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[Column 97]

The Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel

by Pinkhus Szildkraut

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

 

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The Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel Organization in Our Shtetl [town]

The Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel [youth organization of the non-Zionist orthodox movement] was founded in Kurow later than all of the other organizations because the fervent Hasidim as well as the scholars who did not travel to a rebbe [Hasidic rabbi] were against creating such an organization. They thought it would tear away the young men at the house of prayer from studying. It turned out to be the opposite of what in the past had drawn other young men from the house of prayer. From the young men from Kurow, who were dispersed among the famous Polish yeshivus [religious secondary schools], came news about “being spoiled.”

Yisroelke Frost, not born in Kurow, was in Kurow at that time. He was with his grandmother, Etl [the daughter of] Nekhamia.

Thanks to his initiative, a discussion was called of the oldest and youngest activists. Among the oldest taking part were Pesakh Shnuer, the son-in-law of the Sokolower Rebbe; Motl Zilberblum, the son-in-law of Itshe Shnuer; Noakh Lerman, Shaya Altman, Yisroel Gocziczanski,

 

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The Rabbi Dovid Kirszenbaum (London, Canada), son of Yosl Shoykhet [ritual slaughterer], co-founder of the Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel in Kurow

[Column 98]

Yakov Borukh Wizenklor and the Rabbi, Dovid Kirszenbaum, now in London, Canada.

Yisroel Lerman (later was a Garwoliner son-in-law); Yisroel Yitzhak – Sura Rywka the fisherwoman's son; Yankele [the son of] Hercke were among the younger activists taking part. The activists did not live in peace among themselves during their daily lives. For example: Yisroel Gosziczanski was always angry with Noakh Lerman because of the manufacturing business they owned as partners. There also were quarrels among the Hasidim: one traveled to Reb Shlomole Eiger in Lublin; the other to his brother Ezriel Meir [Eiger] in Pilev. There also was no peace between Kotsker and Sokolover Hasidim, but the sacred war united everyone. They decided to begin to carry out widespread activity among the young men in the house of prayer as well as among the young merchants who only studied a page of Talmud at night.

The activity of the Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel consisted of spreading the Agudistic literature, the daily newspaper, Der Yud [The Jew] (later, Dos Yudishe Togblat [The Jewish Daily Newspaper]. The youth newspaper was edited by Avraham Meir Krongrad (born in Nakhum Sokolow's shtetl [town] Wyszogrod). He once was with us in our shtetl and gave a lecture. After the lecture, Moshe Meir Feldberg declared about him that the young man would someday be the Agudistic Sokolow [a Zionist leader and Hebrew journalist].

The members of Agudas also subscribed to the Hebrew journal, Digleinu [Our Banner], which was edited by the famous Agudas journalist, Reb Aleksander Zishe Fridman.

Essays by Kurow young people, such as Yakov Sznajdleder and Shmuel Moshe, the only Jew among us who wore tzitzis with tkheyles,[1] the only Raziner Hasid, were published several times in this journal. The Kurow Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel was so well-known at the central office in Warsaw (once at Graniczne 9, then at Szwienta Jerski 22) that almost every Agudah leader who traveled to Lublin on party matters or to Yeshiva Chachmel Lublin [famous Agudas Yisroel secondary school in Lublin] stopped in Kurow. During the Sejm [Polish parliament] election activities, the famous journalists

[Column 99]

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The Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel
First row, from right to left: Alter Rapoport, Alter Szuchhendler, Avraham Moshe Zinger, Leibl Rozenzon (Bnei Brak, Israel), Hersh Sznajdleder
Second row: Kalman Cukerman, Zaynwl Fridman, Pinkhas Szildkraut (Tel Aviv), Simkha Bergerman, Lev Grosman (Ramat Gan), Chaim Avigdor Altman (Tel Aviv), Leibish Tszechanowski
Third Row: Moshe Meir Feldberg, Moshe Sztamfater, Yankl Sznajdleder, Melakh Gozsziczanski, Moshe Rozenberg (delegate from Warsaw, today he lives in Israel), Shmuel Lerman, Yehezkiel Gorsman, Simkha Bunem (a son-in-law of Yisroel Gozsziczanski), Avraham Honigblum, Avraham Oberklajd. All, with the exception of those designated by their place of residence, perished.

