by Moshe Yisraeli of Kiryat Chaim
With song, music, and enthusiasm, the people of the city accompanied the chalutzim, members of the youth movements, whose aliya began in 1920. This was not the pitiful situation of the elderly olim and those that accompanied them, at the time that they left Turka to make aliya to the Land. Those people had families with children who had not yet grown up. Those that accompanied them parted from them with mixed feelings. They even ostracized them.
Their aliya began in the middle of the 1920s and progressed very slowly. Unemployment was rampant in the Land at that time. The Mandate government did almost nothing to ameliorate the situation, and many young lands wandered about outside the cities without work for the day. It is clear, therefore, how difficult it would be for a head of a family older people who were not used to physical labor, and who did not have appropriate means. From their perspective, this was a very daring and brave thing to do to go to an unknown land with a different climate from their place of origin. Some of them came in the wake of their chalutz children. They struggled very hard and it took a long time until they somehow established themselves. It is fitting to dedicate some space here to recall these older chalutzim, who, through their aliya and suffering, added a serious layer to the upbuilding of the Land.
Zisha Feist was a working Jew, who lived his entire life from the labor of his hands. It is worthwhile to note that this nationalist Jew and his wife already knew then, at the beginning of the 20th century, to give to their children the possibility of studying secular subjects and books along with their Torah studies in the Hassidic environment of the cheder. Zisha Feist made aliya with his family, including daughters of school age, following the footsteps of his son, the first of the first of our town to make aliya. His son was none other than Abba Chushai, the wellknown leader of the workers, today the mayor of the city of Haifa. I recall that when I went to greet them on the day of their arrival, I sensed, not only from the look on their eyes, their trepidation for what was to come.
They suffered from no small amount of difficulties until they somehow established themselves in accordance with the conditions of that time. They were happy with their lot. Zisha and his wife died in Haifa at advanced ages, and left behind a large family that is involved in public life in Israel.
He was an interesting personality among the human landscape of our city. He was a blend of Hassidism and fear of Heaven with worldly knowledge. He was a Hassid of the Admor of Boyan (of Rizhin lineage). Typical of these Hassidim was their boundless dedication to their Rebbe as well as to their external splendor. Abish Berman gathered the Boyaner Hassidim around him few in number but graced with fine traits of Hassidism, the most important of which was a dedication to mutual assistance. Then, a half century ago, this trait was the main strand of their essence.
His home served as a gathering place for like minded people. His nickname in town was The Consul of Boyan. Reb Abish Berman was also fluent in the vernacular languages, especially German, the language of government. He was the only one of the likeminded people of the town who was a regular subscriber to the official newspaper of the AustriaHungary Empire, the Neie Frei Presse which was published in Vienna and for which Dr. Herzl served as one of the editors. All information about politics and news from the wide world had their source with Reb Abish. One could meet old and young people in his store every afternoon, debating and exchanging view on current events.
Aside from his own business, Reb Abish was very knowledgeable about modern accounting in accordance with the principles of that time. He had a fine custom: Every few years he would accept a likeminded lad as an assistant in his shop. Through the work, he would impart knowledge of accounting to the lad, and thereby give him an important profession for life. In this manner, he established a generation of fine businessmen.
It was natural that Reb Abish, as a communal activist with an opinion, did not regard in a positive fashion the breaches in traditional life in the town. When the Zionist movement arose before and after the First World War, he actively objected to it. Later, when it absorbed the best of the youth, including many from Hassidic circles, he remained a very proper opponent. Discussions or debates with those anarchists, so to speak, were not accompanied by curses or disparaging remarks, in the manner of a holy war. Rather, with calm and even mindedness, he tried to convince those enthusiastic youths that attempting to hasten the end is a sin against the Gd of Israel…
However, the irony of fate had it that Reb Abish made aliya with his family to the Land late in life. He went in the wake of his daughter Chava who made aliya with the first Hashomer Hatzair group, and died here in her prime. We young people, who remembered the opposition of Reb Abish to Zionism and aliya, welcomed him to the Land not with feelings of victory, but rather with great satisfaction that even people of his nature had begun to wake up to the national feeling.
Reb Abish slowly got settled and contributed to the economy of the Land, which was meager and poor in those days. With the passage of time, he established a group of likeminded Hassidim. I suspect that in the recesses of his soul, he often thought about the correctness of those Zionist youths in the city whom he opposed so strongly.
