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[Page 317]

Personalities, Characters, and Types

Translated by Ofra Anson

Edited by Yocheved Klausner

 

Political activists

 

Apollinaire Maximilian Heartglass

by Itzhak Greenboim

He was the youngest of us, our real “last born”. He joined “Kadima” (Forward), a group established in Warsaw University, during the early twentieth century. He came from Biala after graduating the local High–School with distinction. His father was a lawyer, and, as far as I know, it was the only Jewish home speaking Polish only.

This was all we knew about his background. We were not interested in our members' past, willingly adopting any person expressing devotion to Zionism. We were holding hands for over fifty years, and I still cannot understand how Heartglass, a high school student from Biala who had no Jewish education, became to be aware of, and love, the Jewish people, the nationalists, and the Zionists. I did not ask him, and he did not tell me; we had no time for such intimate relationships, being busy and continuously struggling, since the first day we met in the law faculty in Warsaw and in “Kadima”.

Young Heartglass was very capable, sharp minded, quick to perceive and analyze. He was broad minded. He used to write papers and scholarly researches, satirical poems and prose; he drew smart, witty, cartoons, and understood art and the history of it. He planned to move to Munich, to study in its well–known academy of art, and become a painter. This was his childhood dream. During meetings he was always drawing and scribbling while listening to the discussion, sometimes coming up with portraits of the participants. Yet he gave up this childhood dream, and went along the path paved by his parents: after graduation and army duty he went back home to work with his father's law firm. He worked with dedication, learning to enjoy the profession. Yet as long as he did not have a family of his own, he looked into other possibilities, such as journalism and Zionist activism. During these periods, he used to leave his parents' home, devoting himself to his new work. If one could make a living from journalism those days, it is very possible that he would have become a publicist. He completely neglected painting: he probably did not believe in his talent, and did not want to become an artisan painter.

Writing came easily to him. Polish was his first language. He and Kirshrot were our only members who had mastered the language like a Polish person. We used to tease him that even his slips of the tongue are of a Polish, rather than a Jewish, nature. We used to say that Jewish sayings and idioms emerged from his sub–conscious in a Polish form, though the Polish found it rather irritating and incomprehensible. He did not learn Hebrew as a child, but only when he started thinking that he will have to immigrate to Eretz Israel. Growing up in a Yiddish speaking town, he understood the language, but could not speak it. I once asked him to write his articles in Yiddish himself, and not rely on me to translate. When he showed me his paper, I could not believe how one can express his ideas in a language one only heard and absorbed unconsciously. Yet, he could not speak Yiddish. Even those who demanded that he speak Yiddish during meetings begged him to spare them, and return to Polish.

His articles and speeches never needed editing. His ideas were clear and written without any corrections. His stenographs were printed as is, each idea came out clearly from his mouth or pen without any need for rephrasing. During meetings and conferences, he used to formulate the decisions and the declarations while listening to the speakers.

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Not only was he quick to comprehend, but he could perceive the essence of another person's ideas.

He was an honest and truthful person, with a sense of dignity. He was not a quarrelsome person, but fought fiercely for his ideas and principles. He would not compromise on those; but on small, marginal matters he was ready to compromise in order to avoid anger and upsetting others. Personally, he did not believe that things would turn out all right. In his later years he was disappointed and pessimistic, regarding his own fate and that of the Jewish people and Zionism.

*

How did Heartglass become a Zionist? Now, that he is no longer with us, the only answer I can come up with is his sense of dignity, the dignity of a person who stands upright. Submission and humiliation caused him pain and anger. In a Hasidic language, I would say that he felt sorry for the Divine Spirit that wallowed in the dirt of the diaspora. When he demanded that we pursue an extreme action, when he rejected any compromise, he used to argue that our offended personal and national dignity requires taking a strong position.

I still remember the conversation we had on our way to the Sejm, during the long negotiations we had with the early Polish governments after Poland's independence. I did not believe that we could convince the government to accept even a few of our basic demands, but we did not want to be blamed for stopping the negotiation. Heartglass, however, argued that long discussions that bring us nowhere were humiliating, and allowed the Polish government to present itself as liberal, ready to come to terms with the Jews. He convinced me to stop the negotiations, and so we did. He was right: no negative consequences were apparent, and we gained more respect.

Kirshrot became a Zionist because he felt attached to Judaism, and believed that assimilation was immoral. He was third generation to an assimilated family. Similarly, Goldsmith (Janusz Korczak) found his way to his people following his frustration from the big lie of his assimilated environment. But Heartglass came because of his offended human dignity – not necessarily in Poland, but in the diaspora in general, and the lack of a homeland, unlike any other people. It was a “gentile” kind of Zionism, but it withstood all the difficulties and illusions, unlike many others who had been deeply rooted in Judaism. Over the past fifty years we have experienced difficulties that shook the foundations of our lives; there have been disappointments and temptations. Some were not strong enough and left us. Yet, Heartglass remained loyal to his people and to Zionism, despite his bitter disappointment from what was happening in our country.

Was it the effect of the Polish concept of “honor”? Possibly yes. Yet for the Polish, “honor” lost its true meaning and became false, masking degradation and cheating. For Heartglass it was a pure, sacred, feeling, rooted in the poor condition of the Jewish people living in the diaspora. Zionism based on such a foundation is long lasting and withstands all temptations and obstacles.

*

For fifty years we went hand by hand; since we started our Zionist activity, as university students, until today, after the establishment of the State of Israel. We fought together for Zionism and for Polish Jewry. Together we won a few struggles, and were defeated many times; yet it was always for the Polish Jews and the Zionist movement in Poland and worldwide. There are people, close friends as well as others, who thought they can tear us apart, to set one of us against the other; sometimes they thought they succeeded, they could not imagine that we were completely coordinated, even when Heartglass was appointed to chair the Jewish representatives in the Polish parliament. Even when I decided to leave Poland, when I felt that many Jews were tired of fighting and needed a rest, I knew that Heartglass would stand strong, keep up our people's struggle for its rights and freedom, and first and foremost – for its dignity and soul.

And he did. He kept up Zionist activity during the terrible period of Poland's decline and the adjustment of the Zionist majority to this decline to the degree of accepting the right for parliament representation from a hostile national democratic government, which felt it was time to fulfill its dream and get rid of the Jews from Poland. Together with others who kept up the tradition of struggle, Heartglass kept fighting until Poland collapsed and the murderers invaded Poland.

Heartglass could not believe that a war was going to take place, and that the German nation would lose its humanity under Hitler. He thought that if all the Allies, including Russia, had joined forces from the beginning, Poland would not have been conquered and the Jews would have escaped the Holocaust. All his life he believed there is no penance for that sin. His own world and life were ruined with the demolishing of Poland's Jews.

