Translated from the Hebrew by Yariv Timna
Organized by the emissary Leah Widrowitz, from the head office of the Keren Kayemet LeIsrael in Bessarabia, with the help of the local activists.
List of the couples participating in the fundraising:
There were about 200 donators, and the income was 20,800 lei.
900 lei remained in debt, which until now were not collected.
|Hillel Dubrow||Yedinitz, April 3, 1931|
This report was found in Hillel Dubrow's estate, which he authored and was probably delivered to its destiny. This is a very typical report concerning names and numbers of donators and the sum gathered.
1. Shimshon Bronstein, zl; 2. Mina Dubrow (Tel Aviv); 3. Tzipa Toporovsky (Tel Aviv);
4. Liza Galperin; 5. Hillel Dubrow, zl; 6. Ita Bronstein; 7. TzeitelFradis, zl; 8. Sheva Klieger, zl; 9. Delegate Widrowitz; 10. Frieda Fuchs; 11. Chana Axelrod, Hyd; 12. Levi Tzinman, Hyd; 13. Fichman, Hyd; 14. Chana Chasid, Hyd; 15. HenyaSteinwortz, zl; 16. Sosya Shitz, Hyd; 17. Eva Bronstein, Hyd; 18. Toiba Zeidman, Hyd.
The photo was taken on the occasion of the departure of Hillel Dubrow the teacher. He was moving to the nearby town, Sokuran, to serve as a teacher. It was believed that he would stay in Sokuran (after several months, however, he returned to Yedinitz). The event was expressed in the form of an emotional farewell blessing on the back of the photo that said: Fate has removed you from among us. It was signed by all members of the local committee. The importance of the signing was because not only did it include of all those in the photo, but all those (from among the Ze'irei Zion members) missing from the photo. The photo is dated 2/27/1927 and at the end of Tishrei 1927. This gives us almost a full list of the members of Ze'irei Zion in town.
People in photo: 1. Shmuel Lerner (Varnetchka) 2. Moshe Kertzman 3. Rachel Chachamovitch 4. Fruma Litvak 5. Dina Serebrenik 6. Chaya Gerstein 7. Rosa Goichberg 8. Pearl Idelman 9. Moshe Furman 10. Meir Wolfenson 11. Chaim Cohen 12. Yisrael Baron 13. Pinny Grobman 14. Dina Rosenthal 15. Lyuba Sheindelman 16. Yeshayahu Topolor 17. Zvi Idelman 18. Yitzchak Baratchin 19. Naftali Goldman 20. --- 21. Chana Gertzman 22. Sony Ozeraner 23. Velvel Ludmir 24. Avraham Greenstein 25. Moshe Steinwartz 26. Mina Dubrow 27. Hillel Dubrow 28. Noach Leiderman 29. Zissel Ludmir 30. Moshe Grubard 31. Sima Horwitz 32. Lola Morgenstern 33. Sonya Gandelman 34. Zvia Cooperschmit 35. Ita Grobman 36. Ziva Dubrow 37. Leah Schwartzman 38. Devorah Steiff 39. Lyuba Bronstein 40. --- Cooperman 41. --- Rosenberg
Missing from photo: (Members of Ze'irei Zion listed by H. Dubrow): 1. --- Appelman 2. Mony Bernstein 3. Malka Beilin 4. Nechama Groman 5. Asher Goldenberg 6. Anshel Wolfenson 7.Chana Chasid 8.Avraham Ternovsky 9. Bobba Sandler 10. Yenta Chak 11. Yisrael Rosensthal 12. Leib Rosenthuler 13. Yitzchak Rosenthuler 14. Yitzchak Rosenberg 15. Yitzchak Schwartzman 16. Avraham Weissman, and others.