 

from the Yudishe Togblat, Reb Avraham Mordekhai Rogowy, Reb Ayzyk Ber Ekerman, visited Kurow. The Agudah [candidate lists] numbers 18 and 33 received more votes here than any other list.

There were cases such as the communistic young people who agitated with their parents and poor, pious people that they should vote for communist [candidate list] number 13. They promised the poor people that if they voted for the communist list and the communists won, obtained power, the rich would have to share with the poor and there would be no more anti-Semitism. There would be a Garden of Eden on the earth. However, the poor, pious Jews did not want a Garden of Eden that was against the Torah. They voted for the Agudah list, which was supported by all Torah scholars.

The Tzeirei Agudah already had a tradition that every Simkhas Torah [holiday commemorating the completion of the yearly reading of the Torah and the start of the reading for the new year] and Shabbos Bereishis [the Sabbath on which the first Torah portion of the Hebrew calendar is read] they would separate from their Hasidic shteiblekh [one-room prayer house] where they prayed every Shabbos and holiday… They made their own minyon [prayer group of at least 10 men]. Every year, at another rich young man's [house], such as at [the house of] Chaim Shneur, Elimelekh Gozsziczanski, Shmuel Lerman and Yehezkiel Grosman. Yitzhak Fiszman came to the hakofes [the circular procession with the Torah scrolls performed on Simkhas Torah] of Tzeirei Agudah every year and, [although] sick, danced “V'taher Libenu” [Purify our hearts] with the group. Moshe Tuvya Kawa also joined the Agudah young people for Simkhas Torah. Later, he was an active Agudah member. Yankl Gutman, Yehezkiel Gutman's son, Shaul Pomeranc, Meir Lewin and still other young Hasidim also came.

The Tzeirei Agudah Yisroel also were involved with the repair of prayer books. Every Friday and holiday eve, two members would go through the shtetl with a pushke [can for collecting donations] and collected money to buy new religious books, as well as to repair the old ones. [The task of buying] new books would be given to Yoski Khazan [the cantor], so he would bring them from Lublin or Warsaw.

[Column 100]

Shaul Einbinder worked at rebinding old religious books.

In general the Kurow house of prayer was rich in books, as is appropriate for a scholarly shtetl. The Tszeirei Agudas also was involved with helping the emissaries, who came to collect money for various yeshivus [religious secondary schools]. During the time between Minkhah [afternoon prayers] and Maariv [evening prayers], when the emissary gave a sermon, several young men moved the table close to the door so it would be harder to leave, lit several large candles, put down the books of Kaballah; [there] also was an appeal from the rebbes and rabbis to support the yeshiva.

The next morning, the rabbi from Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel went with the emissary to ask for money from those who had not been in the house of prayer the night before. The members of Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel also took care of providing food and a place to sleep for the emissaries and ordinary preachers who came to Kurow almost every day. It was enough that one of the older young men would send a note to whatever income earner there was: “Today you have to give food and a place to sleep for the emissary” – and no one dared to refuse.

There also was a Beis-Yakov [orthodox school for girls] School in Kurow. The founders of the school were:

Surale Itsha Shneur, Sura Mulis, Nekhema Yuta Fridman and Hershl Wachman's wife, Chana Yenta (now in Israel). The women carried on vigorous activities for this school. They subscribed to several issues of the Beis-Yakov Journal (published in Lodz under the editorship of Reb Eliezer Gershon Fridnzon). Shlomole Gerszon's daughter and a granddaughter of Fayge Riwa, Ruchl Szildkraut, was a teacher at the Kurow Beis-Yakov School for a while, until Editor Fridnzon learned that there was such a talented girl in Kurow; he invited her to

[Column 101]

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Chaim Yosef, brother of Pinkhas Szildkraut; he perished

 

Lodz to work as an editor. Later she went through a course for teaching tailoring. The central office in Lodz sent her to Czszenow to be a Beis-Yakov teacher there and also to teach tailoring at Bnos Agudas Yisroel [division of Agudas Yisroel – Orthodox political movement – for girls]. This was in 1938-1939. She came to Kurow during the Hitler war and perished with all of the other martyrs. Ruchl Szildkraut also was a very talented violin player. She was certainly the only girl in Kurow who rode a bicycle (the Agudah leaders did not approve of this).

The Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel also maintained contact with the well-known Agudah activist Szceranski. The Kurow Agudists [members of Agudah] grew to know him better after the death the head of the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, Rabbi Meir Szapira, of blessed memory in 5695 [1935 – Rabbi Szapira actually died in 1933]. The Rabbi Ahron Erlich, later the Markuszower Rabbi, also invited Kurow Agudah communal workers many times for consultations because the relationship between the young men at the house of prayer and our rabbi, Reb Elimelekh Guterman were not particularly good.

Among the Tzeirei Agudists who do not appear on this photo and have not yet been mentioned in my description must be included:

Hershl and Moshele, sons of Sura Rywka. Hershl was considered among the great scholars in the shtetl and was known for his calligraphic handwriting (he created the shivisi[2] for the house of prayer cantor's desk. His mishenikhnas Adar marbim b'simkha [our joy increases with the arrival of the month of Adar because of the celebration of Purim] and Mazel Adar Dagim [Zodiac sign of Pisces – a fish – for the month of Adar] – which he printed, shone from the eastern wall in our house of prayer). Moshe Yosl Fridman – later a bookkeeper at the Markuszower Bank; Chaim Yisroel Kartman, Hershl Lewi, Chaim Yehoshua Oberklajd, Velvl Barlige's oldest son, Mend Leibl, son of the shoykhet [ritual slaughterer] – he later became the shoykhet in Izbica Lubelski. Davtsha Zalcman, Meir the son of the shoykhet, Yakov Szer, Yehiel Tenenbaum, Dovid Hersh Goldgewaks, Zysele's grandson Borukh (Hersh Gershon's [son] took pride in his neighbor's good head), Hershl Najmark, Shmuel, Yitzhak's son, Nekhamia Grosman (Yakov Lajzer's youngest son), Avigdor's son Yosl Shyala, Yankl Shaya the baker's son, who studied in Kotsh with Reb Yosele Morgnsztern), later

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became a Kuzimerer son-in-law; Yankl and Avraham Kaplan, Yosl Yankele (Shimkha Meir's son, was in the Soviet Union at the time of the [Second World] War, joined the Polish Army. Survived the war; after the war he was sent to Wolyn as a sniper to fight against the Polish A.K. (Armia Krajowa [Home Army – underground army during the occupation]) and fell at their hands, Shmuel Altman – the “press commissar.” Every morning he would be the first to wait for the mail in order to take Dos Yudishe Togblat [The Yiddish Daily Newspaper] and the Agudistic propaganda material, bring it to the house of prayer and distribute it. He was happy that the Togblat arrived earlier than Heint [Today] or Moment.

During the last years before the war, when the Agudah began to work for Eretz-Yisroel, its slogan was building the land in the spirit of the Torah, and the well-known Agudah leader, Dr. [Yitzhak] Breuer, of blessed memory, said: With Zionism we will conquer the land from the wasteland, from the desert wilderness.

In opposition to the Keren Kayemet [Jewish National Fund] and Keren Hayesod [United Israel Appeal], the Agudah created the Keren HaYishuv [fundraising organization for religious education in Eretz-Yisroel] as well as hakhsharah [preparation for emigration to Eretz-Yisroel] places in various locations, and also divided its number of certificates [from the British for legal emigration to Eretz-Yisroel] proportionally. The Kurow Tzeirei Zion Agudas also carried out extensive activity for the holy work.

