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Chapter 3 {Cont.}

Page 69

The Visit of Samuel Tchernovitch

In the year 1925 came for a visit to Sopotkin Samuel Tchernovitch of blessed memory. A welcome reception was organized. The main synagogue was filled to capacity. After the reception, the people escorted the honorable guest to the Mentchinski's house. There he taught the crowd Israel's songs and dances. His visit left a big impression on everyone and increased the longing for the land of Israel.

This is the way this town lived in the period between the two World Wars. Tchernovitch's visit strengthened the desire to go to the land of Israel.

sop069.jpg [20 KB]
Jews from Sopotkin paying their respect to
S. Tchernovitch on his departure

Page 70

The Movement of the “Hechaluts” (Pioneers)

With the establishment of the "Chalutsim" [Pioneer] movement in Poland, a branch of the "Chaluts" movement came to being in Sopotkin. The "Hechaluts" brought about the awakening among the youth. The branch was the center of the youth's life. There they spent their cultural life: news about the land of Israel, courses in Hebrew, Hebrew songs and dances, and the main thing, pioneer training ("Hachshara").

The Training Experience

Not only mountains and forests adorned Sopotkin, but also training groups from different Zionist movements brought fame to this wonderful town. The agricultural farms, owned by the Jews, became agricultural training cells where young people prepared themselves for the land of Israel. When Poland became an independent country, the owners of the farms suffered a lot. The Polish government restricted the large possession of land for the Jewish owners. The anti-Semitic administration put heavy taxes on the Jewish population and made their life very hard. The Jewish land owners were very kind to the young people who came from different cities (Bialystok, Grodno, etc.) for training. Sopotkin became the center of training experience for young people from different Zionist movements.

And so, Mr. Grabuveytski's farm became the agricultural training center for the youth groups of "Shomer Hatsair" that came to Sopotkin from the large city of Bialystok.

One Shabbat all the members of the "Hachshara" (training center) came to the synagogue. One of the young men, who had a beautiful voice, was the cantor. It was a pleasure to listen to him. That Shabbat was one of the most pleasant and happy Shabbats that the inhabitants of Sopotkin had.

Page 71

sop071.jpg [24 KB]
“Hechaluts” (Pioneers)
Standing first row (right to left):
1. Avrohom Bibliovitz, 2. Luba Vishnevski, 3. Lipka Perestonski, 4. Nachum Meir Plarkovski,
5. Sionia Gezes, 6. Faytl Kagen, 7. ?, 8. Aba Shadzunski, 9. Ratskovski
Sitting second row (right to left):
1. Chaim Ozer Pores, 2. Ben-Zion Zavl Shadzunski, 3. Leyb Dunski (Der Eliment), 4. Yekusiel Gezes
Sitting third row (right to left):
1. Yehuda Kelynburt (Ilati), 2. Zelig Perestunski, 3. Abraham Lanski, 4. Velvl Mareyn

Page 72

sop072.jpg [23 KB]
“Hechaluts” and “Hechaluts Hatsair”[1]
Standing first row (right to left):
1. Zelig Perstonski (Ephrati), 2. Faytl Kagan, 3. Fruma Reyzner, 4. Aba Shadzunski,
5. Etel Samborski, 6. Chaykl Demishevitski, 7. Chone Glikson, 8. Yehuda Tsimelons,
9. Joseph Ivashkovski
Sitting second row (right to left):
1. Chana Pufetski, 2. Yisroel Furmanski, 3. Mordechay Yafe (delegate from the Land of Israel),
4. Yehuda Kleynburt, 5. Aryey Samborski, 6. Beril Flaskovski
Sitting third row (right to left):
1. Chonon Borovski, 2. Batya Etl Shadzunski, 3. Osnas Polak, 4. Samuel Leyb Kovnianski,
5. Velvl Mareyn, 6. Sheynke Shadzunski, 7. Meir Brandvayn, 8. Yitschah Kviatkovski

Page 73

In the village of Vasilevitch on the farm that belonged to the Berkman family an agricultural training ranch was founded. Members of the "Shomer Hatsair" (a Zionist youth movement) from the region of Grodno and Bialystok came there for training. They practiced agriculture and learned to be farmers in the land of Israel.

Ostashi, the farm that belonged to the Veler family served as a center for the youth of the Zionist movement "Hechaluts" (Pioneer).

In the town of Sopotkin existed a training base for the members of the "Hechaluts Hamizrachi" (Religious Pioneers).

“Hechaluts Hamizrachi” (Religious Pioneers)

About 90% of the young people in Sopotkin belonged to different Zionist organizations: "Hechaluts" "Hechaluts Hatsair" (the Young Pioneer), "Hashomer Hatsair" (the Young Guard), "Beytar" (a Zionist revisionist movement), "Hechaluts Hamizrachi" (Religious Pioneer), "Hashomer Hadati" (the religious guard). Hashomer Hadati was a branch of the "Hechaluts Hamizrachi." This branch was established in 1933.

In the village Biyali-Blood, about 5 kilometers from Sopotkin was organized a center of agricultural training. It was created by the "Hechaluts Hamizrachi". That center had about thirty members (male and female). They worked in Sopotkin doing all kinds of work. Sopotkin became the center of "Hachshara" (training) of the "Hechaluts Hamizrachi." Members came from all over Poland, got their training and waited for the moment to be able to go to the land of Israel. The branch of the "Hechaluts Hamizrachi" was the "Hashomer Hadati" (religious guard). The members of the Zionist organization were trained in the spirit of Torah and work ("Torah vaavoda").

Page 74

sop074.jpg [20 KB]
Training group of the “Hechaluts Hamizrachi” in Sopotkin (1934)
Standing first row (right to left):
1. Samuel Pikover, 2. Joseph Abilevitch, 3. Avrohom Yitschak Sidranski,
4. Faytl Doktorski, 5. ?, 6. Yaakov Klibanski, 7. Vinitski

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  1. The main zionist organization was "Hechaluts" (pioneer). The youth organization was called "Hechaluts Hatsair" (the young pioneer). [S. M.] Return

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