The Nazis went after him, and almost captured him. Nevertheless, he succeeded in fleeing and joining his daughter in Israel. He never forgave

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himself for leaving the Polish Jews in such a desperate time, though he knew that the choice was flight or death.

He could not find his place in Israel. His heart remained in Poland with his brothers and their troubles. He deceived himself that the news of terror, humiliation, and then the extermination, were just exaggeration. His rich experience from the National Council he had chaired taught him that the rumors about the troubles of the Jews were often exaggerated. He learnt to feel the truth. This time, however, he refused to know, like a man who sees his loved ones struggle with death and would not admit that they are going to die. He worked in the Rescue Committee, editing bulletins, and saw all the news coming from Poland – but he refused to believe. Once he told me that he had heard that Jewish children are concentrated in a camp close to Lodz waiting for extermination. When he learnt that the children were killed he tried to commit suicide. Yet, he took the wrong dose and survived.

He forced me to agree to return to work for the management of the Jewish Agency, which I left because of severe disagreement, and he will not take his own life. We both kept our word.

*

The Poland born leaders of the settlers in Israel before independence knew about Heartglass; others did not. When he came to Israel, he did not get the working and activity positions he should have received. Naturally, I did all I could to get him a job. Yet he sat at meetings and said nothing. His Hebrew was not good enough, and he lacked the character to push himself through locked doors. He was not capable of promoting himself and demand compensation for his past work. He did not knock on doors, and did not search for intimacy with influential persons. He felt that he will lose face if he demanded recognition for his past activity. Thus, his talent and knowledge of law and politics were not used. When I spoke on his behalf people did not believe me, but I knew that knowledge and experience earned in Poland or in Czarist Russia were not considered relevant. These people never realized that in the future they would largely follow in the steps taken by Poland before WWII, thinking that they follow Britain and the USA.

When I became Minister of Interior Affairs, I appointed Heartglass to be the director–general, and we renewed the collaboration we started at the Jewish National Council and its representatives in the Polish parliament. Heartglass resumed writing letters, preparing law proposals, and being involved in all the office affairs next to me. These were his happiest days in Israel, and possibly in all his life. I have a sense that he was a bit angry with me that I did not keep my ministerial position, and easily gave it up.

He had no choice but to stay in the ministry after I left. I was appointed to the inquiry committee of the Jewish Agency, and he wanted to move with me and practice law. Yet there was no room for him in my new office. Shapira, who took the ministry after me, recognized Heartglass's ability, but was committed to appoint the head of his party as Director General. He kept Heartglass as a consultant and used to discuss serious matters with him. Things got worse for him after Shapira left the ministry. By then he already suffered from a serious heart disease. He tried to disregard it, and continue to fulfill his duty. I often asked him to take it easy – but he would not listen.

*

Such were the life and the death of Maximilian Heartglass, who chaired the Zionist Federation in Poland just before WWII; who was the director of the National Committee for Jewish affairs; the head of the parliamentary delegation of the Jews in Poland for quite a while during the first Sejm; a Director General of the Ministry of Interior and, later, a consultant. This was how his outstanding talent and rich experience were used in Israel, the country he dreamt of, and to which he devoted his strength and capabilities all his life.

(“Al Hamishmar” No. 2950, 29.3.1953)


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1. Apollinaire Heartglass

by M. Y. Feigenboim

Apollinaire Heartglass was born in Biala on April 7th, 1883. His father, Kalman Heartglass was a lawyer who came to Biala from Warsaw. Apollinaire, like his siblings, was raised in an assimilated Polish home. It was largely his mother who sought to isolate herself and her children from Jewish society. His father, on the other hand, was drawn to the synagogue, spoke fluent Yiddish, and for a while even served as a supervisor in the Jewish community.

Heartglass studied in the Russian high school, and had nothing to do with Judaism. In his article “Times are changing” (“Life in Podlaska”, no. 6, Fabruary 11th, 1927) he wrote that Jewish children, who thought that he was not Jewish, beat him and injured his head.

In a letter he sent me, he wrote, among other things: “Our home was completely assimilated; my father was the only one with some Jewish, Zionist, inclination. Life at home was Polish. As for myself – I considered converting to Catholicism upon finishing high school. Yiddish was not spoken at home; I learnt Yiddish later in life, so I would be able to address Jews in my articles. We did not associate with Jews; all my friends were Christian workers from Biala. We had no Jewish life, except for the Jewish holidays. Later, other Jewish students joined my high school, but they were Russian speaking Litvaks. They treated me like a stranger, though, in general, we were on good terms. The Jewish population was also a stranger to me. We had no relatives in Biala; my mother had an old aunt, Sara Zaltzman, who died when I was young. I remember that, once in a while, I used to enter her shop, located at the end of Lubelske Street and Kishive Street. Suddenly, when I was about 17 years old, with no apparent reason, I realized I was Jewish. I left all my Polish friends, and I declared that from now on I will not be able to be part of their social circles. They accepted my declaration with understanding, telling me I was right. We remained friendly until I fled Warsaw in December 1939. A few of them visited me in Israel after 1946, and we are still in correspondence.”

Apollinaire Heartglass graduated from high school with distinction, and went to Warsaw University to study law. There he met Jewish students who were committed nationalists, and, it seems that under their influence he became a Zionist.

Heartglass was sentenced to a month in jail for demonstrating against Warsaw's theater when they produced the anti–Semitic play “Rosmaitashtshi”. There he met Baruch Weinberg, who had been brought from Biala to the Warsaw jail because of revolutionary activity. Baruch Weinberg wrote about Heartglass: “Years later, when I returned from Siberia for the first time, I was a very good friend of Apollinaire Heartglass. He was a very good person, not a snob, he was modest and honest. When I first met him in Jail in Warsaw, where he was held in custody for a month's “administrative period” for taking part in a students' demonstration, he did me a great favor in smuggling out a lot of my writings when he was released, and generously distributed them” (“Life in Podlaska”, No. 31/63, December 16th, 1932).

Every time Apollinaire Heartglass came home from Warsaw he used to meet with the Zionists in Biala, take part in their activities and help them organizing themselves.

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His mother's efforts to assimilate her children completely into the Polish society were of no avail. It appears that the echo of the uprising of the Jewish street penetrated the Heartglass's house, the voice of Jewish national and socialist struggles affected the children, who realized they were Jewish and joined their people. Heartglass's brothers and sisters volunteered to give lectures to the town youth and participate in folk–culture activities, gaining even the trust of the Jewish workers.

Apart from Apollinaire, his younger brother Josef also was an active Zionist. After he earned a law and mathematics degree from Warsaw University, in 1913, he went to Kiev, were he was active as a law consultant.