In 1934, the Agudah central office turned to the Kurow Tzeirei Zion Agudas Yisroel to send several members to hakhsharah to then be able to emigrate to Eretz-Yisroel. Alas, there was not anyone in Kurow who would agree to go to hakhsharah and to emigrate…

I was in Lodz then and I was informed about this. I agreed immediately and traveled to hakhsharah in Warsaw, at Twarda Street number 16; I was there for about two years. This was a tragedy to my father, of blessed memory. Once, I learned that my father was in Warsaw, as a messenger for the Kotsker Rabbi, may the memory of a righteous man be blessed. This was when a trial was taking place against the well-known forest merchant and Kotsker Hasid from Markuszow – Ayzyk Migdal – accused of

 

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Yankl Meir, brother of Pinkhas Szildkraut – perished

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setting fire to the Czerziner forest (found on the road between Kurow and Ryki).

Entering the house of prayer of the Pulwer Rebbe, Reb Moshe Mordekhai, may the memory of a righteous man be blessed, at Muranowski 44, I went over to my father and said hello and he did not answer me.

Later, when I finished the hakhsharah and awaited a certificate, I traveled to Kurow to persuade my father to agree with me, but my mother Miriam (Mariaml), may she rest in peace, had told my father:

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– Listen (because they never called each other by their names, [they only said] “listen” and “look”), you have already lost the fourth guide to Gan-Eden [heaven]!
The meaning was this, that we were four children: my sister Rywka and brother Yakov Meir – they already were lost souls from the country… My oldest brother Chaim Yosef, who actually was a religious young man, was a fervid Hasid of the Rebbe Kuk, of blessed memory – so he also was a lost one. The only hope lay in me and my desire to go to Eretz-Yisroel was a great tragedy for them.

 

Translator's notes:
  1. tzitzis are the fringes attached to a talis [prayer shawl] or other ritual garments. Tkheyles are blue wool threads woven into the fringes of the talis. Return
  2. shivisi – “I have placed [God always before me]” – a picture of the seven-branched menorah with a verse that serves to create the proper frame of mind for praying. Return


[Column 107]

Several Episodes about Our Hechalutz

by Liptshe Wajnrib

Translated by Pamela Russ

[ ] translator's comments

 

 

Hechalutz in Kurow was founded in the year 1923. Every nationally conscious youth wanted to throw off the exile. Down with the “dark dealings” [“shady business”], down with the small town business. You have to be able to work with the earth, to chop wood, to build, to do all the physical labor. In the Land of Israel there will be no non–Jews who will work for us, but we will have to do everything ourselves.

Young boys from the Beis Medrash [“House of Study”; place of learning generally within synagogue], girls from refined homes with prestigious roots, whose parents were worried about letting them out into the bright light, in spite of all the hindrances, they decided to venture onto a new path.

The founders of Hechalutz were:

1) Moshe Strassburg (today living in Israel), 2) Yosel Taitelboim, may his blood be avenged, 3) Dovid Kartman (Ramat Gan), 4) Velvel Wurman (killed in Russia), 5) Yidel Mandelker (Cuba), 6) Yekusiel Vakhman (Tel Aviv), 7) Baila Rozenspier (Tel Aviv), 8) Khayale Garfinkel, New York, 9) Saneh Grossman, 10) Liptshe Weinrib (Ramat Gan), 11) Frandel Mehlhendler, 12) Faige Krantzberg, 13) Khaya Toba Rosenson, and a few others. The first meeting took place in the house of Hertzke Beder, which he sold to the community. Yidel Brik, as chairman of the community, gave us the homes for the

 

Moshe Strassburg, son of Nokhum, founder of Hechalutz in Kurow, today in Kfar Chagla, Israel

[Column 108]

meetings for Hechalutz. Many youths came to the meetings. We inspired the youth with our slogans, and a great majority registered into the organization. Within a few months, we formed a kibbutz [collective farm].

 

Yosel Taitelboim, Hebrew teacher in Kurow. Educator of a generation. A scholar. Chairman of Hechalutz. Deceased.

 

Yudel Mandelker, secretary of Hechalutz, today in Cuba, correspondent for the UN.