He died at an old age in Kiryat Motzkin. May his memory be a blessing.
Daniel Artel, his wife, and children also made aliya in the wake of their son Aharon, who arrived to the Land in 1920 with the first chalutzim of the roads1 era. He was an important person and a serious communal activist in town. He also endured difficulties in acclimatization, especially in his transition from a wealthy situation in his home town to the new situation. However Daniel Artel, with his sense of humor and good nature that did not leave him even during difficult times, knew how to overcome and to establish himself in our Land. He was greatly respected in his environment, the environment of elderly people of his vintage.
He died in Haifa and left behind a family involved in the life of labor and the workers' movement.
Moshe Nagler (Moshe Feibush's)
In this list of families I will mention Moshe Nagler, who also made aliya in the wake of his daughter, a member of Kibbutz Merchavia in the Jezreel Valley. Nagler, who was called Moshe Feibush's in our town, was an upright Jew. He had lived in a sort of Jewish suburb of our town, where livelihood was earned partially from business and partially from agriculture and farming. He raised his children in the spirit of Torah and labor. He also suffered from difficulties in absorption during that era, but he slowly established himself in a life of labor in the Land, and died at an advanced age. He left behind his children who are involved in teaching and labor, and are doing their part in the upbuilding of the Land.
I will mention Yaakov Gerstal in a positive fashion. He was an expert building contractor already in the Diaspora, and he quickly became involved in his profession in the Land.
The widow Treiber, who made aliya in the wake of her son Anshel, a member of Beit Alfa and one of the first members of Hashomer Hatzair in our city, settled in Haifa and struggled greatly until she somehow became established along with her children. She accepted everything without complaint, in the manner of Gd fearing women.
Finally, it is my duty to mention here our dear friend Meir Kleist, who fell victim to a work accident in the Itlit quarries, which provided building materials for the Port of Haifa. He was still in his prime.
Meir arrived in the Land during the early 1920s, after his return to our town after spending the days of the First World War in Italy. He often entertained the tent dwellers in the Valley of Olives in Haifa, natives of our town who were unemployed, with his joviality and the Italian songs that he had learned while living there.
When he became established after no small amount of suffering, fate was cruel to him. He was killed in a work accident. We will remember him with sorrow and agony.
Manes the son of Feiga and Leib Bernas was born in Turka in 1903. After completing his high school studies, he continued studying in the high school for business in Vienna. He received the degree of Doctor of Economics from the University of Florence.
Upon his return to Turka, Manes joined the circle of his friends who were very active in Zionism. He was one of the founders of Gordonia, and later one of the active councilors of the chapter. He was a representative of his movement and party in the communal institutions of the town.
When he made aliya in 1935, he joined Kibbutz Kfar Hachoresh. He was forced to leave it for various reasons, and he moved to Haifa. He was a faithful and dedicated member of the Histadrut. He was a member of the Hagana, and was one of the first volunteers for the British Army during the Second World War, despite his older age. On account of his fluency in various languages and his academic credentials, he was placed in the air force, where he fulfilled important and responsible roles.
After his army service, he was accepted as an accountant in the Haifa Kupat Cholim. He fulfilled his role in that organization with great dedication. He was a member of the workers' council, where he was active and dedicated. Manes died in 1953, leaving behind a wife, Leah (nee Langenaur), a daughter, and a son.
Eizik did not merit witnessing the conclusion of this book. He responded to the editorial committee and wrote an article that is published in this book1. He witnessed the editing, but prophesied that he would not be able to witness the conclusion. A person knows what he foresees. Indeed, he left us before his time.
Eizik was a chalutz. He made aliya with the enthusiasm of Zionism. He participated in the upbuilding of the Land in a fine fashion, and loved every corner of it. All Turka natives knew him as someone who would help any new immigrant from his hometown, and therefore he was nicknamed the Consul of Turka. He was one of the founders and active members of the Organization of Turka Natives in Israel, and was the living spirit of the meetings and memorial events of the natives of our town.
He constantly struggled for justice, righteousness and truth in the Histadrut and the government. He was willing to expend his money and energy for the sake of justice. He gave his life on the altar of this struggle.
He did not recover after the death of his wife. He weakened continually until death overtook him. May his memory be a blessing.
