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[Page 448]

Shmuel Grabman

by Shlomo Korcowicz

Translated by Pamela Russ

With youth, with passion, and with two fiery eyes, he, the dentist of the town, would spring through the streets. If you asked him his age, he would look with those piercing eyes, stand on his toes, [and say]: “Why are you counting my years? I don't remember them”…. And he really did not remember them because he was always filled with a sprightly youth and always kept himself among the youth. He, this doctor, did not socialize with the pharmacist and other respected people in town; he distanced himself from all these snobs. And because of that, he was one with and close to the general folks. He shared his knowledge and experiences with them.

His home was open to everyone. All kinds of issues were discussed there. A school of knowledge in Jewish and all people's problems was there – in his home.

As a connoisseur and lover of Yiddish literature he took special pleasure in organizing literary Friday nights, and to those tired and hard–working from an entire week, he would read chapters from Shalom Aleichem. And how he read that! He prayed [recited with such fervor] the great humorous classic, and recited with all his limbs.

He would direct the drama circles in the city. This he also did in his home.

With the establishment of the education association after World War One, Shmuel Grabman would come there every evening to teach the workers and general population to read and write, and then guide them into Yiddish literature. His readings attracted all segments of the Jewish population. Wherever there was an opportunity – the roaring Shmuel Grabman participated. He was co–founder and chairman of the large Sholom Aleichem library, supporter and co–founder of the beautiful Yiddish school–organization, and for many years

 

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was also councilman in the city council, where his proud appearances were something renowned. With dignity, he would refute all anti–Semitic attacks; he would evoke respect and honor from all strata of the population.

On my walks with him, he would not tire from discussing all kinds of issues, and you could feel his sincerity in this: to enrich the other person with the treasures of his knowledge. He had an extraordinary love for everyone who heard him.

When I was preparing, in 1934, to go to Israel, and I came to say goodbye to him, there were tears in his eyes. He held me with both his hands and said: “Who knows, friend Sholom, what sort of fate awaits us here. You've accomplished your dream and are going towards your goal. I don't know if everything will be fulfilled, but I am still envious of you because you believe. Go, and have good fortune…”

In 1936, when I came to visit Nowy Dwor, I saw him, Shmuel Grabman, for the last time one evening in at the location of …

[Page 449]

Poalei Tzion. He was participating in a discussion about the civil war in Spain, with the same fire and youth, but his voice was trembling when he moved to the discussion of the situation in Poland at that time. After the speech, we walked through the city garden until late at night. The moon lit up the tips of the church, and he said: “These tips, which the moon is lighting up – should not one day harm our bodies. They are frightening me more than ever.” I heard him and it remained in my memory as prophetic speech.

During that walk in the city garden, he suddenly moved closely to me and bending over, he said: “Chaver [friend, comrade] Sholom, is it possible for a person like me, at my age, to work in my profession and earn at least some bread in the Land of Israel? It's important to think of this because here the noose is getting tighter around the neck…” I comforted him and replied that you have to believe that anything is possible. Then I felt the enormous struggle that went on in the soul of the eternally young Shmuel Grabman.

Three years later, he shared the fate with all the other Jews in Poland. But the proud, dignified Shmuel Grabman, in the most difficult days, encouraged dear and friendly ones, and continued to read Sholom Aleichem to them… And when the final hours came, and when they came to take him to Treblinka, at the very last minute he swallowed cyanide poison, and with the outcry: “The murderous Hitler hands will not take me!” the over sixty–year–old Shmuel Grabman, dear friend and huge philanthropist, ended his life.


Reb Yakov Meyer Salomon and His Children

by Y. Jerochemzon

Translated by Pamela Russ

One of the most intellectual homes, where Torah and wisdom reigned, was in Nowy Dwor, in the home of the family Salomon.

First, there was a true Jewish warm–heartedness; a readiness to help everyone with needs and necessities, with good ideas and good deeds. Every poor man would receive encouragement there, and would be welcomed with council and deed.

This true Jewish home was also the center of nationalistic work. All the Zionist activists were centered there in the years before World War One. Day and night, there were leaders, businessmen, and community activists there, to hear, to learn and decide; there, plans about all kinds of money collections were decided, and there you would be motivated and inspired into bold action in the area of national activity that was then, under Czarist rule, forbidden.

The family Salomon became even more active in social life, during the German occupation and after World War One, in Warsaw.

With the liberation of Poland, and with the awakening of social life, both among the older people and among the youth – their house became a center, serving our nationalist renaissance movement, ignoring all the difficult materialist worries that remained behind as an inheritance from the German occupation government.

At the head of this richly–spirited and devoted family, was the scholar and Talmid Chacham [Torah scholar], the sharp Gerer chassid Reb Yakov Meyer Salomon, who dedicated all his energies to the national–religious goals, and made great efforts, despite all concerns about earning a livelihood, to raise his children with an authentic Jewish education and modern European education. It was truly a great pleasure to see the fruits of his efforts – his gifted children, with their abilities, knowledge, and also understanding of the real issues of social life.

[Page 450]

Not only in knowledge, but also in deed. – In every area of social activity, they were in place first; not postponing for later, but immediately contributed their own work, wherever needed, ignoring the hardships.

These were his sons: Yosef, Fishel, Hershel, and Eliezer; and these were his charming daughters: Rivkele, Sorole, Perele – both in national–social activity, and also with humanitarian concern for the needy.

