Besides my own family, I had in Kalush three close and dear friends Perlah Ruzenmen, Feigahlah Mayer, and Niyanya Babed. The three of them were destroyed in the Holocaust with their families, each one in a strange place and under strange circumstances.
Before I left Kalush, our family lived in Browar, the beer brewery. There Father worked as a directorate official. After our house was destroyed by fire in the First World War, we received an apartment in the domain of the factory. The two owners, Aba Milshtein and Leibtshah Shpindel, I see in my imagination as if they were standing before me. The chief and older of them had grey hair. They were both always wearing black suits; in their hands, Tyrolean walking sticks. When they grew very old, administration of the factory passed to their children: Zelig Milshtein and his son Mosheleh, and Leibtshah's grandson, Shlomoh.
I remember the noise and tumult of Browar very well. This was a large factory, with many workers, principally Ukrainians. The beer produced there was good and delicious, and praised in all Galicia.
Behind the factory was a river, in which all the townspeople bathed. Those going to the river were obliged to pass by our house, and they turned aside to our place to saturate their thirst in the warm summer days. No one who asked to drink was surprised when, in place of water, he received beer.
The Browar was, in the days of my childhood, the only place in the city in which a turbine produced a current of electricity. Therefore, our house had electrical lighting, as well as warm water in the bathtub. All my friends came to our place to enjoy the warm water for bathing. One year when I came home to visit, I found out that in Salinah (the salt mine), natural gas had been uncovered, and in each house in Kalush they used gas for heating and cooking. Even the synagogue was heated with gas. However, as several years passed, the natural gas disappeared, as if it had never been. Meanwhile, they began to produce a current of electricity in the city, so there was electrical lighting in each house.
Forty-six years I have been in the Land of Israel, and before that I lived for ten years in Germany; I have seen the world and its fullness. However, Kalush, the town of my birth, the place where all my dear ones were destroyed, will not pull out of my memory. My heart is gripped each time I think about what happened there.
When I was ten or eleven years old, Kalush was still under Austrian rule. This was before Pesach [Passover] and as usual, like in each Jewish home, also in our home we did a basic [house]cleaning. During the course of putting [everything] in order, I began to rummage inside the chest of drawers with Mother's dresses, and from under all the garments I brought out Dr. Herzl's picture [Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), a famous early Zionist]. I was stunned from the revelation, and ran quickly to inform the family that Mother was a Zionist. In my family, all of them were government clerks and officials, and so, of course, opposed to Zionism.
In Kalush there were then already Zionists like Dr. Guld, Mr. D. Haber, Mr. Fokhs, and others, all of them members of the society Toshiyah. It [Toshiya] was also a Hebrew school. Meanwhile, the First World War broke out. In wartime, I thought a lot about Mother and Dr. Herzl's picture, but to a Zionist consciousness I arrived only after the war when I began to visit the Hebrew school.
After the war, when life returned to its accustomed course, I began to study Hebrew. The school was in two rooms, but bustling with life, on the street that was a water conduit to the municipality. The teacher was Mr. Han, and on his initiative the Ivriyah (Hebrew school) was founded that fulfilled all the time its promise as a school. We assembled each Sabbath eve [Friday night] and also on Saturday afternoon. For each Saturday, a different member would prepare a lecture, and after the lecture were, of course, debates.
The self-taught, like Bernfeld, Bentsher, Kulberg, and others, were among the first to make aliyah [immigrate to the Land of Israel]. We also had a dramatic troupe who put on several shows for adults and for children. The most important of the shows was the drama The Meshugah [The Crazy One], which Teacher Han had translated from Yiddish. For this play, Professor Furman from Lvov [Lviv, Ukraine] was invited. He was full of deep admiration for our Hebrew, and pointed out that this play is the first in the Diaspora [Exile] in the Hebrew language. He called Kalush, Klein Palestina [Little Palestine].
I was then in the intermediate class. There was also a class higher than mine, called Ha-Universitah [the university]. We were also active for the sake of Ha-Keren Ha-Kayemet [Keren Kayemet Lisrael, K.K.L., or the Jewish National Fund, J.N.F.], and we participated in other Zionist enterprises.
In the year 1925, I made aliyah [immigrated to the Land of Israel], by right of our Zionist education and activity in the city of Kalush.
