentile domain.

I remember the years we played football on the “Mały Rynek” Square and afterwards we would go to the “Wandoły” square to compete in football against the youth teams of “Akiva, Betar” and “Hashomer Hatza'ir”.

During that same period, there were competitions against “Hapoel”, I think on the ground behind the Great Synagogue or in the “Targowica”, an area close to the municipal park. These were real competitions and the names of the players on these teams were known to the public. Among them were: Siegel, Renner, Lipper, Licht, Aftilon, Kaufstein, Bienenstok, Fogler and others.

Dror” also had a football team in those days and its leaders were the Bergerfreund brothers, Krieger, Reich and Sandig. The sportsmen of “Dror” were the only ones who played tennis. Among them were: Sandig, Krieger, Reich, Rabinowitz and Meister. Tennis practice took place on the grounds of the “Casino Oficerska” and later on the grounds of the “Stadium”.

The young sportsmen, who up until now had played only football, yearned to broaden their sporting activities and in order to do so they had to form a new sports organization. The existing Zionist youth organization dedicated all its time and resources to educating the youth and had no spare time to enter the field of sports.

At the beginning of the 1930s a group of youngsters, among them Kalchheim, Fuks, Glatt, Hemmer, Guttman and the writer of this article, decided to create a Sports Association - “Maccabi”.

Maccabi” had a club on “Mały Rynek” Street and its activities quickly grew.

[Page 255]


The “'Dror' Team”

From right to left: Horn, Kaufstein, Hebenstreit, Rot, Fuks, Krieger, Reinherz, Sprung, Kaufstein

 

The main sports of “Maccabi” were football and table-tennis. The organization was equipped with an assortment of sports gear, in spite of the fact that there was no revenue, not from support foundations and not from various other “donors”. All the necessary equipment was acquired with revenue from the faithful, “Maccabi” members' dues. Nevertheless, in time, it became necessary to widen the “Maccabi” club because the framework became inadequate.

At the time, a large sports organization, “Dror” existed where most of the Jewish sportsmen were active. The “Dror” club was located on Grodzka Street,

[Page 256]

in the Warhaftig building. Its secretary was Manek Fliegel and the football manager was Klang. That was in the early 1930s. Outstanding football players were Alec Lipiner, Nadel and Renner.

We, members of “Maccabi” joined the “Dror” club because it allowed us the opportunity to take part in other sports.

And here, I would like to mention a unique attribute of our town Jarosław. In other towns the

 


The “Maccabi Team”

From right to left, first row: Israel Kneitel, Kaufstein, Moshe Kalchheim, Israel Fuks, Izio Krieger
Second row: Moshe Hebenstreit, Chaskiel Fogel, Siko Gutman
Bottom row: Reuven König, Lonek Pokard

 

Jewish sports organizations were sponsored by the various political parties or movements. For instance, the “Gwiazda” [“Star”], was under the influence of the “Bund”, “Ha-Poel” included among its ranks the Zionist Socialist Jewish youth while the ranks of “Maccabi” and “Ha-Gibor” had youth from the “General Zionists”.

[Page 257]

Such a schism did not exist in our town. The youth from all the different political persuasions came to our various sports associations without any reference to their political opinions. In that way the sports associations in our town were a unifying factor of the Jewish public.

After “Maccabi” joined, “Dror” moved to a large apartment in the building on Dietziusa Street, belonging to Rosenblatt. The Chairman of the organization at that time was Engineer Schneebaum and Mauritz Schneebaum served for many years as manager. For a certain period, Glasberg (now living in Haifa), was the Chairman of “Dror” and also its patron.

Within the framework of the club, a few other departments operated: At the head of football department was the writer of these lines, table-tennis was in managed by Hendzel and boxing was managed by Dym. Cycling was managed by Fruchter.

The football team trained at the stadium grounds on Kolejowa Street and the trainer was Sh. Kaufstein. For a short time the trainer of our team was Chudzinski. He was well-known as a player with an established football team “Ognisko”.