And most important – the wife of Reb Yakov Meyer, Lay'tche [from Laya]. She was a rare community activist. As chairperson of the Gemilas Chassadim fund [non–profit organization for the poor], she was always running around worrying how to increase the monies in the fund and how to come forward with constructive help, she was a real “Soro bas tovim” [Soro, a do–gooder], with herself–sacrifice, kindness, and readiness to help anyone in a critical state – she was an example from which to learn and to admire. Her work was evident with the refugees in the years of the First World War, in Warsaw.

Not far removed from their parents, are the Salomon children. They constantly strengthened their work in all areas of Jewish life in Warsaw, and primarily with helping those of the Jewish population who were suffering.

That's how Hershel Salomon was effective as secretary of the Jewish community in Warsaw for many years, with his devoted services for the poor Jewish population that he greeted with council and deed.

With the organizing and legalizing of various institutions by the new regime – the Salomon children threw themselves with enthusiasm into the service of Zionist institutions and into various culture unions. We find them in the youth association of “Merkaz” and “Hashachar,” in the literary–musical association of “Hazamir,” in “Maccabi,” in “Linat Hatzedek,” wherever there is a necessary and important institution, that's where they are, and they carry out important activities everywhere, and mark themselves as proper activists.

In “Merkaz,” Hershel was the librarian. He devotes himself to the job with exceptional energy. He collects books for the library in all languages, and newspapers for the reading room in the marvelous center of the former Russian officers' club on Krulewska.

In “Maccabi,” a respected place as conductor of the orchestra and mandolin section, is the dignified, energetic Eliezer. He also devoted much time to the creation of the sports association “Maccabi.”

And then the daughters. Rivkele, Perele – they devote their time to Zionist meetings, “Keren Kayemet” [“Jewish National Fund”], and other foundations. In the cold of winter and in the heat of the summer they go from house to house, to the flights high up, for the good of the national cause. Their efforts will remain in our memory for passing the “Zionist referendum” for the good of the Jewish national home, after the First World War. With self–sacrifice, at that time they ran from house to house to get signatures for this cause.

Without a doubt, one can say that the Salomon family was, both in Nowy Dwor and in Warsaw, one of the most devoted families for the social cause.


[Page 451]

Reb Tovya Fried

by Anshel Fried

Translated by Pamela Russ

My father, Tovya Fried, had many virtues and love for others – “for God and for man.”

He loved music. Shabbath for Havdalah [ceremony marking the end of Shabbath], he would sing Modzitzer [Modzitz, a Chassidic dynasty famous for its music] melodies. During the weekdays, he loved to sing “the Watercarrier,” and other Jewish folksongs. When we children would ask him to sing a Russian song, he would sing aloud. Still an old, Nikolayevsker [Russian] soldier…

He would always collect and note Yiddish and Hebrew songs. I remember when he participated in the performance of “Hazamir,” and also in the Yiddish drama circle. He was well versed in Yiddish literature, knew well the classic and popular writers. And along with all this, he went in the Jewish way, followed Jewish law, loved to lead the musaf prayer [Shabbat afternoon], if only the beadle of “Mizrachi” allowed him to do so as a galuach [Jew who has shorn off his beard].

The greatest passion was shown by my father when they sang “Hatikva” [Israel national anthem], and in his love and commitment to the blue and white Zionist flag that he kept all the years in our home – this flag of the Zionist organization in Nowy Dwor. He didn't trust anyone with the flag, it stood in the cabinet on a shelf and for us children, it was totally off limits … My father always took the flag out to air it out so that there shouldn't, Heaven forbid, be any moths. Before Passover, when my mother would empty the cabinet and air out all the clothes, he made sure she left the flag for him.

So solemnly and majestically, my father would take out the blue and white flag for the Zionist celebrations. In my father's eyes, the vision of an independent Land of Israel, of which he dreamed, lit up his eyes…

When the dark September arrived, and the hours before the Hitlerist thugs, each of us emptied our homes of “terrible” things that would be able to cause trouble. Now, my father also had to part with his blue and white flag. With a sigh, as if after receiving a sentence, my father took the flag out of the cabinet and hid it in the attic. He did this without words. His sigh said everything…

In 1945, after the war operations, when I received my first leave and went to look for my parents, brother, and sister in Nowy Dwor, –– I went into the attic of our house to look for my father's blue and white flag. But I did not find it there.

Anshel Fried

(Handwritten letter at bottom of page)

To my dearest friend Plieser!

How happy I am at this moment writing to you from the Land of Israel, not from exile [outside of Israel]. I heard that once again you are working in a school, but I wish better that you were working in a village on a piece of ––– [can't decipher missing word]. Thank you for asking about me. I am working and am earning a living. My children are not in need nowadays. From your best friend, who wishes you much good fortune and luck.

T. Fried
Shalom

 

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A letter from Tuvia to the teacher Plieser in Israel

 


[Page 452]

Reb Nute Noson Kaufman

by Avrohom Kaufman

Translated by Pamela Russ

 

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My father, Nute Noson Kaufman, was born in 1877, in the small town of Jelowa, near Sochatchow. His parents came from Wyszogrod and were relatives with Nochum Sokolow. By eight years of age, he had to end his Torah learning which he had studied with great diligence, and he had to go to work in order to help his parents with an income. But also in these conditions, he used every minute of his free time to learn about worldly subjects, and that's how he received his education, until, in the years before the First World War, he began to undertake “advocate's business” in the courts.

In his early youth, he was permeated with the ideals of Zionism, and related to that, several times he met with the leader, his relative, Nochum Sokolow. From then on, he dedicated his entire life to the Zionist movement.