At the time of the Petliura rule in Ukraine, Josef was an active member in the “Self–Defense” [Selbstschutz]. In 1919, while he was with some acquaintances, anti–Jewish demonstrations began in the street. His friends did not allow him to leave the house, but, as a member of the Selbstschutz he refused, and he fell in the fight against the Petliura rioters.

After he got his law diploma, Apollinaire Heartglass settled in Siedlce, where he became very active in its social life. At the end of the German occupation in Siedlce during WWI, he was tried by a military court for defending a Polish person who had been attacked by a German. It was a miracle that he survived. In the first election for the Siedlce municipality, he was elected as member of the municipal Council as representative of the Jewish Zionists. His brave speeches in the Municipal Council drew a lot of attention.

At that time Heartglass already has been very well known. In 1906 he participated in the Russian Zionist congress in Helsinki (Finland), and in 1907 in the congress in Prague.

Heartglass's greatest breakthrough was his election as representative in the Sejm. His knowledge of law and the Polish language made him one of the bravest fighters for the rights of the Jews in Poland. In 1926, after the “Ogoda” agreement (between the Polish government and the Jewish representatives Dr. Joshua (Abraham Osjasz [1]) Thon and Dr. Leon Reich, by which the Jews agreed to support the government in return for more rights for the Jewish people [2]) collapsed, Heartglass became an excellent representative of Jewish affairs in the Sejm.

Each year Heartglass came to the cemetery in his hometown, Biala, to pay his respects to his late father. It was also an opportunity to report to the local community a summary of the Jewish delegates' activity in the Sejm. Not only the Jews came to listen to his reports, but also Christians, even those of higher ranks. The latter could never have enough of his fluent, elegant Polish, despite having to hear his harsh criticism of the way the Polish government treats its Jewish population.

Though he was almost completely absorbed into Polish politics, he found time for Zionist activity. Thus, he went to the Zionist Congresses of 1921, 1923, and 1929. Up to WWII he chaired the Zionist organization in Poland. In 1939 he was the Polish Zionist delegate at the “Round Table” conference in London.

Along with his political activity and practicing law, he was also involved in writing, in Polish, Russian, and Yiddish. He started his journalistic career in 1906, in the Polish newspaper “Glass Szidovski” (“The Jewish Voice”). He wrote in Professor Martin Buber's newspaper “Der Jude” (in German, “the Jew”); in Zionist publications such as “Chodesh” (“Month”, 1921), “From the Bygone Days” – about the Polish–Bolshevik war. He himself edited the Polish publications “Tigadnik Szidovski” (“The Jewish Periodical”) and “Zshisitzie Szidovskie” (“Jewish life”). The last years before WWII he worked steadily in the Polish Journal “Apinie” (“Opinion” O.A.). His first article was translated to Yiddish and published in “Siedlce Laibn” in 1912 (“Life in Siedlce”, O.A.). In 1918/19 he worked in the Zionistic daily “Dos Yiddishe Folk” (“The Jewish People”, O.A.). This newspaper closed in 1920, and Heartglass moved to write for “Heynt” (“Today”, O.A.) published in Warsaw. He taught himself to write in Yiddish, and discussed Jewish politics in Poland and Zionistic matters in general. From under his pen came pamphlets and books such as: “Territory and People” (Russian, 1906); “The Basic Ground for the Land–Politics of the Zionists in Poland” (Polish, 1918); his speeches from 1919–1922; “The Jewish National Council in Poland” (Warsaw, 1923). In 1944, the Jewish Agency published in Israel his Polish pamphlet “Know the Country”, for Polish people who came to Eretz Israel during the war.

His years in Israel are another chapter. When he heard the sad new about the tragedy of Polish Judaism, he could not find peace. Like another Polish Jew in London, A. Siglboim, Heartglass could not forgive himself for leaving the Polish Jews in their most difficult time, in their greatest need. He survived by accident, only to keep agonizing over the terrible news.

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Heartglass did have good days in Eretz Israel, for example at the establishment of the Jewish State, though these were rather short. The severe disease, which had no doubt been the result of his suicide attempt, had already taken its toll, ruining any possible joy in his life.

On March 23rd 1953 we lost our important townsman, a real representative of Polish Judaism. He is buried in the old Tel–Aviv cemetery on Trumpeldor Street.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. https://www.google.co.il/search?q=%D7%99%D7%94%D7%95%D7%A9%D7%A2+%D7%98%D7%94%D7%95%D7%9F&oq=hvuaug+yvi&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.11881j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8, 20.9.2018 Return
  2. https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%90%D7%95%D7%9F_%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%99%D7%9A ת 20/9/201 Return


2. Moshe Rubinstein

The name Moshe Rubinstein (my maternal uncle, O.A.) is associated with the most beautiful period in the Jewish life of Biala in the last generation. It may rightly be argued that he was the main personality who shaped this period. I am talking about the years of WWI and the first years of the Polish regime. It is no exaggeration to say that, in those years, Moshe Rubinstein was regarded as a prominent activist, who enjoyed recognition in the Zionist circles and was respected by his opponents. He made an enormous contribution to the Zionist movement in our town, and, indirectly, he also contributed a great deal to other parties (i.e. not socialist. O.A.) who, although opposing the Zionist struggle, under the leadership of Moshe Rubinstein had to rise to a much higher level, and learnt a lot from his political strategies. He was the first social activist in Biala, who taught his fellow activists how to behave in a parliamentary way in meetings and assemblies.

Moshe Rubinstein was an active Zionist since before WWI. Yet, then, the conditions did not allow him to let out the burning energy accumulated in him.

The German occupation in Biala during WWI, brought with it the opportunity to develop Jewish community life, and Moshe Rubinstein assumed these activities with all his talent and commitment. Thanks to him, various institutions were established, activities that the people never dared dream of, and he became the pride of the Jews in Biala.

Moshe Rubinstein was the initiator and the founder of the fully Hebrew school, Yavneh, which he directed. And when arguments broke out, and he left the running of the school, it rapidly went downhill, the level of studies dropped, and it closed down. Around the Yavneh School Moshe Rubinstein organized flourishing Zionist activities. In after school hours the building became a Zionist Beit Am (“People's House”, a cultural center, O.A.). Who does not remember the beautiful Children's house of WWI? It was also Moshe Rubinstein's initiative.

All his time and energy he invested in organizing the Zionists in Biala, and with great success. Because of him, Biala, a provincial town, became known as one of the most active in Poland. Who does not remember the lively activities that took place in Beit Ha'am in Biala? No other party in Biala was as active as the Zionist party. If Biala had Maccabi, so loved by the Jewish citizens, it is also because of Moshe Rubinstein, who inspired the creation of the national sport organization. He helped Maccabi to develop, accompanying its activity with his alert eyes.