The “Dror” team entered into matches against teams of neighboring towns: Radymno (Redem, Radimno), Przeworsk (Pshevarsk, Pshevors'k), Sieniawa (Shinova, Shenova) and others. Among the outstanding players of the team were: Reinhertz, Metzger, Königsberg, Sprung, Weinberg and Gerblich. I recall that at a few games we were joined by the well-known Polish player Antek Tiszarski from the

 


A group of cyclists from “Dror
Korn, Fliegel, Mundstein, Fruchter (manager of the team), Sh. Kaufstein, Metzger, Friedel

[Page 258]

“Ognisko” football team in our town. The intention was to strengthen the team and to have the “Goy”, dressed in blue and white, competing against his fellow Poles.

The table-tennis players practiced their ping-pong in one of the club rooms containing a table. Most of the day it was occupied and during the hours Hentzel, Fuchs and Königsberg played they were surrounded by many eager spectators.

Among the well-known boxers were Sh. Dym and Sh. Kolman who more than once demonstrated their capabilities in the ring at the “Casino Oficerska”.

The cyclists of “Dror” organized bicycle races to local towns and more than once were seen flying along Grunwaldzka Street, Trzeciego Maja, Rynek and Grodzka Streets.

In the volleyball section, the players were mostly the Gymnasium students and pupils of the “Boduwlana” school. They trained in the field on Kraszewskiego Street.

It is impossible to write about sport in our town without noting the hundreds of noisy spectators - the fans. They were supporters of the different teams. With them were sportsmen of the past or simply fans whose support for the various branches was enthusiastic. Among many, I remember two who were really “crazy” about sports. One was Henio Hauben, the “games manager” of Maccabi. He went to all their matches

 


A Group of “Beitar” Sportsmen

Standing from right to left: Sh. Dym, N. Tanzer, Korman
Sitting in the center: Y. Glatt, M. Pasczer

[Page 259]

and was the first to enter the ground. Tired, his face covered in sweat, dragging with him suitcases of equipment; complaining about every torn shirt, missing shoe and above all living to the depths of his being his team's victories and unfortunate defeats.

David, the brother of Shimon Dym, was another dedicated supporter. He was nicknamed “Goose”. He walked by foot to every game, however far; to the town of Sieniawa, or Radymno or even Przemyśl. One would see him walking for many kilometers. He personified the image of the “supporter” and the “walker” at one and the same time and there were many like him – “crazy” about the game - in our town of Jarosław.

Nevertheless, the sportsmen in our town didn't achieve the levels of ability of the well-known national sportsmen of Poland but everyone in his sport tried to emulate the well-known Jewish sportsmen. The footballers dreamed of achieving the standard of Steuerman or Blatt, the well-known players of Lvov's famous “Hasmonea” team. Table-tennis players sought to copy the champion table-tennis players of the time, Ehrlich of “Hasmonea” or Gutek from the town of Tarnow. The famous boxer, Rothholtz, from the Warsaw “Gwiazda” team, was the “ideal” of the boxers in our town. Rothholtz was the only Jew in the boxing team to represent Poland in the boxing contest against the United States of America, beating his American opponent. Incidentally, it should be noted that the world champion boxer was the Jew Max Baer, who reached the championship after his victory over Primo Carnera.

The greatest Jewish sportsmen in the world were idolized by the sportsmen in our town in the 1930s.

The “HaKoach” (“Strength”) team of Vienna, one of the most famous football teams in the world, was the pride of our generation. I clearly remember the team visiting our town Jarosław. It was in 1931. “Strength” then played against the best team Jarosław had, “Ognisko”. The game ended with the Viennese team winning 6-1. We were then quite young brats and it was the first time that we bought tickets and entered the ground through the main gate. Most of us were “gate-crashers” and entered the ground through holes in the fencing surrounding the stadium. With obvious pleasure we found ourselves watching the match between the two teams and saw how Ehrlich, Folk or Guttman with their excellent play “subdued” the “champions” of “Ognisko”. With heads held high and with pride we returned home from the stadium and never stopped

[Page 260]

talking about the tricky maneuverings of “Strength” on the field. Even religious Jews that we met on the street asked us: “Well – by how many goals did we beat the “Goyim” with?” Those were the days!