With the establishment of a renewed Poland, the new governors removed his rights as an official court defense lawyer, and in the scene of rising anti–Semitism, his devotion to the Zionist idea only strengthened. He placed himself at the head of the Zionist organization in Jelowa, and infused the majority of the residents with Zionist thinking. He was also well known by the Jews of Jelowa for his aide work after World War One, when he organized an aide committee and was in contact with Joint [American Joint Distribution Committee is a Jewish relief organization based in New York] in order to help the Jews in Jelowa and the surrounding areas.

At the age of twenty–seven, he married Nechama Pjerzhonka, a Chassidic woman from Zakroczyn. During the years of the First World War, he had two sons – Dovid (Dudek), Avrohom (Mumek), and a daughter – Ruzhe. In 1924, they had another son – Moshe, and in that same year, the entire family moved to Nowy Dwor.

Soon after he came to Nowy Dwor, he got involved with the local Zionist organization, at the head of which stood Reb Shimshon Nute Srebernik (the “Rebbe”). Together with him, and with other Zionist activists, such as Fishel Friedman, Yechiel Yizraelowycz, Itche Griner, Moshe Bender, Chana Zeitag, Gershon Karsowycz, and others, the Zionist work received a boost, and extended to all areas.

In the year 1928, Nute Noson Kaufman established the “Tarbut” school [secular Hebrew language school] of Nowy Dwor. He was the chairman of the school committee until his final day. In a very short time, the school reached a high level, attended by many children and many adults who were opponents of Zionism. The school was also recognized by the government as equal to the state schools.

All his energy and time were given over to the existence and development of the Tarbut school, and also to other causes for social life. He was councilman for the city administration, and was vice–president of the homeowners [committee].

In the final years before World War Two, he was to attend the Zionist world Congress as a delegate, but because of his weakened health condition, it did not come to pass. He died after a lengthy sickness in the first days of World War Two at the age of sixty–one. In his will, he requested that his children fulfill his ideal and go live in the Land of Israel.


[Page 453]

Reb Berele Wengozh

by Sarah Rosenman–Treger

Translated by Pamela Russ

My father, of blessed memory, came to Nowy Dwor in 1910, from Czisew, a small town in the Bialystok region.

As an Alexander chassid [follower of the Alexander Rebbe and dynasty], his first meeting with the Alexanderer chassidim was in the stiebel [small, informal synagogue], where he instantly became beloved.

Already in his young years, Berele Wengozh was filled with Zionist ideals and became involved with Zionist activities. He was one of the co–founders of the Mizrachi part in Nowy Dwor, and at the same time he demonstrated his initiative for other causes, such as the establishment of various social institutions. He was elected as representative in the city council, and he also became a member in the community council, and for a certain time, he was at the head of the community as well.

When the days of heightened anti–Semitism, boycotts, attacks, and decrees of slaughter arrived, –– the indefatigable Wengozh established a Gemilas Chesed fund [non–profit aid for the poor] to help the Nowy Dwor Jews who suffered from all kinds of government trouble. Together with his friend, the “old Zilbertal,” the mechutan [in–laws related by their children's marriage to each other's family] of HaRav Neufeld, of blessed memory, he conducted his difficult, responsible work.

In the course of time, he accomplished his long–time dream. In 1934, he left for the Land of Israel. With boundless love, the Nowy Dwor residents parted from their beloved supporter. Also, here, in this country, my father did not terminate his work with the Jewish community from Nowy Dwor, and he maintained a close connection to the Nowy Dworer in Israel.

From 1939, when the Germans began their massacre in Poland, my father deeply felt the pain of the tragedy of the Polish Jews. His perceptive Jewish heart felt the terrible danger coming. His heart beat with the unrest and worry, and this affected his health. In 1939, he suffered a terrible heart attack and then was sick after that for seven years. That same month that we memorialized the murdered martyrs of our town, my father died. That was in the month of Teves, year 5706 [December 1945].

Aliza Azerov – Wengozh

 

The Yellow Izak and the “Zaposna” [“Provision”] Group

One of the simple Jews of the whole year, who live their lives quietly and their glory is in their deeds, was Yellow Isak, a roofer [covered roofs with shingles], who worked very hard to earn a little bit of a livelihood for his family.

As a young boy, he already performed in Yiddish theater along with Yellow Hershel, Yakov Yitzchok, and others, and for many years, he loved acting and verse.

When he returned from “serving by Fonye” [military service] he got involved in groups. He was one of the founders of the group “Zaposna” and of the group “Malbish Arumim” [clothing for the needy]. Yakov Aryeh the tailor and Efraim Slijomowyz belonged to the administration of the Zaposna. Everyone who ended their service to Fonye [military service], belonged to this group. They had their own funding that helped out their members in difficult times. They had their minyan [ten men for prayers] in Polysz in the shul.

One particular day, the former soldiers of the Zaposna were very useful to the Jewish community in Nowy Dwor. In 1919, when the hoodlums began taunting the Jews and cutting off their beards, Yellow Izak and his Zaposna organized a resistance. One Sunday, when the hooligans appeared in the marketplace and began their gangster attacks, they encountered Yellow Izak, who confronted them with an allied strength from the Zaposna and from the porters, and they chased the thugs out of the city. That's how Yellow Izak shone with power in his modest life.


[Page 454]

Lipe Mundlak

by M.A. Brajnhandler

Translated by Amy Samin

 

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Born in Nowy Dwor in Cheshvan 5656 [October – November 1895] – died in Tel Aviv on 27 Tammuz 5690 [23 July 1930.]