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When the first youth movement, Hashomer Hatza'ir, was established in Biala, Moshe Rubinstein helped with the organization and took an active part in shaping its national character. Many activities took place during this period, both political and cultural. It is unbelievable how Moshe Rubinstein, this Zionist activist, mobilized the great majority of Biala's youth to take part in these activities.

Moshe Rubinstein also tried to legalize at least part of the Zionist institutions and initiations. Through these efforts, he earned recognition and respect among the Christians as well as among the Jews. At one point, the local council and the leaders of the Jewish community considered having a Jewish deputy–mayor. The Polish political party agreed to support it under the condition that Moshe Rubinstein will be the candidate. However, he was already getting ready to immigrate to Israel.

It was not easy for Moshe Rubinstein to organize all Zionist organizations in town under one roof. Except for motivation and organizing ability, of which he was not short, it was also necessary to conduct a bitter campaign with the other Jewish parties in Biala. Here too he excelled, unwilling to compromise any of his Zionist principles. The struggle with the Aguda (ultra–orthodox party) was another chapter in the life and activity of Moshe Rubinstein. Since Rabbi Shmuel Leib Zak was associated with Aguda, it was actually a struggle against the chief Rabbi of Biala. Moshe Rubinstein threw himself enthusiastically into this struggle, and thanks to his activity, the influence of the orthodox declined. In those days, having an open dispute with the town's rabbi was not easy, and demanded a lot of courage.

When the town's rabbi ordered the closing of the synagogue to prevent the Zionists from holding a memorial meeting for the late Zionist leader, Dr. Yehiel Tchlenow, Moshe Rubinstein decided to open the door form the inside, and the Maccabi youth carried it out. One has to be familiar with that “arena” to be able to appreciate such action. When the rabbi of Biala supported “Aguda” in the elections, Moshe Rubinstein stood against him with no fear whatsoever. He led the campaign by calling for assemblies, and especially by publishing in the free–distributed newspaper Bialer Echo (“The Echo of Biala”, O.A.). Having a printed newspaper for the first time in town, by itself was an outstanding achievement of this brave Zionist leader.

The rabbi of Biala decided to forbid the famous cantor, Gershon Sirota, from giving a concert on behalf of the Zionist organization, but his efforts were of no avail. At first Gershon Sirota complied with the rabbi's letter. Moshe Rubinstein, however, knew who had more influence on Sirota than the rabbi, and sent this person to change his mind. Gershon Sirota came to Biala, and with his great artistic talent increased nicely the Zionists elections fund.

Moshe Rubinstein had an open campaign against the opponents of Zionism; all his opponents respected him for his honest and noble behavior. When the help–committee was set up in Biala, with resources that came from the Central Committee of the JOINT in Warsaw, it was clear to all that Moshe Rubinstein should be its chair.

During the invasion period of 1920, Moshe Rubinstein collected evidence of the anti–Jewish events and secretly sent it to the Jewish delegates in the Sejm in Warsaw. When the Bolsheviks occupied the town and started to set up their administration, they turned to Moshe Rubinstein to take responsibility for the Jewish children to attend school. He took his time, until the Bolsheviks were suddenly evacuated. The central Zionist committee in Warsaw learnt to appreciate the Zionist organization in Biala, and in many important activities relied on the local activists.

At the beginning of 1921, Moshe Rubinstein was invited to work in the central Zionist committee, and moved to Warsaw. There he worked closely with Izsak Grinboim, and they became friends to this day. With his move to Warsaw, the Zionist activity in Biala, naturally, declined. In 1923, with the rise of the dispute around the question of enlarging the Jewish Agency, he took the radical position and joined Al Hamishmar. When the right–wing group, Et Livnot (“Time to Build”, O.A.) became the majority, he left his work in the Zionist central committee along with other members of Al Hamishmar.

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Moshe Rubinstein lived up to his principles. He practiced himself what he preached to others. In 1925, he left Poland for Eretz Israel. In Eretz Israel he did not look for clerical work, he did not go around telling others what he did in Poland, nor did he ask to be compensated for his Zionist activity. He took hard, physical work, which he had never done before. In 1926–1928, he worked in “Zionist Leaves” which was distributed in Warsaw with the Al Hamishmar newspaper, and wrote a column by the name of “Letters from Eretz Israel”.

In the years to come he became active in the American Zionist society, never pushing himself to a higher position. When he met with people from Biala, his old hometown, he surely remembered the lively period his life, of which he had all the reasons to be proud.

[Translator's note: Moshe Rubinstein was my mother's eldest brother. We adored him, and considered him the head of our extended family. He had four daughters, nine grandchildren, and after he left us a number of great–grandchildren were born.]


3. Joshua Fisher

Joshua Fisher was not born in Biala; he came from Minsk–Mazowiecki. He came to Biala after he got married. In his youth he was strongly built, always walked quickly, his eyes looking around, and had a handsome face.

He opened a tavern, and immediately showed every one that he is not afraid of the strong lads or the informers. First, because he had an iron fist; secondly, he could speak Polish better than all the informers could.

Joshua Fisher, however, was nor a typical tavern–owner, as we knew them in Biala. He was a learned man, who used to read a lot. One could find at his place the Hebrew newspaper Hatzfira, and on Saturdays one would find him reading the Bible or Ahad Ha'am's book Al Parahsat Drachim (At the Crossroads, O.A.).

He belonged to the Radzyn Hassidim, but, at the same time, was an enthusiastic Hovev Zion (Lover of Zion, O.A.). He was not an active Zionist because of his father's objection. Yet, the minute his father dropped his objection, Joshua Fisher took on Zionist work with all his heart. He started a branch of the Odessa Palestine Committee and kept connections with Odessa. He started to recruit supporters to the Zionist idea from the orthodox community. He held meetings of Hovevei Zion in his home, where youngsters used to sneak in so that nobody would recognize them.

Joshua Fisher was the first in Biala to send out young men with bowls to collect money for Eretz Israel in religious learning places, synagogues, and cemeteries on Yom Kippur eve. When a Hassid from Gur tried to throw the bowl to the ground, he received such an earful from Joshua Fisher, that he never again came close to a bowl.

In those days, a very famous feldsher (equivalent to an assistant–physician in the USA, O.A.) lived in Biala, Meir Michel Laufman. He was known for his large medical practice, and his success in healing the sick. Yet he was a very difficult man, nobody would go against him. Joshua Fisher, however, did stand up to him. When a few members of Joshua Fisher's wife's family fell sick, and wanted to call on Meir Michel for help, Joshua Fisher called in physicians and other feldshers.