It seems appropriate to notice that two targets stood out for the Jewish youth in those days: the physical development of their bodies and the development of their intellectual abilities. During the morning hours, the youngsters studied in the high schools or were working, while during the afternoon hours they dedicated themselves to sporting activities. The evening hours were spent in various social and Zionist organizations, discussions, or reading books.

In perspective, these were the lives of sportsmen in our town. The youth of those days was magnificent.

The Holocaust brought an end to that generation of youth in our town and dispersed some of them throughout the world. The majority of the surviving refugees live in Israel and only on a few occasions like memorial meetings or chance encounters do we bring to mind the people of the town of Jarosław, who are engraved on our hearts.

 


[Page 261]

Recollections of my Town

by David Isman

Translated by Selwyn Rose

It isn't easy to bring up many memories of the town wherein several generations of my forefathers and I were born. In that town, I lived and grew up until the age of 21. It is now 30 years since I left my town, Jarosław.

It is difficult for a man to be objective regarding his way of life in the town, where he was educated to reject life in the Diaspora, for it requires dispassionate judgment to bring up memories objectively in a way that is as close to the truth as possible. Today it seems to me those were days of idealism and romance among the youth, and faith among the adult population who came from different sectors of the population: “Ḥaredim”, free-thinkers, wealthy and needy. Many dedicated much of their time to the Zionist movement and a significant portion of them prepared themselves for immigration to Palestine in order to take a meaningful part in rebuilding the country. They all took part, either physically or financially in the revival project. As a result public life displayed a noticeable ebullience, hundreds of lectures were presented and arguments took place on ideological topics, both Jewish and general and understandably there were many different points of view and opinions on the present and the future. Every group put greater emphasis on the theme that was closest to its heart and justified developing it. In the end, they all came to terms with each other. The meaning given to the “National Home” and how to build it also occupied the time and energies of many circles. It is to everyone's credit that can be said that everything possible was done to instill the love of Zion and Jewish cultural values. It was done not only with words but with deeds as well, like: imbuing the youth with a fondness for physical effort, professionalism, military activity, excursions, summer camps and general studies that broaden the knowledge of the youth. At that time there wasn't much work available or significant employment. As a result, for some hours each day they would help their parents, either in their shop or in their workshop (there were professional artisans among Polish Jewry). They remained living with their parents for quite a few years with a very uncertain future.

In the evenings, the youth would gather in their various movements and spend the time in pleasant companionship, reading or listening to a lecture, studying, folk-dancing and so on. All this gave meaning and content to their young lives. Shabbat eves and festivals were particularly notable. Adults also spent their evenings in cultural pursuits: the “Ḥaredim” – in prayer, studying the Talmud, conversations in the Study House on matters of the day,

[Page 262]


Part of the Market Square

 

holidays were spent actively in the organizations on various public affairs (voluntarily and with no thought of reward).

The cultural connections and mutual assistance were well developed. As an example, I can note a specific case: the room used by the Federation where we used to meet for a weekly conversation on Shabbat was at the foot of the high hill. It was one snowy night in winter, freezing cold with strong winds and the approach to the building was very difficult with the added danger of slipping on the snow and breaking bones. Nevertheless nearly everyone came including those who lived at some distance. No one wanted to stay away and miss the meeting with neighbors and friends. Poverty existed throughout the Jewish population, but there was also joy and gaiety in life: there were social and family events. Ways were sought to improve the situation in order to make life more interesting and culture-filled. Each one of us retains some sentiment for those days, especially Shabbat and Festivals, Passover evening and the Days of Awe. Their characteristics were the chief feature for the Orthodox “Ḥaredim”.

All of them gave content and taste to life and the daily struggle for existence that was by no means easy for most of the Jewish population. We must never forget that thanks to the education we received we have arrived where we are today. From the cultural standpoint as well, we draw on that period; in those days, people were involved with matters of culture and courtesy to others.

