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Our Shtetl Krinek (cont.)

Translated by Judie Goldstein

The “Skif”: Hershel Zakheim

With Hitler coming to power in 1933, throughout all of Poland there was a heavy Fascist cloud. The Jewish population was very disturbed and every day brought new extremes. The circumstances made it necessary to stand up and oppose the hooligans. All the youth were mobilized in due course and the time came when even the young children were organized. Krynki also created a “Skif” [Socialist Children's Union]. The first members were older students in the secular Jewish school and “Bundist” children. The first speakers in the circles of “Skif” were Tanya Gotlieb, Sorala Gabeh and the teacher Rosenberg. They lectured on the history of the “Bund”, the 1905 Revolution and the romantic heroic story of Hirsch Lekert, the favorite theme in all the circles. The “Skif” idea also intruded among the students in the “Public Heder” and the Yeshiva.

The members of the Skif committee were quickly taught so they could lead the circles on their own and take on the job of enlightening poor children. The young activists first searched in the library for the necessary material and then the themes were properly presented at the circles. Very often “living” newspapers were arranged, written and read by the participants, as well as “academicians” and lecturers. “Discussion evenings” were held with opponents from the youth organizations “Freiheit” [Poalei Youth Organization] and when “Merikz” [center] youth held discussion evenings, our speakers took part.

More youth and children joined the ranks of “Skif” after the pogrom in Pshitik, especially after the protest strike against the Polish anti-Semitic pro-fascist government, a strike that was proclaimed throughout Poland on Tuesday the 17th of May 1936 by the central committee of the Bund and the trade unions. I remember that Monday the 16th, in the evening, the order arrived from the central committee in Warsaw to call the general strike and to mobilize everyone, Jews as well as sympathizing Christians, in a mass demonstration. An urgent meeting was called by the Krynki “Bund” committee at Abraham Shmuel Zitz's room, together with the delegates from “Tzukunft” and “Skif” and very quickly, in the space of several hours, everything was organized.

[p. 187]

The next day, early in the morning the Skifists were the first ones at the market place stores and booths to tell everyone they must stay closed. There was a complete strike and it encouraged the Jews to fight for their rights as citizens and to stand up against the anti-Semitic hooligans.

The Krynki Skifists all took part in the Bundist “press days” by distributing the party's central organ, the “New People's Newspaper”. The Skifist strikers even received a mention in Dubnov-Erlichs book “Der Garber un Bershter Bund” [The Tanner and Brush Bund”].

kry187a.jpg - Bund 'Press Committee'
Bund “Press Committee”


kry187b.jpg - An outing of the Krynki Skif
An outing of the Krynki Skif

The Sholker forest during the summer became the property of the “Skif.” With singing in nature's lap, we would spend from morning until night there – eating, singing and laughing among comrades. Later we would stand in rows, well disciplined, and after shouting “Khavershaft!” [comradeship!] - we would march back home.

The bloody Nazis did away with them and their dreams along with all our brothers.

From The Krinki “Hakhalutz”: Shmuel Herbarem-Krupnik

In 1924 the Krinki “Hakhalutz” [Zionist pioneer movement, part of Poalei Zion, supporters of socialist education] already numbered over one hundred comrades. Some of them went to “Hakhshore” [preparatory training for prospective agricultural emigrants to Israel] and some learned an appropriate trade for Israel. At that time this was not an easy thing: parents were strict – on no account would they consent to this. They would not allow their sons and daughters to make aliyah [immigrate to Israel] to Israel to be day laborers or artisans. But the comrades overcame all the obstacles, not paying any attention to their parents. Some received slaps from their fathers and were literally from the house for wanting to leave their parents and for going to Hakhshore without their consent.

[p. 188]

At that time “we were scratching our heads”, trying to find other ways to increase the revenue of the “Hakhalutz fund” in Poland, besides through our own helpers and carrying out endless “Bliml-Teg” [fund-raising days], which we ordered in the shtetl, for the good of the fund. Therefore we began sawing wood for local households and then also took it on as an “enterprise” for the town electric works. For us this was quite a transformation – to do such physical work that previously only village gentiles would do for Jewish orders. You should have seen the welcome our parents gave us when we returned home from doing such work!

kry188.jpg - Hakhalutz 25 April 1925
Hakhalutz 25 April 1925

Just before Passover we sent our comrades to work in the “warehouses” (matzah “contracts”) and dedicated the entire income to the “Hakhalutz fund”. And the same in 1925 when we undertook to arrange a new enterprise; to kosher utensils for Passover. We even received a special “permit” from the town rabbi, Rabbi Khezekiah Mishkovski who even honored us with a blessing for prosperity.

That year “Hakhalutz” opened a carpentry shop, overcoming the disturbances and hindrances on the part of the parents and local carpenters. The carpentry shop developed very quickly and well. We established a large clientele, among them Rabbi Mishkovski who was interested in our achievement and believed in our work and our courage.

A Summary

That was how the Krinki “Hakhalutz” literally carried out its activities in the coming years, especially in the 1930's. One after the other comrades went to the Hakhshore kibbutzim [large collective farms] to be trained in agriculture and immigrated to Israel – to build and restore it – by themselves – and to defend and to bring into existence the land of Israel as an independent country for generations. And today the number of Krinki families in our country is two hundred and fifty, so may they increase!

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