 

Lipe, son of Yitzhak Meir Mundlak, was born in the autumn of 1896 [sic] in Poland, Nowy Dwor – a small town not far from Warsaw. The son of a wealthy family of the town, Lipe studied in the cheder [religious elementary school] and received a general education at home. When he was about 18, he joined the Zionist Youth club. The years following the First World War found him in one of the associations of the General Zionist Youth in his town. In 1919 he joined Zairei Zion [Youth of Zion] and within the framework of that organization he made his way to the Socialist–Zionist party in Poland. First in the Zionist Youth, and then later with the Socialist–Zionists, he played a number of roles with organizational talent and extraordinary activism. He always inspired others to be organized, precise, and methodical.

He was one of those who dreamt of greater Socialist–Zionism abroad. In 1923, when there arose in the Socialist–Zionist party in Poland an enthusiasm for uniting with the Poalei–Zion [Workers of Zion] – “the right–wingers”, he was one of those who saw such a move as imperative.

Even after the unification of most of the Socialist–Zionist party with Workers of Zion, Mundlak was assigned the important position of secretary of the central office in the united Workers of Zion party. In this role he was also a symbol of vitality and practicality, and was one of the driving forces in the new party. He worked for the Hehalutz [the Pioneer] and Eretz Yisrael Haovedet [Working Israel] movements.

Upon his immigration to the Land of Israel in 1924, he began a new chapter of his life. He maintained his ties to the political party in Poland, and his letters from the Land of Israel, at that time, served as real nourishment for the party. With anxiety and devotion he kept track of the development of events in Workers of Zion, and later in Socialist Workers of Zion in Poland, and in many cases would mention to the members his disagreement with some of their opinions. The members who immigrated to the Land of Israel from Poland knew that the first thing they must do was to meet with Mundlak. He was able to understand the heart of the members who approached him, helping each and every one of them with faith and devotion, in their first days of settlement in the Land of Israel.

When he immigrated to the Land of Israel he found employment as a construction worker. As someone with experience in public works in Poland, he was invited to work in the Tiberius Workers' Council. In 1925, he went to work in Tel Aviv. Since those days, the work there has been incessantly stressful. Most of the day he spent in visits to worksites, with a watchful eye on all of the problems, and a listening ear to all complaints; in meetings with every member (male and female) who appealed to him for help; in negotiations with employers, and in training the workers' committees. The evening hours were spent in meetings, consultations, and arbitration; in leading the battle over the demands of Hebrew industry in the hands of the government through an investigation of its situation and prospects; in combating the concern over broadening the horizons of the professional organization by putting out special bulletins and publishing reviews in Davar [Item, a Hebrew–language daily newspaper published by the Labor Union]; in promoting international connections; in raising political awareness and maintaining recognition from the Histadrut [Labor Union] – all joined by normal worries of entanglement with everyday life and guarding against the takeover of the minutiae of office routine.

Five years passed like a single day. With no rest, working tirelessly, he carried the burden of the Labor Union, fighting the battles of the workers, fostering the labor organization with a brave and reliable hand. As member of the Tel Aviv–Jaffa Workers' Council, he was in charge of several organizations, a member of the board of the branch of Achdut HaAvodah [Labor Unity], the local council of the Worker's Party of Eretz Yisrael. The man was entirely consumed, with nothing left over, by the work of the professional union, by the fight for the rights of Hebrew workers, and by support of the Hebrew economy. He served as secretary to the Needle–worker's Association, the Leather–worker's Association, the Association of Restaurant and Hotel Employees, the Carton Worker's Association, and other organizations at various places of work. He put his greatest strength into

[Page 455]

building the Textile Worker's Association, which was founded and nurtured from its earliest days with only a few dozen members until through his efforts it reached hundreds. Despite the difficulties of the public burden, he was still able to understand the heart of the isolated members and respond to their needs. A clear and settled mind, the sense to distinguish when to give way and when to sanctify a fight, an easygoing and charming nature, a true lack of pretension worthy of one of the finest who dealt with workers, an alert and persevering nature – these were the qualities which accompanied him on his path filled with multiple responsibilities.

His 12 to 13 years working in the movement were both fruitful and unassuming. His political party in the Land of Israel and our movement in the Diaspora will preserve with fondness the memory of the faithful friend who has died too soon – in fact, in his prime.

M.A. Brajnhandler

 

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Death notice printed in Yiddish for Lipe Mundlak

 

We have parted from a dear and faithful friend, when we were all used to seeing him every day, filled with happiness and joy in his work. Sharp witted, vigilant, kind–hearted. The Labor Union sent him to one of the most difficult locations, with many difficulties and responsibilities. He stood on the front line of the labor organization in industries laden with turmoil and with uncertain prospects, in run–down places of work, with a wide variety of workers: adults and youth, men and women, natives and new immigrants. Imposed on him were the tasks of beginning to train them, to lay stone upon stone, to build and fortify, and to withstand crises, criticism, complaints, individual hardship, and violations of rights. In his daily efforts he always lived within the movement, and he knew how to insert substance into his role. He rejoiced in a life of duty, a life of public burden. The years of his youth were not wasted, rather he spent them working for the good of all. He was a loyal soldier on the front lines, a disciplined man, aware of every whisper in the movement, honest in his recognition and in his criticism. He always stood ready when faced with tasks that surpassed his abilities. We were not educated or trained for the work that we are called upon to do here. And now the hand of cruel fate has taken one of ours, one who had discovered the precious virtues of perseverance, organizational talent, and friendly interaction. An enormous hole has opened up on our front line in Tel Aviv. An entire community has been orphaned from the man who carried the burden.

  Moshe Sharett
Workers of the Land of Israel, Tel Aviv–Jaffa
from the memorial book of the party

 


[Page 456]

Nokhem Neufeld

by Shmuel Kokhalski

Translated by Miriam Leberstein

It is not an overstatement to say of Nokhem Neufeld that there wasn't a single communal institution in Nowy Dwor of which he was neither a co–founder nor an active member.