[Column 109]

Meyer (Shloime Shaul's) Cederboim in Buenos Aires

 

For this goal, we rented a place at Yidel Beker's; we set up a kitchen there. We bought dishes and prepared food. This was work only for the girls. The boys went to chop wood. We approached all the Jews in town and literally forced them to allow our boys to chop wood for them in their places. We took the same payments as did the non–Jewish wood choppers. But there were many Jews who, simply out of pity, did not want to allow us to chop wood for them. The argued:

“See here. Khaim Shia Motel Miriam's and Yekusiel Hershel Kukes – will they become wood choppers for me?”

But we made them understand that this was the way that we would learn how to work hard. Also, Israel needs only those young people who can work hard. The Jews accommodated us. With that, there were several groups of boys set up, among which were:

Meyer Cederboim, Yudel Mandelker, Khemye Goldschleger, Meyer Najmark, Dovid Kartman, Yekusiel Wachman (he left to Russia later on and was killed there), Yitzchok Fishbajn, Shmuel and Faige Pozarowtchik, Chana Grosman, Yisroelke Leberboim, and others.

All of these came, after work, to the site where we girls had already prepared food for them. Their earnings were given over to the joint fund. There were several boys who slept at this site. Steel beds were set up for them along with straw mattresses, and the young boys left their warm bed at home and came with enthusiasm to sleep on the site. Some became sick because of this, but still did not want to leave their place in life of self affliction, anything so long as they were preparing for the path to Israel.

When our parents came to Yidel Becker, where our site was located, and saw how we were washing the floor, polishing the windows, cooking and washing the dishes, they simply cried out of shame, because we were the type of girls

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who would not dip our hands in cold water when we were at home. Here, we did our work with love. We put in all our energies with our thoughts and hopes to begin a new life in our land. While asleep and while awake, we were always stewing in our ideal. We organized lectures three times a week. Twice a week, there were Hebrew classes, and twice a week there was singing and dancing the new horas [Israeli dancing]. When we were singing and dancing, about half the town was standing under the windows. They envied us. More youth began to join the organization. The joy increased, we had no other thoughts in mind, we were not bothered by what was going on at home, or in the world. All we had was the organization “Hechalutz,” and this was our life.

Our parents started [on us] in a good way and in an angry way. They appealed to the youth:

“See what is happening to you! Better that you go back into the Beis Medrash [Study Hall] and you'll get wonderful dowries, wealthy in–laws.”

But our young boys did not want to hear any of this. The words did not enter their ears.

We progressed in our work, organized performances, real–life newspapers.

I remember an episode: There was to be a performance in which I was participating. The performance was to be held on Shabbath night [Saturday night]. By Friday, we had already sold all the tickets. I already knew my part by heart, and suddenly, as a thunder, there was a pounding on the door on Saturday afternoon, and my father (Reb Sholom Goldberg, of blessed memory) and the entire family were in the middle of their meal, and Hodel Meyer's came in, and she begins with her prepared speech:

 

Yisroelke Loberboim (Malka Chaya Charnes), perished

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“Gevalt [oh my!], Reb Sholom, where are you? There is a fire raging and do you not see anything? Where has is ever been heard that your daughter Liftche, who is the grandchild of a Rav, should sing in the theater along with boys? It is a himmel geschrei [a catastrophe in the heavens]! And my Velvele is with them! You know very well, Reb Sholom, that my Sholom was wearing linen [not sure what this refers to, maybe to retain his purity?] until the age of 13, because I was unable to bear any other children, and if not for the Sokolov Rebbe, I would not have my Velvele either. How can you permit this? I will gather together all the other mothers and we will create a riot – so that the entire city will get together.”

My father things, and says to Hodel Meyers:

“It's good that you came to tell me all this, I did not know any of this. The issue is over, she will not go to sing.”

Hodel Meyers left the house, and as soon as she left, my father, sitting at the table, with all the children around him, said sternly to me:

“You will not cause me any embarrassments or humiliations so that people will talk about me. You will not go to sing! Take off your shoes.”