In his tavern, he used to bring together activists for the illegal Polish Socialist Party (PPS), and quite a few campaigns were instigated there. Since the activists were not very literate, Joshua Fisher was their secretary and reported their activities to the center in Siedlce. They used to talk with him and consult him. His collaboration with them enabled him to prevent a pogrom in Biala, after there was one in Siedlce. Thanks to his intervention among the PPS activists, the Jews in Biala escaped bloodshed. His underground name in the PPS was “Grubi”.

The PPS activists liked and completely trusted this Jew with his little Jewish hat, and they came to him for help in the most difficult moments. One such episode is worth telling.

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The Christian workers of one factory decided to strike, although the PPS was against it. A leader from Siedlce was sent to the workers' meeting, to convince them that the strike was not necessary. The local PPS activists were surprised that he could not convince the workers, who were determined to achieve their goal. They called in Joshua Fisher in a hurry, who spoke to the workers, explained to them why the strike would not lead anywhere, and convinced them with his burning words.

During WWI Joshua Fisher did not own a tavern any more, but dealt with gas–lamps and with distributing gas.

During the war, he built the Yavneh School, and his wife, Rivka, was one of the founders of the children's home.

Joshua Fisher was one of the founders of Beit Ha'am, but did not stay there for long. He left it and the Zionist organization because they did not keep Shabbat. Nevertheless, he did not sit idle. At that time Hamizrahi started operating in town, and religious youngsters joined it.

Joshua Fisher was among the few who were not afraid to stand up to strong people. He got annoyed with the Radzyn synagogue and left to pray in Tarshish; there he had an argument with one of the rich persons and moved to the Bet–Hamidrash [House of Torah study].

After Polish independence, Joshua Fisher was involved in the elections to the first Sejm and Senate. In the elections of the Jewish community, he came again into conflict with the Zionist organization, as he demanded harsher struggle against “Aguda”.

With the Bolshevik invasion in 1920, and the withdrawal of the Russian army, Polish soldiers took Joshua Fisher from his home with the intention of executing him. By chance, the court attendant, Stanislaw, saw it from far away and came running to save Joshua Fisher from certain death.

A little later, when life started to go back to normal, Joshua Fisher and some friends of his conducted a large colonial business. One morning they closed everything and Joshua Fisher with his partner, Moshe Braverman, went to Eretz Israel.

When they arrived, he was worried about Braverman, and what he would do in Eretz Israel. For himself he did not worry as much. After a while, Braverman found a job in a bank, while Joshua Fisher suffered, working in different hard, physical, jobs.

Nevertheless, as he once told me, he had always been drawn to agriculture, and this is what he wanted to do in Eretz Israel. A few years later, he had an opportunity to fulfil his dream. A group of religious persons went to start a new settlement, known today as Kfar Ata, where the successful textile factory Ata was located.

The difficulties that Joshua Fisher encountered in Kfar Ata, and the things he did there, are an important chapter of this settlement. Here I want to write only about one dramatic moment.

The Arab neighbors gave Kfar Ata a lot of trouble. Among them was one shepherd who stood out in his anti–Jewish actions, and was considered by his partners a big hero. One evening, Joshua Fisher and another man went to their fields; suddenly, the shepherd hero and another Arab were right in front of them, taking their sheep to pasture in the Jewish cultivated fields. Joshua Fisher ordered them to leave immediately, but they started a fight. Joshua Fisher turned to the hero, severely beat him, and took his shepherd's stick. The other Jew struggled with the second Arab. Once Joshua Fisher finished with the hero, he turned to help his mate, leaving in the field two badly wounded Arabs.

The blows the hero suffered made quite an impression, and after that the Arab neighbors let the Jewish settlers alone. The beaten hero came back to ask for the stick Joshua Fisher had taken from him, a stick that looked like a baton. Joshua Fisher did not want to part from the baton he won, and the hero left in disgrace.

Joshua Fisher was among those who appeared before the British investigation committee in Eretz Israel after the riots of 1929. There he heard so many lies, and he took is so hard, that it broke his spirit. He was sick for a long time.

The hard life Joshua Fisher had was shared by his devoted wife, Rivka Fisher, who was a social activist in Biala.

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During the regime of the Russian Czar, her home in Biala was a meeting place for Zionists, and a number of Zionist institutions were founded there.

When the Keren Hage'ulah Fund was established, she donated almost all her jewelry to the fund.

Adjusting to Eretz Israel and the hard physical labor she had never done before, did not come easy to Rivka Fisher. Yet, she accepted every hardship with love, and never complained. Taking part in building the country filled her with joy.

If you come to Kfar Ata and ask about Mr. Fisher, even the youngest child will immediately show you the house of the most important man, the first mayor of Kfar Ata.

Joshua and Rivka Fisher grew old in sickness and misery. In their later years they ran the charity fund for the needy in Kfar Ata.


Moshe Smolyor

by Jacob Aaron Rosenboim

Jacob Aaron Rosenboim was a devoted, valuable member of the community. For him, public activity was not a means for his own benefit. He was a man of European manners, was at home in the Russian language and literature. He contributed original ideas and new meanings to each conversation. We had the feeling that he carried us with him to the well of wisdom from which he drew for many years. He belonged to the generation of the Maskilim (a Jewish social movement that sought to combine one's general education with Jewish religious way of life), for whom the struggle between Jewishness and being a Mentch (human being, O.A.) had not been reconciled. He did not neglect the Talith, but he did not stick to tradition. I always felt that he has succeeded to find the main road. Being a Jew and being a Mentch were very clearly expressed by him. With his gentle soul, his pure conduct, his attraction to people and social life, he was a complete Mentch, in a way that only those who were deeply rooted in the Jewish tradition and, at the same time, drank from European culture could be.

Tolstoy and Gorky, the distinguished Russian writers, were his favorites. Yet a conversation could not end without his mentioning Mendele Mocher Sforim and Shalom Aleikhem. As an educated person, at the beginning of the 20th century, his knowledge was broad and sound. He could cite chapters written by Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Bialik, Tchernichovsky, and others. He did a lot for the people in town. He handled the loan–bank; he was a chair of the Zionist Organization; he always represented the Zionist party in the community; he was the head of the community council; he was the representative of the Zionists in the municipal council; ran the “Tarbuth” society, was active in several other organizations and institutions and participated in the weekly newspapers that appeared in town. He was well known and respected in Jewish circles.

Jacob Aaron was a devoted Zionist. He came to the Zionist movement with the Maskilim generation. The truth is that he did not wait for the revolution to bring relief, so he did not become a Zionist because he was desperate. He always saw Zionism as a means to heal the Jewish people and gather it in Eretz Israel.

WWI, the death of millions, the destruction of towns, and later the pogroms in Ukraine and Poland, strengthened his Zionist commitment, to which he devoted a large part of his life.