Engraved deeply in my heart, pleasant and precious, are the memories from the city of my birth, Kalush, city of my grandparents, my parents, and my sisters and their families, who were destroyed [as martyrs during the Holocaust]. Memories from the days of childhood and youth have tied me in a strong and unforgettable knot with my fellows and close friends; for maximum sorrow, only a small part of them were rescued by the Holy One (blessed be He) from destruction [during the Holocaust].
Kalush was a city of householders, and in it were pious men, and Jews filled with the fear of HaShem [God]. Their lives were not easy: they led a difficult struggle to provide for their families, investing numerous efforts to raise their children and to bring them to the khupah [traditional wedding canopy] and to good deeds. However, they made a habit of not shutting themselves apart from the other; always their hearts were open to the other, with anybody always ready to help his friend. I particularly remember the society of Agudas Akhim [Union of Brothers], to which all the householders in the city belonged. Once a year, in one of the evenings of Chanukah, the society, in which my father (may his memory be for a blessing) was the honored president, would hold its general meeting. After the meeting, late at night, friends of my father would escort him home, generally in sharply cold weather, with thick snow covering the city outdoors. Rabbi Itsikl Gutenplan's orchestra also being among the escort, the entertainers would come to a halt before our house, separating from Father with a sweet melody. This melody still lives in my consciousness, and whenever I remember it, it awakens within me a longing for the happy world that passed away and is no more. Also, the words of the song are preserved still in my memory.
The prayers of Rabbi Yekhiel Shokhet [ritual butcher] (may his memory be for a blessing), also penetrated deeply into my heart, particularly those which were heard in our house on holidays when friends of my father, HaRav [the town rabbi], would come to visit. Many people would then stand outside by the windows, looking inside, and listening to the sweet song of the cantor, who possessed a wonderful voice. At the end of Yom Kippur, Gutenplan's orchestra would entertain us during its visit, and inside, the music would sound, wishing for my father a good year. Actually, all of the holidays were celebrated at our house, in fear of HaShem [God] and in joy.
Our house was situated within a garden, in which there were trees of sweet-smelling fruit. Upon a bench in the garden, we spent in pleasantness many hours on beautiful summer evenings, listening to the song of the nightingale that came each year to the old pear tree inside the garden to build its nest.
With my friends I would meet frequently in the Visutshankah forest. There we spent our free time in singing and in talks about the world, which we imagined so that we would best know it. I remember each corner in the city of my ancestors, each narrow lane, each stone. It seems to me that despite the many years that have passed since I left Kalush behind, I would not lose my way in her streets if I happened to go to her today. I will not forget you for eternity, my city Kalush.
When I made aliyah [immigrated to the Land of Israel] in the year 1930, I left behind the house of my father in the hope that my parents and my sister would come after, but bitter fate ran differently. My father was a man good of heart and ready always to help the other. In the Great Synagogue in which he prayed, a group for mutual aid was organized, and my father was an active member in it. After a day of work in his store, he was often going out volunteering the duration of the whole night, visiting the sick in order to make things lighter for the family.
From my youth I was brought up at home for Zionism and aliyah [immigration to the Land of Israel], and about the Land of Israel I already understood a great deal before I began to study in school. I studied in the Hebrew school Toshiyah, which resided then in the house of Dr. Nadel in Kolejowa Street; my teacher was P. Yakub.
When I was growing up, the Gordoniyah [Gordonist Zionist] movement arose in Kalush; I was among the first in the city to join it. I remember well how much labor the leaders, Khayim Hufman and others, invested, and how much energy I invested, in acquiring membership for our movement. One of the acts in which I participated when I was in Gordoniyah, was obtaining contributions for K.K.L. [Jewish National Fund, J.N.F.] I must point out also that limited generous contributions prevailed. One of those times, when I went with my fellow members to collect contributions for the K.K.L., some youths watching called out after us: Jews for Palestine. I answered them: I am ready thus in all my heart; when I grow up, I will do that. They did not know that in coming times we would occupy ourselves with an action whose purpose would be to facilitate Jews settling in the Land of Israel.
Gordoniyah was part of Hitakhdut [Association]. There, meetings took place, generally on Saturdays, meetings dedicated to Zionism and the Land of Israel. Members from Kalush or from other places would lecture. I remember the young girl, Naomi Helpern, who was always in a completely filled auditorium, and among the first participants in debate. She was among the first girls in Kalush who left for training [vocational training before immigration to the Land of Israel], in spite of the numerous difficulties involved. She was also among the first girls to make aliyah [immigrate to the Land of Israel].
I, too, realized my Zionist dream; however, my parents and my sister did not. They were destroyed in Kalush, the sacred.
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