After the first World War, in 1916–1917, Nokhem Neufeld helped to found the renowned Sholem Aleichem Library, which grew into a highly esteemed institution. If I recall correctly, it was singled out for appreciation by the [journal] Literarishe Bleter [Literary Pages], which was then edited by Nakhman Mayzl.

When Jewish life normalized after the war, and political parties and movements began to emerge, Nokhem Neufeld organized a local Nowy Dwor branch of the Folks Party [a populist party.]

Nokhem Neufeld demonstrated his initiative in every area of Jewish life. When a cooperative movement was established by Jews in Poland, Neufeld became one of its most energetic activists in our town. At the same time he devoted himself to establishing the Hazmir orchestra, another important town organization, which put on performances and musical evenings under the direction of the well–known Nowy Dwor musician Shpilfidl.

Although Nokhem Neufeld never worked as a handworker or shopkeeper, he nevertheless served as a leader of the handworkers' and shopkeepers' unions. He also worked with the handworkers' bank, which in bad economic times distributed several hundred zlotys to workers.

He also did a lot for Jewish unity. The Jewish community was fragmented into various parties which were never able to agree on a course of action, until Nokhem Neufeld became their mediator. He got them to agree to a common slate of candidates in the elections for the city council and the kehila [organized Jewish community], and to work together.

In the years leading up to the [Second] World War, Nokhem Neufeld, although he lived in Nowy Dwor, was active in the Warsaw shopkeepers union, and became its leader. In the tragic time when the Germans began their murderous actions and a lot of people from Nowy Dwor moved to Warsaw, he immediately got involved in relief efforts there. He became an active worker for the Joint [Distribution Committee], which distributed a bit of hot soup and a piece of bread to the starving Jews.

When the deportations and killings of Warsaw Jews began, Neufeld bound up his fate with them. Describing the scene at the umschlagplatz [assembly place for deportations], Hillel Zeidman writes, “I froze when I saw Nokhem Neufeld, the renowned Nowy Dwor communal activist, walking at the front of the group of Jews.” Fate had decreed that Neufeld would always and everywhere stand at the forefront of all the Jews, for all the Jews.


[Page 457]

Menashe Kokhalski

by Kalman Pitulski and Khaye Litman

Translated by Miriam Leberstein

[First section, by Kalman Pitulski]

 

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Menashe Kokhalski was among the activists who influenced Nowy Dwor's political and social life.

His ebullient nature could not long tolerate the restrictions of the kheder [religious school for young children] and of his religious home, and he sought a milieu in which he could express himself and find an outlet for his energy. He found this in Socialism and Zionism.

Like the majority of the young people in town, he achieved a high level of social and political knowledge though reading, self–education, and observation, to the point that he became the leader of the party and the youth organization of Poalei Zion [Workers of Zion]. These positions provided an outlet for his considerable creativity and initiative.

With his great inventiveness and initiative, he could find a suitable solution to every problem. His practical sense served him well in difficult political and social campaigns. He was the moving spirit, in word and deed, in every branch of the organization and was always sensible and practical in every new endeavor. He devoted himself body and soul to every party campaign. He knew all the members, of all levels of importance, felt their joy and pain and was always available to offer help. The party members were his life and because of them he neglected his work and personal life.

Every success strengthened his efforts, but failure never weakened him. This sensitive and vigilant pillar of the party was a source of courage at times of despair, encouraging people to begin anew, which earned him their esteem and affection.

Despite his devotion to the party, he had great tolerance and understanding for other ideological positions. At every gathering of communal activists in town, this warm and well–meaning man was able to communicate in a common language with others. He saw that cooperation among the parties was the best way to achieve success.

When the party participated for the first time in elections to the city council, Menashe Kokhalski was chosen to be its candidate, and he lost by only a few votes. He had won the votes of many who supported him even though they were not of our party.

He continued his tireless work under the difficult conditions in the ghetto, and fell victim to the German barbarians.

 

[Part 2, by Khaye Litman]

The name Menashe Kokhalski is bound up with the youth movement Frayhayt [Freedom]. He gave himself to the movement with body and soul. He worked in a bakery at night and devoted his days to communal activism. Along with his party work, he also helped to develop the Lipa Mundlak Library, an institution of great significance in the realm of culture and learning. He also participated in the distribution of [the publication] The New Word. His face lit up each time he managed to sign up a new subscriber.

He worked tirelessly for the Frayhayt movement on recruitment campaigns and organizing groups and cadres. He was the moving force in all the work.

When the Second World War began, bringing hunger, suffering and dislocation, Menashe and his family went to Warsaw and in the confusion tried to search out the remnants of Poalei Zion and Frayhayt. He was desolated and depressed to see the suffering of those close to him. He helped the Konianski, Zaydenberg and Kartsovitsh families to obtain the school at 63 Mila Street, which became a residence for many Nowy Dwor families. There he struggled to organize groups of young people for our movement.

He also participated in running a soup kitchen at 63 Mila Street and tried to help everyone. He would console others though he himself was depressed.

He tried to maintain relationships with the comrades from the central party organization. He helped to create workplaces. He helped Andzhe Pitulska to get work in the central kitchen of our movement at 12 Genshe Street, enabling her to support her family. (She was killed in Legionov during Simchas Torah 1942, along with her little boy Ati and her sister in law Freydele.)

At the end of 1941, when Korn, (Langetke's son–in– law ) became chief of a mill on Nowalipia Street, which was considered one of the Schultz shops [German –owned factories in the ghetto] Menashe got work there for my brother Shayele, Avrom Litman and others. Menashe did not rest. Every week he obtained a bag of kasha from Korn and distributed it among the Nowy Dworers.