He was a Zionist activist, not expecting any personal reward. He was active with the National Funds – the Jewish National fund and the United Israel Appeal. He wished to establish a Hebrew Tarbut school in Biala. He planned it for a long time, but was not able to bring it to fruition. He loved the Hebrew language, and saw it as an important element of Zionist education.

He brought his daughters and son to follow him to Zionism. He made sure that his children, too, would absorb the best of both Jewish culture and the world's treasures. He sent them to study at the Polish High School, but made sure they also had a Jewish education.

In 1939, when the German Polish war was over, the Jews in Biala started to flee to Brest, then in Russia. I heard a rumor that Jacob Aaron Rosenboim was among the refugees.

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I made every effort to find him and to invite him to stay with me, but I did not find him. I later heard that he returned to Biala to be with his wife and son.

After the war, I learnt that during the Nazi–occupation Jacob Aaron Rosenboim was active in the Jewish community, bravely representing the interests of the Jews during this tragic period. In this cruel time, he risked his life with false Nazi documents, hoping that one day he will see the light again. With others, he was sent to the Majdanek concentration camp in the last transport.


Baruch Weinberg

Baruch Weinberg was very well known in his hometown, Biala Podlaska. He was known for his honesty and sense of justice; he could not stand any injustice. He hated exploitation, and was the fear of employers. When people wanted to mock someone for their revolutionary talk, they used to say: “Ah, he is growing to be a Baruch”…

Baruch was the founder of the Bund in Biala, and he gave it all his heart. He was a carpenter, but he organized strikes not only in his workshop, but also in other occupations as well. He had good rhetoric ability, and was popular as a revolution advocate. He was blessed with natural intelligence, which he cultivated by reading both Jewish and general literature; he developed like a real propaganda person, armed with a broad knowledge of socialism, working conditions and rights. He became so famous, that the police kept their eye on him; he was arrested and twice sent to Siberia. From Siberia, he managed to escape to London.

After he a while he gave up carpentry, and studied printing. He used each free moment to develop social activities. He became Morris Meyer's partner in the Yiddish newspaper, Di Zeit (The Time, O.A.), and published himself a weekly under the name Der Freind. When he opened his own printing shop, he became the publisher of Dr. M. Zalkind's Yiddish translation of the Talmud (only tractate Berakhot appeared in print), investing in it a lot of love and quite a big sum of money.

Being ideologically a left wing socialist and an activist, Baruch Weinberg was the president of the “Workers' Circle” in London. Yet, his love for Jewish culture and the Yiddish language were so great, that he compromised his party's ideology and accepted any Jewish cultural activist with open arms.

In 1937, he went to America to visit his brother Joshua, and the immigrants from Biala organized a warm welcome for him. From all across the county people came to see the famous “Baruch”, whom everybody kept talking about.

He passed away in July 14th, 1941, in London.

(From “Theater Notebooks”, New York, 1943).

[Translator's note: Baruch Weinberg was my father's uncle].


Yeshayahu Weinberg

He was born in Biala on June 15th, 1888. He was drawn to revolutionary activity when he was still a schoolchild, and went through all the phases of that vigorous period: secret meetings, jail, demonstrations, Cossack pogroms, etc. At the same time, he swallowed literature, both Jewish and general, like a hungry person, and became an autodidact. In December 1905, he moved to London. He became an active member of a theatre club, searched for the finest concerts and best English theater performances, studied art and became a walking encyclopedia of art. He became the secretary of the “Amalgamated Society of Tailors and Seamstresses.” He founded the Hazamir (Nightingale, O.A.) Association, and was one of the founders of the “Workers' Circle”. Later he started writing in Di Zeit, under the pseudonym Molomut, about theater and music. In 1915/16, he became very active in the “Russian Immigrants' Committee” and one of the founders of the Temple Theatre.

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In 1920, Weinberg came to America, and a bit later, he became the local editor of Forwards in Detroit, where he started his journalism and social activities. He wrote under the pseudonyms “Brandweiss”, “Winogorski”, “Meloman”, “X”, “Riverson”. The crowning glory of his work was his book in Yiddish, “The Jewish Institutions and Schools in Detroit”, which received very good reviews from all Yiddish critics.

For several decades, first in London and then in Detroit, he threw himself wholeheartedly into Jewish cultural work, helped all cultural institutions with counsel and activity, and donated funds from his own pocket to meet their needs. Weinberg cultivated Yiddish theater in particular, not only by writing reviews, but also by advocating for the importance of maintaining the Yiddish language. His home was open to all theater lovers.

In his last years, Joshua Weinberg was very sick. Yet, like a committed soldier, he did not step down from his duties. On April 15th 1943, his weak heart stopped beating.

(From “Theater Notebooks”, New York, 1943).


1. Elie Shimsheles (Elijahu Yustman)

by Gdaliahu Braverman

If you came to Biala at the beginning of the Bund's activity, and asked the workers who brought about the greatest achievements for their organization, you were sure to hear the name of Elie Shimsheles.

Elie Shimsheles was born in an extremely poor home. His father was a baker. The boy had a strong will to study, and envied the children whose parents sent them to teachers, where they would learn to write Yiddish and Russian as well as math, and bring home copybooks full of round, written letters. Elie's father did not have money for tuition fees; he did not have money even for copybooks. He promised little Elie that, as soon as he (Elie) will start working, from his first salary, he would start learning. So, when Elie became 12 years old, he was sent to a carpenter to learn the profession, hoping that he would soon start earning.

It is easy to say “he would soon earn money”; to make money he had first to learn the skills, and at that time, this did not happen quickly. The new apprentice spent the first few years as a servant, serving the master and the other workers, not to mention the master's wife. The apprentice–in–training was sent to bring food from the house to the workshop, or shopping, rather than learn the profession. When he was asked to do something close to carpentry, it was usually to sharpen the tools. This is how days and months passed by. When Elie got enough courage to ask the workers for a piece of wood to try sawing or polishing, they used to mock him: –– look at this tot, he is in a hurry – and ask him with an evil smile: –– aren't you ready to be a master yet?…

For three years, Elie learnt almost nothing. When the Bund started operating in Biala at the turn of the century (20th, O.A.), one of its first activities was to change the conditions of the apprentice children.

Elijahu Bobkes (Hoffman) and Baruch Weinberg came to work with the same master, Shmile Shome Simels (Samuel [Friedman] Shamai Simels). They taught Elie and, in a short while, he became a carpenter.

During work, Elie found out that Elijahu Bobkes and Baruch had some secrets, whispering and transferring small packages they hid in the tall boxes. When Elie became more friendly with the two new workers, he asked them about the packages. This is how Elie Shimsheles learnt about the revolutionary group.

