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[Page 106]

Organizations and Movements

Agudat Israel

The World Organization, Agudat Israel, was founded in 1912 in Katowice by the leading orthodox rabbis, tsadiks, and Chassidic leaders. A branch was established in Piotrkow by Gur Chassids and a few Mitnagdim. In 1918, they founded a school for boys named Yesoday Tora, which combined secular and religious studies under the direction of R. Henoch Folman, and later under R. Dov Ber Koplowicz. Numerous future rabbis, scholars, authors, teachers, and civic leaders graduated from this school. A few years later, a counterpart for girls, the Bais Yakov, was founded as well as its daughter organization, Batia. A Yeshiva, the “Bney Tova,” was established in 1922 under the leadership of Rabbi Zvi Rynkewicz.

In 1925, Agudat Israel founded a weekly publication, Die Yiddishe Stimme, under R. Isaac Ber Akerman. It fervently supported the Aliah to Eretz Israel. In 1939, another publication, sponsored by R. Moshe Chaim Lau, appeared. It was a four-page popular weekly, Das Yiddishe Licht, written in Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish.

Agudat Israel also founded the commercial Bank Spoldzielczy and supported the professional school of art, as well as the charitable Linas Hatzedek. Their representatives were members of the community, the municipality, and the Councils.

In 1913, a youth organization, the Tsirey Agudat Israel, was founded. It generated cultural activities for the young.

Josef Konstantynowski founded the Poaley Agudat lsrael for the working members of the organization. A library was also established and, in 1923, a Hachshara point for Halutzim was prepared. Several dozen of these Halutzim made Aliah to Eretz Israel.


At first, the activity of the Zionists in Piotrkow was minimal, since Zionism was forbidden under Russian rule and looked upon unfavorably during the occupation by the Germans during World War 1.

A Zionist religious group led by R. Jacob Krakowski founded a branch of Hamizrahi. They set up a school with sixteen pupils in 1917, teaching in conjunction with religious subjects, Hebrew Agada, Jewish history, geography, and general subjects, which comprised the equivalent of four years of tuition in high school. This school was strongly opposed by Agudat Israel. The conflict created a rift between parents and children.

In 1917, a youth group, the Irgun Tseirey Hamizrahi, was formed; another group of young people opened a farm for Hachshara. They founded the Hehalutz Hamizrahi.
Their first olim reached Eretz Israel in 1931.

Activist of Poalei Zion C.S. in 1929
Activist of Poalei Zion C.S. in 1929

Hanoar Hazioni in 1931
Hanoar Hazioni in 1931

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