Then came the final horrific days. Menashe was in contact with the party comrades. The underground opened a bakery on Volinska Street, at the time of the first deportation. The bakery had the task of bringing bread to the umschlagplatz, the last bread for those doomed to die. Menashe went there with the bread and never returned. He was taken off with the others on the final journey, our devoted comrade who always took care of others, providing consolation and encouragement.

May his memory be blessed.

 

[Page 459]

Hersh Ber Pinker,
My tragically murdered brother

by Simkhe Pinker

Translated by Miriam Leberstein

 

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In 1937 my brother, having been drafted, reported for military service. On the day he reported for duty, the Christian draftees ran wild in the town, creating an oppressive mood. The young Jewish men felt helpless. But Hersh Ber singlehandedly took on the rampaging hooligans, setting an example for the Jewish youth in how to behave proudly and protect their honor.

The attacks and looting ceased, but that did not put an end to the wave of anti–Semitic pogroms in Pshitik. Again, Hersh Ber, in military uniform, was put to the test. And there, while in military service, he was brutally murdered.

His regiment was quartered in Pozen, a city renowned as the center of anti–Semitism. There Hersh Ber distinguished himself as a sportsman and also brought distinction to his squad. But it was because of the envy evoked by his skill and success, because of the dignity with which he conducted himself as a Jew and a citizen, that he was murdered.

He gave his life for Jewish honor.

 

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[Page 460]

Figures of the Nowy Dwor Bund[1]

by Chaim Babitz, Tel Aviv

Translated by Miriam Leberstein

 

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Leon Grabman

Born in Plotsk in 1897, he came to Nowy Dwor with his parents as a child. In Warsaw he found his place in the student circles of the Bundist youth organization, which was then called “Social Democratic Tsukumft [Future].” He got to know the Tsukumft leader Natan Safron and Leon Oler, who became a close friend. Leon Grabman threw himself into the renewed Bundist movement with youthful revolutionary zeal.

After finishing high school, he entered Warsaw University as a student in the medical faculty and was active in the student movement there. With the renewal of the Jewish workers' movement, he helped to establish the Bundist movement in Nowy Dwor, dedicating himself to this work with extraordinary devotion. At the time, he was one of the first students in the movement with such close ties to the workers' movement.

As a representative of the Bund, he also helped to organize the Polish workers and was among the founders of the workers' council in Nowy Dwor. He was one of the speakers at the meeting of the Jewish and Polish workers which took place in 1918 (in Rabinovitsh's salon). That meeting was remembered for its storminess and for the resistance its participants mounted to assaults by Polish legionnaires.

With his activity in the community, Leon Grabman began to pose a danger to the reactionary elements in town and the representatives of the young Polish regime viewed him with suspicion. Before long he was arrested and sent to the Dembie camp outside

 

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Inscription on gravestone:
“Our son Leybush Bar Shmuel Grabman,
died age 26.”

 

[Page 461]

Krakow. There he fell ill and returned home physically devastated, but he continued with his political work until his illness defeated him.

As fate would have it, he died on the same tragic day, January 19, 1923, as Vladimir Medem, the central figure of the Bund. And the Bund in Nowy Dwor, doubly bereaved, sent off into eternity one of its best, Leon Grabman.

 :

Khaim Yitshak Rudowski

Born in Kotsk to impoverished Hasidic parents, he was a good student in kheder [religious school for young children], and his parents wanted him to become a religious scholar. But poverty and lack of prospects forced him to leave Kotsk for Warsaw, where he began working in a hat factory. After a while, he lost that job, and after the end of World War I, he found work with the public works project to rebuild the Modlin bridge and settled in Nowy Dwor.

Rudowski was a splendid example of a communal activist who developed along with his movement. He led the Bund in Nowy Dwor to a wider scope of political activity, and the movement elevated him to become one of the most widely recognized Jewish leaders in the town.

Despite his limited educational background, he was recognized for his work for the municipality, and was elected Vice–mayor as a Jewish–Socialist Bundist. In that position he continued his devoted work on behalf of the entire Jewish population in Nowy Dwor.

 :

Mendl Roznfeld – “Trotsky”

Very few people knew that his last name was Roznfeld; the town knew him as Trotsky, Mendl Trotsky. The unknown person who gave him this nickname intended to invoke the name and character of Leon Trotsky, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, and, as paradoxical as it may seem, Mendl, with his limited intelligence, possessed the revolutionary temperament that justified the nickname.

Mendl Roznfeld –restless, dissatisfied, embittered – was a Trotsky his whole life. It was his habit never to speak, but to shout. He didn't spare his own comrades or friends and was certainly even harsher toward his political opponents, whom he battled with great belligerence.

The philosophical law that being determines consciousness was absolutely confirmed by Mendl's life and character, because his entire existence was really a long non–existence. From childhood on (if he even had a childhood) until the last days and his tragic death, it was a story of hopeless hunger. Who knows if a single ray of hope ever brought forth a smile on his face or a feeling of joy for himself and those around him. For the perpetually depressed Mendl, spring was like autumn.

Only one thing fulfilled him – the Bund, to which he was devoted body and soul. He was ready to serve the party every day and gave his every hour to the struggle.

[Page 462]

He was everywhere – in the union, the besmedresh [house of study and worship], at the city hall, at Hildenbrand's pharmacy, always surrounded by people. Yelling and discussing, explaining and persuading, at every meeting, every reading, every demonstration, even in every fight and fistfight. Truth be told, Mendl wasn't a very good fighter and he was often hit and often injured.