[Page 263]

As usual, like in every large population group, there were good people and some a little bit “less good”. I am reminded of someone who appeared to be a little “grey” to observers. The name of this man was Eliezer “the lemon-seller”. He would wander round the streets of the town with a basket of lemons in his hand selling them to housewives, barely making a living. But on Thursdays, he would beg for money. I once asked my father (Z”L), who knew him well, if he didn't make enough to sustain himself from the sale of the lemons and had to beg for money. My father answered me saying that he begged for money in order to purchase supplies for destitute people and others in the hospital where he would visit them and offer some comfort, adding from his own resources often leaving himself without sufficient to sustain himself or purchase a fresh supply of lemons. He did this for many years without anyone knowing so that the mitzvah would be greater – giving to others anonymously.

It is possible to provide a gallery full of such people. Perhaps because people like this, the Jewish people survived in spite of all the suffering.

I am writing these few lines not only for those people who were residents of Jarosław for many years and know, more or less, the style of living in the town, but especially for our children. Perhaps one day they will want to know about their forefathers. Then they can open this memorial book, read it and from its pages draw a picture of the life of Jarosław's Jewish community – their fathers – the previous generation, and what happened to them under the Nazis.


[Page 264]

The “Incident”
at the Opening of the Wiata Targowa Town Market

by PinḤas Wintgreen

Translated by Selwyn Rose

I recall the “incident” that occurred at the opening of the new Municipal market “Wiata Targowa” at the corner of Grodzka Street and the “Big Rynek” [market place]. The Municipal authorities had deliberately fixed the ceremonial opening for a Sabbath in order to prevent the participation of the town's Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Steinberg and other Jewish representatives who comprised a major portion of the shop and stall-owners. The senior officials of both the regional civil and military authorities had been invited, as had the heads of the Roman Catholic priesthood and the Greek Orthodox clergy, and also the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community – Rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Steinberg. The City Fathers were sure that the Rabbi would not appear because of the sanctity of the day.

That same Sabbath in the Great Synagogue, in which Rabbi Steinberg prayed, tempers raged. The congregation could not be pacified in view of the affront to the community by the town's authorities. After the Rabbi had been “called to the reading of the Torah”, he addressed the congregation in a trembling voice and briefly explained to those present that he had been invited to be present at the ceremony on that Shabbat. Rabbi Steinberg expressed the view that he should take part in the ceremony in spite of the wrath of the inviters. He asked permission of the congregation to agree to his attending the ceremony in order to sanctify the status of Israel and begged the congregation to delay commencing the Additional Shabbat prayer until his return.

Dressed in his Shabbat finest, he walked the few hundred meters from the synagogue to the site of the ceremony and there, after the opening addresses of the Municipal authorities and assembled clergy, the Rabbi was invited to address the assembly. He ascended the podium and in clear and fluent Polish gave the assembled crowd a brief lesson in the history of Jarosław for the last several centuries. The assembled audience stood mouths agape listening to the impressive content of the Rabbi's lecture. Many comments were heard from the audience to the effect that the Municipal representatives and Clergy needed to approach Rabbi Steinberg and learn from him how to conduct a speech.

At the close of the ceremony, the Rabbi returned to the Great Synagogue with a handful of Jews who had taken part in the official opening of the new market, for the additional prayer where the rest of the congregation had patiently waited.


[Page 265]

Music and Entertainment

by Erna Zilberman

Translated by Selwyn Rose

The musical and entertainment life in Jarosław was, to a certain degree associated with the Geiger Family. The band of David Geiger, his son and Erna Zilberman-Geiger always took part in every theatrical or cinema event in town.

The band performed concerts for the town's residents, and the revenues accumulated were dedicated to the Jewish orphanage situated on Avenue 3rd May under the patronage of Mr. Strisover, the deputy mayor and one of the outstanding community leaders.

The band was known beyond the borders of the town, thus for instance, it appeared on occasion at the court of Baron Potocki and Baron Wettman and even reached Vienna and India where they played before the King in 1938.

The Geiger family also managed a dancing academy where the students from all walks of life in Jarosław, Jews and non-Jews, received lessons. The family also ran a school of music where the residents of Jarosław, especially children and teenagers learned the basics of music and played violin, viola, saxophone and accordion. As a result, a variety of musicians became available for the musical life of our town and elsewhere.

 

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