Tovia Artel was born in Turka, Galicia, in 1911. He joined the Hashomer Hatzair movement during his youth, and was one of the active movers in the chapter. He spent a brief period with Kibbutz Massad in the Hachshara group in Lvov (he joined Kibbutz Tel Amel in Israel). He made aliya in 1939, and began working in aquaculture. He was modest and dedicated, always in good spirits, with a friendly spirit during his work. He joined the army a year and a half after his arrival, and he was sent to an artillery unit, in which he served for nearly five years in the Land and in Cyprus. When the brigade was founded, he joined it and was sent to Italy. He built his family while in army service, and had a son.
At the end of the war, Tovia returned from the army weary from his many wanderings. He desired to root himself in agriculture, and set himself in a permanent position. We also recognized his enthusiasm and desire to reconnect with a life of labor and society.
He was a quiet, modest man. He was dedicated to his family, loved his son, was faithful to the kibbutz, and forged his way of life there. He drew during his free time, and dreamed of the possibilities of developing
the arts in kibbutz life. Through his art, he brought joy to the members during festivals and internal parties. During his final days, he dreamed about renovations of the reading hall, which he volunteered to look after. He fulfilled the plans in abundance.
Death overtook him. The evil hand afflicted him and took him from us. He died on the Black Sabbath1.
(From a booklet published by Hashomer Hatzair, Tel Amel)
He was not one of the followers who respond Amen.
Itziu did not belong to those who are indifferent and comfortable, who let life pass by them. He approached the problems of our life by first weighing the worthwhileness of the matter. His entire essence was personal independence. He was constantly active in the storm of life. His categorical imperative was his conscience and the internal command such as is common with those forged of hard material.
Itziu was not easy with people. He often came into conflict with friends. However, at the same time, he was not easy with himself. He did not take upon himself the easy tasks. He was not concerned with the unpleasantness of stating the truth to a friend or to the entire kibbutz. He was always prepared to take the jabs of unpopularity and the danger of injury upon himself. He never hesitated to stand alone in his opinion. Alone, but not isolated, for even at times when he remained alone in his opinion, we recognized his spirit and knew that he was drawing from the depths of the clarity of his thought.
The art of pliability and adaptation were not his lot. However, he was graced with one fine trait: in his relationships with friends, he never left any sediment of bitterness neither in his own heart nor in the heart of his fellow. He would accept the judgment of the majority with willingness and love. We granted him that benefit. Even though he was often in the minority, he felt that he was not speaking into empty space, but rather to the hearts of friends always open to meet him.
Itziu was among the generation of the founders of the kibbutz. He was one of the early builders of our Merchavia, to which he remained faithful. His early childhood between the Carpathian Mountains and the rivers of Poland wove the dream of the return to the homeland, to labor, to agriculture, and to the dream of a collective group.
The fabric of our communal life is a living, building, creative, struggling, agonizing pattern. We do not create stones, stones in the arena of the farm, in the style of the collective kibbutz. Our group is made of cells, living cells; sustainers of the living organism.
Behold, one of those was taken from us. How can we fill the empty space that he left behind?
He drowned in the Kinneret.
(From a booklet published by Hashomer Hatzair, Merchavia.)
Necha Lerer, nee Bruner, has been taken from us here in Israel. Her revered image will remain etched in the hearts of her acquaintances who appreciated her, especially those who worked together with her.
Her activities already began at home, in the Hashomer Hatzair chapter of her native town of Turka. She left her studies in Lvov and returned to Turka, where she was one of the founders of Hechalutz in the city at that time, and was active as its secretary. At hachshara, Necha worked from sunrise to sunset with the knowledge that this is only the beginning of her pioneering actualization. Her name went before her who did not know her energy and her good heart?
Necha made aliya to the Land, where she settled in Kibbutz Nes Tziona. People enjoyed being with her in discussions and debates, and her opinion was taken seriously. She continued with her pioneering tradition when she left the kibbutz. Her work in the Committee of Working Mothers brought her renown in Nes Tziona. Her home was always open for advice and guidance.
Aliya absorption formed an important chapter of her life. She regarded this as holy work. She took care of all daytoday affairs. She would leave the house and help absorb new immigrants. She left room for others to follow in her footsteps.
Bitter fate cut off her young, pleasant life in the middle, to the agony of her family and the heartbreak of all her friends and acquaintances in Israel
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