When Elie, who had a soft heart and mourned the deep poverty of his parents and people like them, heard that there are people that are ready to fight for others, he felt that his wishes come true and that he must join the fight with all his might.

In 1903, when the Bund grew and became a large organization, Elie Shimsheles was already an important activist in town.

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People respected him, and he was accepted by all because of his simple way of behavior and original thought. He did not use high language and complicated sentences, drawn from written materials –– as was the fashion those days –– in order to demonstrate intelligence. On the other hand, he took it upon himself to deal with matters that others did not want to do. If there was a dispute between an employer and his employees, Elie went to talk with the stubborn employer, and this was often enough to soften the latter's heart and to give in to his workers' demands.

Elie started reading and studied the problems that concerned either him or the working force. In the Bund, he ran a group of the more knowledgeable members.

With time, Elie became the central nerve of the Bund in the town, member of the most secret Bund committee, which was at the top of the party.

Elie had a natural rhetoric talent, something quite rare in those days. He had a lot of success with any audience. If a poor speaker was sent to Biala from the region, and Elie saw that the audiences were falling asleep, he would come forward and the participants would wake up. He knew how to approach people and to speak to their hearts and feelings.

David Kruses, who was in Paris and had the opportunity to hear some good speakers, wrote that if Elie was in Paris and went into politics, he would have been one of the more popular speakers.

More than half a century has passed, and I still feel Elie's warm and lovely approach to all around him. His consistent readiness to be involved in action gave us the feeling that we stand in front of a prophet who sees the future.

Later, after the failure of the revolution, the Bund's activity in Biala died away, the beautiful dream dissipated, and the hearts were filled with deep despair. Elie decided to start a theater club in town. With this step, he meant to fight the apathy of the workers and cultivate their interest in cultural activities.

During the first period of his Bundist activity, Elie thought about starting a library. His initiative brought about the beginning of an illegal library in town. I myself was among the founders of this library and those who ran it until it was destroyed by the German vandals. I regularly saw, with my own eyes, its first creator, Elie Shimsheles.

About 1907, Elie and his girlfriend, Dovale the joker's daughter, left Poland. A long time we did not hear from him. I could not believe that such devoted activist for the workers will step aside and give up his work for workers' rights. It hurt me much when after a while I learnt that Elie was in America, running a grocery store, and struggling to make ends meet.


2. David Kruses (Goldfarb)

The son of orthodox parents, a student in a Hasidic religious school, he was attracted to the revolutionary movement, which penetrated into religious institutions, too. He replaced the religious books with general ones, and committed himself to revolutionary activity.

At that time, David Kruses was the representative of the Bund in Biala. He frequently appeared in assemblies, where he defended the attitudes of the Bund, and was well accepted by the public.

There were times when the progressive intelligentsia in town considered him as trouble. Thirsty for knowledge, he turned to the Jewish high school, and learnt a lot from it. He initiated an intelligentsia–club, where high school students met with advanced laborers. The club used to get together in Jacob Steinman, the teacher's, apartment, where they used to talk about current political issues and read about different cultural characters.

David Kruses was drawn to the big world. The small town really suffocated him, especially after the Bund's activity ceased because of the failure of the revolution.

[Page 330]

He decided to go to Paris, the cultural center in the eyes of many young people.

He left for Paris about 1909. He sent letters back to Biala, reporting his impression from the large sphinx, Paris.

Soon after he arrived in Paris, David, the simple boy, who felt for social problems and had the workers needs in front of him, saw the poor state of the French workers. In his letters he told us that the working class is excluded from the Parisian paradise and enjoy very little luxury.

David was soon disenchanted by the glowing beauty of Paris, and within two years returned to Biala. Some misunderstanding at the border led to his arrest for few months.

He came out of jail depressed and bitter. From time to time, he took a group of Bundists out to the field for a lecture. Yet he did not talk about politics, but about everyday problems.

After he returned from Paris, David became depressed, not interested in earning a living. He gave the impression that he was desperate on one hand and looking for something that will take him out of his mundane, daily, life on the other.

During WWI, when the front got closer to Biala, there was serious talk about evacuation to Russia, to avoid the war. David was among those who left for Russia.

After the war was over, and the revolution in Russia calmed down, there was still no sign of David in Biala. During the 1930s, Elijahu Reiseles (Klatz) suddenly received a letter from him. He wrote that he lived in Latvia, had married, taught in a high school, and asked about some of his friends.

There was no news from him after this letter. We have no knowledge of what happened to him during WWII.


1. Elie Bobkes (Elijahu Hoffman)

by P. Gold

Elie Hoffman was a carpenter, and one of the founders of the Bund in Biala. He was tall, his head leaning forward a bit, buried between his shoulders, his blond hair hidden, always holding a pipe – with tobacco when he could afford it, or empty when he had no money.

He was arrested with other Bund members by the Czarist regime and sent to Arkhangelsk (Russia). He came back ill with tuberculosis. He stayed in Biala for a short time and went to America. He arrived in America during the economic crisis, and had a very difficult time, but never lost his smile. When he was asked how he is doing or what he was doing, he used to answer: “It is cold on Broom Street”. Immigrants from Biala to New York used this phrase for many years.

Elie came back to Biala and married the daughter of Avreimale the music player. Jews say that musicians have beautiful daughters; this was definitely true for Elie's wife. Together they worked, fell sick, but brought up a family.

The 22nd anniversary of the Bund was celebrated in Gedaljahu Braverman's home. Elie, the oldest and the first Bundist in town, has been asked to say a few words. Instead of a speech, he sang the Bund oath.

The second time I met him in his own home. I then understood why he was usually absent from the Bund meetings. It was Passover eve of 1920, the Workers' Help Committee decided to give him a donation for the holiday, and it sent me with the money. The mother of his children lay in bed, smiling, but terminally ill and in great pain. Elie himself had to work, to take care of the children and his bed–ridden wife. Seeing that, I understood why he could not be active. How he kept his smile is still beyond me.

In 1921 the Bund split. In a meeting in Abraham Adler's house to discuss the issue, Elie took the stage and shouted: –– Friends! This is an attack on our own mother!

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Those who created the split were always against the Bund, and even the other part will not let us be for long. We have always been an independent party, and we will continue to exist as such, we swear to remain completely faithful to the Bund.

From time to time, my friends in Biala wrote that Elie had another hemorrhage. In one letter they told me that after one such episode, when he recovered somewhat, he said to the friends around him: –– there are 40 Zlotys in the pillow case, belonging to the Cultural League; take it because my wife (the second one) might find it and spend it all.