I did not say a word, not daring to appeal to my father's senses, because I did not want to make him angry. He was very strict and I did not want to cause him any pain. I immediately removed my shoes and my father placed them directly into the cabinet and locked it, placing the keys into one of his pockets. He then went to sleep.

I was confused, not knowing what to do. My heart was crying, I felt that all my weeks of energies had waned. A small thing – we had worked so hard, studied our roles, sold tickets – and now, because of Hodel Meyers, everything would be lost. I became her enemy for life.

I began to cry to my mother, maybe she could do something with my father – so that he would remove the decree.

My mother gave me an idea, that I should go the site of “Hechalutz” right away, tell them all what had happened, and see that they should send a delegation to my father. Maybe the delegation will manage to convince him to remove the decree. I put on a pair of old torn shoes, and ran to the site. As soon as I entered, they immediately saw that something had happened. My eyes were teary, I had a changed face. I told the administration everything and they immediately held a meeting where it was decided that as soon as Shabbath was over and a candle would be lit [designating the end of Shabbath], I should be in the store. We had at that time

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Frandel and Sane Grosman, co–founders of Hechalutz, perished

 

the main traffic. Then my father also came to the store. The administration had chosen an appropriate delegation that comprised:

Binyomin Weinrib, Yosel Teitelboim, Sane Grosman, Velvel Wurman (Hodel Meyers son). At the designated time, they stopped over at our store. I was standing just anywhere, and the young boys began arguing with my father, pleasing with him to understand – that I must come to the performance and perform my role, because if not – he would ruin the entire evening for us, which we had put together with great energies and toil, and that the tickets were already sold. And that they understood what is meant – the voice of a woman – but if all the money and all the work is really for Israel. We are pioneers and we want to go to Israel. Therefore, the mitzvah [good deed] overruns the sin of hearing a woman's voice.

After a lengthy argument with my father, he actually became a little softer, because quietly, he was a real lover of Zion. Finally, he said to the delegation:

“Well, you work so hard with me, and I see that you have a strong ideal, so I allow my daughter to go with you to follow through with her role. But I do this on one condition – as soon as she finishes her role she must come home.”

My joy was without bounds. I performed my role with even greater dedication and joy. There was no one happier than me in the entire world.

I have only recounted several episodes. There would have to be more former members of Hechalutz who would have to perfectly relate and recount in detail the history of Hechalutz.


[Column 113]

Some Remarks and Memories of
Our Hechalutz and Hachshara

by Dovid Kartman, Ramat Gan

Translated by Pamela Russ

[ ] translator's comments

 

 

On a daily basis, letters were sent to the Hechalutz center in Warsaw, on Orla 11, about acquiring several spaces in a Hachshara location for our friends [comrades]. The yearning to go to Israel was at that time very strong in the entire country. The main center was pressured by the mass desire of thousands of candidates. And there were few places. Each representative from his own site wanted, with all his might and energy, through kosher means and not so kosher means, to tear himself out of the lineup and acquire as many places as he could.

After long discussions and arguments with friend Funt (today in Jerusalem), claiming that the friends in Kurow would fall into a state of apathy, that very soon our friends would be able to compete with the prices of the old non–Jewish wood choppers (because, otherwise the Jews did not want to give us work if the price was not cheaper), that soon it would be possible to send our chalutzim [pioneers] to “solwork” (building highways and canals) for one–and–a–half zlotys per day, for 10–12 hours of work – so our administration was able to acquire 8–10 places in several kibbutzim [farm settlements].

On the first day of Shavuos [Jewish holiday], a telegram arrived from the Hechalutz center in Warsaw that all of us had to be in Warsaw the morning after Shavuos.

The joy among us was enormous. Our fantasies became reality. A beautiful banquet was celebrated for the selected candidates. Even uniforms were prepared, as per the orders from the center.

For the departure, hundreds of youth escorted us to the train station. Each one was very envious of us, that we were so lucky to be able to go on Hachshara, and after that, understandably, to Israel.

 

In the Prince's Estate for Hachshara

We were in the Warsaw center only for one day, and from there we left, a group of 25–30 youth, to Kaluszyn, and from there to a court estate in Seroczyn.