By trade Mendl was actually a baker, but instead of fermenting yeast, he fermented the revolution. It may be that he was a good baker, but no one would hire him, because he was known for his combativeness.

For some time Mendl was occupied with distributing the Folks Tseytung [People's Newspaper]. (One hundred and fifty copies were distributed daily, more than all three of the bourgeois Yiddish newspapers –Haynt [Today], Moment, Express combined.) But Mendl had difficulty with this work, too; he could not read or write and Rudovski had to write out for him a list of all the subscribers with printed letters, so it was clear for him. But that didn't work and he soon took on a new job; he became a night watchman, then a water carrier, where he also had bad luck; he never delivered a full bucket; he always struggled with hunger.

Mendl was a walking symbol of social injustice. He shared the suffering of many Jewish workers in town, who were robbed of any possibilities for human existence. And in his anger, too, Mendl expressed the willingness to fight possessed by all the afflicted nameless masses.

 :

Hertsl Dubnikow

 

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Unfortunately we have very little specific biographical information about Hertsl Dubnikow. We know only that he came from Lithuania and from modern–thinking parents who gave him a modern religious education. His further development he accomplished on his own through his own efforts.

For a while, he taught evening classes for working class youth in Nowy Dwor. Later he devoted himself to Socialist education of Bundist youth. All the survivors who remember him from that time speak of Hertsl Dubnikow with love and respect, because he was one of the first to bring enlightenment and knowledge to a backward area. His name is associated with the entire educational progress of our young people. He gave his time and energy for that, believing in the fruit of his labors, that a new generation would arise, armed with knowledge and true to its Jewish identity.

[Page 463]

Didek Zilbertal

Didek came from a petit bourgeois family that was inspired with a progressive, modern spirit. The Zilbertal family was among the Jewish aristocracy in Nowy Dwor. But this didn't prevent Didek from devoting himself body and soul to the workers and young people of the neglected masses. He served them with his perceptive thinking and profound intelligence. For years his intellectual ability enriched the programs and meetings of the youth organization Tsukumft.

He was also active in the municipal government. For many years he was a member of the city council, and when the city was ruled by a Socialist majority he was also an alderman, dealing with the finance department.

His life was marked by many personal and family difficulties which affected his participation in the movement. To his credit, Didek managed to bring into his wealthy, aristocratic home the simplicity and beauty of the progressive populist spirit.

 :

Nisn and Leye Shteynberg

In a single room in Hershl Transport's house on Warsaw Street lived Nisn and Leye Shteynberg and their small children. Nisn sat on his shoemaker's stool before the only window, which faced the street, and banged away with his hammer. Opposite the door stood beds on which the whole family slept and in a corner was the kitchen where Leye fed and raised her children.

In summer, when the window stood open, friends would come there to chat with the shoemaker's family. And they had lots to talk about. Maxim Gorky's saying – “Everything I have in me I owe to my best friend, the book” – was true in the case of Nisn Shteynberg. There were no book cupboards or fine editions in the Shteynberg home, and yet books were part of their lives. With all his hard work and travails, by staying up at night Nisn was able to acquire culture and learning, and was recognized by the town as an example of a new type of worker and common man.

In 1927, Nisn Shteynberg was elected as one of the five Bundist members of the city council. Later his wife also became a council member. Both were admired and trusted by the Jewish folk masses until the day they were tragically murdered.

 :

Tankhem Kronenberg

Tankhem was a yeshiva student, a religious scholar, but from his early youth he felt the spirit of the times and took up the ideas of social justice and national equality. He found in the Bund's world view the answer to his spiritual seeking and striving for human exaltation.

Tankhem was an idealist and simple and honest in his relationships with people. Despite difficulties with work and earning a living, Tankhem never lost his thirst for education and knowledge, and thanks to his constant striving for self education, he became a model communal activist and worker in the town.

[Page 464]

Tankhem worked at all kinds of manual labor, unloading coal from railway cars, and even transporting night soil from town to the peasants' fields. Even in the long hot summer days filled with heavy labor, he never neglected his important communal duties.

I remember a summer night when the Bund faction in the city council was preparing for a serious battle over the municipal budget. The council meeting was supposed to have started, but Tankhem hadn't arrived yet; he was still at work. We all went looking for him and finally caught sight of him as night was falling, tired from working, with a walking stick in his hand and his shoes flung over his shoulder. He was black, entirely covered with thick coal dust.

When we met up with him, we were reluctant to tell him what we needed, but Tankhem immediately understood that an important matter needed his attention, and he got ready for the meeting. His devoted wife Tsvie served him a bite of food and within a few minutes, he had taken his place among the Bundist members in the city council.

 :

Matis Papier

His nickname in town was “Kolbas” [lit., a non–kosher kind of sausage; fig. a Jew who doesn't keep kosher] – Matis Kolbas. That's what all the religious people in town called him, taking derisive revenge for his non–kosher ways, his rejection of religion. For a long time he was a member of the kehile [organized Jewish community] as a representative of the common people. He was among the few wagon and carriage drivers who were literate. While driving, he would check up on the news in the newspaper and would even browse through a book when he had time. [He was a] fine man of the people, who had a place in the gallery of types of Jewish Nowy Dwor.

 :

Borekh Kelervays

Borekh worked as a sewing machine operator. During World War I he was sent off to Germany. In the 1920's he returned to Nowy Dwor with his family. A bit “Germanified,” he appeared distant and unfriendly. But he gradually became more like us, became active in the Bund and was later elected as a Bundist member of the kehile.