In his letters, he never mentioned his condition. They were always full of his humor, although “it was cold on Broom Street”…


2. Tankhum Freind

by P. Gold

Tana, as people used to call him, was the son of Seilig, a supervisor in a Talmud Tora (religious school).

I first met him in the Heder of rabbi Motel Domatchewer, and later we studied together with the best teacher of the higher Talmud Tora, Drogetchin. After school, I became an artisan, and Tana went to Lithuania to study in a Yeshiva. A few years later he went to Lodz and became a clerk for a young family from the Hasidic intelligentsia. The wife suggested that he should teach her children, who went to the local High–School, the Bible and other Jewish topics, and, in return, she offered to teach him Russian and Polish.

In Lodz Tana met with workers, and with the popular Bund activist, Ephraim Lazar Zalmanovitch, who had a lot of influence on him.

After WWI, I met Tana in the administration building of the literature and theater society, and in a Bund committee.

He was considered part of the Bund's intelligentsia. He was not a speaker, but a conversation person. The organization gave him responsibility for the youth: it set up the “future” organization, to get the young together and to send them lecturers. He himself had a group that met every Saturday in Elie Bobkes home.

In the Krakow Bund meeting, Tana and Baruch Stechanovski (now the chairperson of the Bund in Belgium) represented Biala. They were both, then, from the more leftist group of the Bund. When the consumers' cooperative Einikeit (Unity, O.A.) was formed in Biala, Tana became a clerk there.

In July 1920, Tana was arrested with other Bund members from Biala. They were sent to several jails and camps and then they were sent to the well–known concentration camp Dombie.

After the Soviet–Polish war the JDC started to reconstruct Brisk. Cooperatives were developed, and Ort (Organization for Vocational Craftsmanship, O.A.) opened vocational training schools. As the Bund had a say in the cooperatives, Tana came to Brisk to work with the administration. Later he became a teacher in a Cyszo school (the central association of Jewish schools in the Republic of Poland, O.A.).

While he was a teacher in Pinsk, he became involved in the local municipality and worked as a clerk. I was told that the students loved him; they trusted him and saw him as an older brother and friend.

Occasionally I saw his name in the folk–newspaper of the Bund, but not as a speaker. Later Tana taught in Piotrkow and Chenstochow. During Hitler's time, he worked in a factory and, in the evenings, he ran a Jewish school in the ghetto. He was active in the Bund's underground, served as a courier. He escaped Aktzias, but not death. He disappeared just before the Germans' defeat.


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3. Hirsh Richter (Lazar the Carpenter)

He was born in Biala–Podlaska, but at a very young age he moved to Warsaw and grew up in a very poor Jewish neighborhood, in Stawki Street. He was still a boy when he heard about the Bund, but its stubborn campaign against Zionism kept him away. He came closer to the radical Zionist circle “Hatkhija” (The Revival, O.A.), when Izsak Tabenkin, Izsak Grinboim, and Josef Shprintzak were among its leaders. Later he belonged to the group of Poalei Zion (Zion's Workers, O.A.) that joined the Zionist proletariat, to which he stayed loyal for almost forty years, until his death. He won his social position thanks to his thoroughness, restraint, his spirit and self–sacrifice. He never went to school, but he had a deep internal intelligence and natural ability to solve the most difficult daily problems. When he entered Poalei Zion, they were busy mainly with discussing theoretical problems, and he was one of the people that preferred practical work to professional and theoretical arguments; under this slogan, he organized the “workers opposition” in the party. Being involved with the public, he knew what was going on in each workshop and factory, and had a great influence especially among his fellow woodworkers, although most of them belonged to the Bund. He was popular among the Jewish workers and the poor, both in Warsaw and in the provinces – they called him Lazar the Carpenter. His decisiveness often brought about a strong clash between him and the leaders of the party, when he blamed them for deviation from the party's main ideology. The Czar's police often arrested him because of his party activity; sometimes he was badly beaten during his arrest. In 1909 he was recruited to the Russian army for three years, but, when he was released, he immediately resumed his political activity.

In 1914 someone informed on him, and he was arrested and sent to a period of forced labor in the Urals. He stayed there with two central Bund members, W. Medem and W. Alter, who tried to talk him out of Zionism, but to no avail. He was freed after the revolution of 1917 and became one of the Communist leaders of the Poalei Zion party in Russia. In 1920, the Central Committee of the party decided to annex “Poalei Zion left”; he bitterly fought for each ideological principle. He promoted the daily support of the workers in Eretz Israel, and the idea of integrating into the world Zionist organization. In 1924, he fulfilled his long–lasting wish and moved to Eretz Israel. The Jewish workers remembered him well, especially in Tel–Aviv, where he stayed during 1924–1927. However, the party center in Warsaw called him back to Poland.

When the war began, he left Warsaw but returned immediately to continue his four–decade activity. Indeed, he was present in all areas of the underground activities. His nature did not allow him to be passive, and he demanded armed resistance. The Nazis sent him to Lublin concentration camp, where he suffered until he died at the age of 58.

(Melech Neishtadt: “The Destruction and the Uprising of Warsaw Jewry”.


[Page 333]

Rabbi David Pizich

by Elijahu Mazor Tel–Aviv
(Former President of Warsaw Community)

When I commemorate the sacred Jews, rabbis, Hasidism, believers, activists and good doers – with whom I was in Warsaw, a city with the biggest Jewish community in Europe – who were killed during the terrible holocaust, I turn to the mission with great respect, with deep sorrow and pain. There is no comfort.

This time I will commemorate a Jewish activist, a member of the community committee in Warsaw, a scholar, Hasid and a modest man, Rabbi David Pizich, from Mlawa and Biala–Podlaska. Rabbi David Pizich was elected to the community committee as a representative of Agudat Israel (Orthodox Party, O.A.), chosen by the Rabbi of the Sokolow Hassidim.

I was at the time the president of the community committee, and I was very familiar with his rich activity in the social committee and the rabbinical committee. Rabbi David, who was a wealthy merchant, always found the time for public affairs, with special attention to the poor and needy. He used to donate money and food for holidays, making sure not to offend or shame anybody.

During WWII, he kept up his good work, despite the constant danger of death. He sacrificed himself to help his miserable brothers. Once, the Gestapo ordered the community committee to come to an emergency meeting on Saturday. Four members were arrested, including Rabbi David Pizich. It took effort and tricks to release him. He stayed in the Warsaw Ghetto almost to the end, and was among the last to leave it. He died in Poniatow with the other pure, sacred, victims.

His sons, who live in Israel, brought his ashes from Poniatow and buried it in the old cemetery on Trumpeldor Street, Tel–Aviv. They erected a stone in his memory and in the memory of his family members killed during the holocaust.

(This article was published in Hebrew, as the author submitted it.)

 

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