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The prince sent a few to Kaluszyn in order to bring us into his orchard. It was very lively in the town itself. Whichever pioneer [“chalutz”] went into a store to buy something to eat, was sold the item at half cost – the Jews were very pleased to have the merit and the mitzva of helping the young boys and girls who were preparing themselves to go to Israel.

From Kurow, there were three boys and one girl (Velvel Wurman, Yitzchok Fishbein, Baila Rozenszpir, and me).

Soon, the Polish anti–Semitic press began to rile up against the fact that the pioneers were taking over the place of Polish workers, positions that belonged only to the non–Jews. Our prince as well, was mentioned in the press, and they threw at him that he was employing “Zhides” [Jews].

We worked for the prince for the price of 60 a day and a little bit of food. We were simply hungry but still worked energetically. In that village, there also lived several Jewish families, each of whom, on Friday nights, took home one pioneer to their Shabbath table.

Not more than ten to fifteen friends worked there, and we rotated with the work, the girls mainly staying at home in the commune [shared living quarters (two rooms)

 

Yitzchok and Yechezkel Fishbein, Laya Yudel's two sons – perished

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and were busy cooking and washing and doing other household tasks.

 

Mercy from the Farmhands

We were there for about a month, the heckling company in the Polish anti–Semitic press, also against our prince, did not cease, and together. One morning, we received from the orchard administration a notice that we were laid off from work. We immediately notified the Merkaz Hechalutz [Pioneer Center] in Warsaw about this, and from there we received in reply an order not to leave the place because the prince had signed a contract for half a year. He has to keep us employed. But, the prince took charge of himself. He decided that he would not pay us any money or give us any food. The farmhands had pity on us and very discretely gave us food. They had already spent time with us – the farmhands – and they didn't want them to bring some from the crass Ukrainians, White Russians as our replacements.

After about a week of hunger, we were notified by the Pioneer Center that we have to leave to a different courtyard, again working for a non–Jew, but some [workers] also – in the courtyard of a Jewish orchard owner.

We left to Drogoczyn – by Wiszogrod–Plotzk.

Baila Rozenszpir was taken to a different kibbutz [collective farm]. The dismal, difficult work situation began to penetrate our very bones. Not everyone could acclimate themselves to their own circumstances and was able to live in friendship as before. Some left or had to leave – from the shared quarters. Of the three from Kurow, two returned to Kurow. They acquired some money immediately, to buy some food, but they were careful and they ate in secret. This created situations of theft.

 

Beatings from the Farmhands

In this place, we encountered farmhands who were consumed with anti–Semitic hatred against us. There were incidents where some of our friends were hurt when they were at work so that they would not be able to go back to work, and the prince should think that the Jews did not want to come to work, were lazy, or could not work.

But we, tough, stubborn people

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Faige Pozarowczyk, perished

 

as much as possible did not permit this, were even singing and dancing – even in the most difficult circumstances – as long as we could tolerate, survive these difficulties.

Other than the work itself, we also had to learn Hebrew. When it was two weeks before Rosh Hashana, a commission came to us from the Merkaz in order to select candidates for aliyah, and they were primarily interested in those who succeeded in the test of community living [shared living quarters]. Those who were not selected had to remain for another half year in Hachshara. I was one of those who was selected.

 

Waiting for Seven Years…

When I returned to Kurow for Rosh Hashana, I found many of our friends depressed and dejected, they were practically doing nothing. The fact that the other two friends left the kibbutz created great difficulties for the remaining friends of that organization.

I began to prepare a travel visa, this was in the year 1925 to 1926. Because of my age (nineteen–and–a–half), I still had to get official permission from my parents stating that they allowed me to emigrate. They also had to give me, understandably, money for the cost of the trip, but under no circumstances did they want me to leave. This situation lasted seven years. Only in the year 1933, did I receive a certificate (from the left–wing Poalei Tziyon) and together with my wife (Shaindel Strassburg) we left to Israel.

 

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