 :

Shamay Kalikshteyn

Shamay came to Nowy Dwor during the German occupation in World War I, and worked there on public works projects. He was an example of a Jewish worker who suffered greatly and ws fully socially conscious. He was among those who helped to create and renew the Bund organization at the end of World War I. He carried out his communal work in a self–effacing way, like a lamed vovnik [one of the 36 concealed “just men”, upon whom, according to Jewish legend, the existence of the world depends.] His loyalty and dedication won him recognition by the party circles in Warsaw.

[Page 465]

We should also mention our comrades: Khaim Finklshteyn and his wife, Rokhl Rodziner, who later moved to Warsaw; Motl Roznshteyn; Yankev Zamyatin and Esther Lokatsh. We wish them long life, along with Khaim Roznshteyn, Sinek Hirshbeyn and others. Each, in his own way, at different times, contributed something to the common struggles and achievements of the Bund.

It is also a duty and honor to mention the many–branched families, like dynasties, who were part of the movement: the Magids, the Papiers, the Mendlsons, the Tops, the Kartsovitshes, the Lubelskis, the Hershfangs, the Bornshteyns, the Kirshteyns and last of all, the Marakos. All of these, by participating as a family in the Bundist movement, demonstrated how deeply the Bund was enmeshed in the life of the common people.

It was always the goal and dream of the Socialist movement to find a way to reach the common people. The Bundist movement in Nowy Dwor achieved this. All of these noble figures followed this road, with personal sacrifice and love. May their names be sanctified for generations.


Footnote

  1. Bund is a shortened form for Algemeyner Yidisher Arbeter Bund in Lite, Poylin un Rusland (Central Labor Federaton of Lithuania, Poland and Russia). return


Our Devoted Khaim Rudowski

by Emanuel Novogrudski

Translated by Miriam Leberstein

On February 22, 1945, our devoted party comrade Khaim Rudowski died in a New York hospital after a difficult operation.

Khaim Rudowski came to New York at the beginning of 1941, along with a group of comrades from the Bund who had escaped the Nazi occupation of Poland.

From America, his eyes turned longingly to Poland, where the Bund valiantly continued its tradition of merciless struggle against the bloody enemy; to Poland, where he had spent his entire conscious life fighting in the ranks of the Jewish workers movement and where he was loved and respected by the masses of Jewish workers who had seen him in action.

He belonged to the generation of Jewish workers who grew up in the Bund and who received their education and social experience in the movement.

Khaim Rudowski was born in Kotsk in 1894 to poor parents and was raised in a fanatic Hasidic family. He broke away from the religious environment quite young and went to Warsaw, where he became a presser in a hat factory. He retained the ardor and passion of his Hasidic upbringing, and brought these qualities into his new realm of work and the Jewish workers movement.

At the end of World War I, when Poland became an independent state, Khaim Rudowski was in Nowy Dwor, in the leadership of the Bund movement. He became the most renowned leader of the working class in Nowy Dwor. He was the secretary of the tailors' union, chairman of the Nowy Dwor Bund, leader of the Bundist faction in the Nowy Dwor city council, a Bundist alderman, and the elected vice-mayor of Nowy Dwor.

[Page 466]

The Jewish population in Nowy Dwor knew that Rudowski was their defender and community spokesperson. He devoted all his skills and time to defending the interests of the Jewish masses and gradually the masses adopted his language, the language of the Bund. The Bund owed a lot to his energy and devotion.

When Rudowski moved to the forefront of the wider mass movement in Nowy Dwor he found in himself the necessary powers to achieve success for the demands he made to the Jewish institutions and government organizations in the town.

His courage, his bold defense of the Jewish population against the anti-Semitic rampages on one hand, and the wealthy Jewish nationalists on the other, were expressed in his reports from Nowy Dwor published in the Warsaw “Folks Tseytung” [People's Newspaper], read by thousands of socially conscious Jewish workers in dozens of towns in Poland. These reports were signed with the pseudonym “Yerukhem.”

Rudowski developed into the model for a Bundist activist and leader. Many of our members learned from him how to carry out the difficult task of representing the needs of the Jewish masses in public institutions in a Bundist manner. Rudowski's great abilities were demonstrated during the bitter fight waged by the Polish Communists against the Bund. He understood how to defend the position of the organized Jewish working class with dignity and courage, thereby avoiding an internal war.

Despite the fact that Rudowski devoted his entire self to the town of Nowy Dwor, he still found time to be active in the leading institutions of our movement. It required a rare level of energy not to be overwhelmed by this work. Beginning with the national conference in Krakow in 1920, he was a delegate to all the Bund conferences. He participated in the ideological struggles between the “eynser,” [members of the first group] and the “tsveyer,” [members of the second group, the left opposition], that formed the Bundist ideology.

Rudowski was not only a party leader, he was also a rare example of a champion of Yiddish culture. He did not rest until he succeeded in establishing a Yiddish school organization and Yiddish cultural organizations in Nowy Dwor. In the last years, he was active In the Central Yiddish School Organization, on whose behalf he visited dozens of towns in several regions of Poland. Everywhere he went, his visit was successful; everywhere he managed to strengthen the will and stamina of the comrades in their work in the schools and cultural organizations.

Rudowski was very interested in the Jewish labor union movement, which he loyally served. He began as an ordinary member of a Jewish trade union, and was ultimately elected to the national union organization in Poland.

When he was forced to emigrate, first to Lithuania, then to America, Rudowski felt lost, like a flower uprooted from the soil. He could not live without the stormy, colorful struggle of the Jewish masses in Poland.

Honor to him memory as a loyal devoted Bundist

(from Undzer Tsayt,[Our Times], New York, April, 1945.)

 

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