[Yiddish] The full text of the blessing is: We are too small to be able to order fate, which has torn you away from among us. The signatories to the back of the photo: Vice-chairman of Ze'irei Zion, Chaim Cohen; Secretary, Zev Ludmir; members of the committee: Zissel Ludmir, Rosa Hoichberg, Yitzchak Baratchin, Pinchas Grobman, Moshe Steinwartz, Yeshayahu Tolfolor, Zvi Idelman, Avraham Greenstein, Yisrael Rosenthal
by Yitzchak Bar-Zion Borochin
Translated from the Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov
|During the early 1920s there was a general awakening within the Zionist movement in Bessarabia. These were the days after the Balfour Declaration, the establishment of Keren Hayesod, and the beginning of the organization Hachalutz in Bessarabia with one of the first chapters established in Yedinitz.|
When I arrived from Sekuran to Yedinitz, I found there already a group of young intellectuals who were active in all the areas that were then accepted in the general Zionist organizations. At the head of the group stood the teacher Hillel Dubrow, and those close to him in the idea and activity were Yeshaya Tolpoler, Yisrael Rosenthal, Moshe Steinbortz, Pinny Grubman, Zvi Idelman, Zeev (Velvel) Ludmir, and others.
This was the period of the beginning of the chapter's organization, of the first meetings, in which we assembled regarding the procedures of the organization. Delegates like Yisrael Skabirsky and Leib Galantz arrived from the center in Kishinev.
Because there was not yet a specific place to hold these meetings, they assembled in the home of the teacher Dubrow, which was in the Shaarei Zion building (the school he directed and was also housed there).
At the same time, with the problems of organization, we increased operation in all the areas of Zionist activity: the elections to the Zionist Congress, collecting money for Keren Hayesod and Keren Hakayemet , for Hachalutz, Tarbut, and more.
The closest cooperation was between us and the Hachalutz chapter that operated in the town. A special committee was established for this purpose, in order to help the chapter mainly in its material distress. On behalf of the chapter, one of its first activists associated with the committee was Dov Tabachnik.
Another outstanding activity, which most of the party activists participated in, was the Keren Hayesod money-raising drive.
The visit of the delegation from Kishinev for about a week or two in our town to collect funds were days of work, publicity, and Zionist agitation on the one hand, and a deeply spiritual experience on the other. During these days, the party activist left his house and his business and dedicated his entire time to the fund-raising drive. One who did not see the activity and dedication of our members, together with the activists of the other Zionist parties, did not know the meaning of the faithful Zionist work, for the need of funding to redeem and build the Land of Israel, and from the point of view of with all your might
The party saw the crown of the headline of its wide activity in the establishment of the public library Tarbut and its operation of a minyan for prayer.
Since there was no serious public library in our city, the need to realize a library would, on the one hand, serve every seeker of a book, and there were many of those, and on the other, to concentrate also around it the public and Zionist activities of the party.
One factor that helped the public Zionist activity was the synagogue next to the library.
The Bromberg Hall, which housed the library and the minyan prayed on the Shabbat and holidays, was a kind of club for meetings and discussions of the party members. This hall stood deserted and partially destroyed for years. The party rented it, repaired it, and made it appropriate for its needs.
Every job needed the existence of the library. Members and volunteers were part of the minyan. Two members of the party served as cantors on the Shabbat and holidays Pinny Grubman was the cantor for shacharit and Pinny Rubenstein for musaf. The main livelihood of the latter was from his flour mill in the village Pochumbautz (Pociumbeni) and the income from those who came to the synagogue on holidays and the Shabbatot was dedicated to the maintenance of the library, the minyan, and all the expenses relating to them.
Sometimes, and when the two members Yisrael Rosenthal and Yitzchak Zilberman were absent, the watchmaker substituted for them.
The kiddush after the prayers, at the time of every family or private event, filled a special role in the synagogue. Alongside the refreshments, the wine and the lekachthat were served by the hosts of the event, a donation of money was also made to the library and the synagogue. Preparation for the kiddush had an additional aim, not less in its value: it was the conversations and discussions that took place during the kiddush. This was a kind of stage for arguments, for expressing the opinions of the party, and most of the worshippers counted among its ranks.
There was no incident, public or private, about the Zionist and the nationalist-governmental, that was not discussed during the hour of kiddush. The residents of the town were aware of these problems, were curious to know what was said and what was agreed upon at the Tarbut kiddush.
The arguments ended most of the time with Chassidic songs and songs of the Land of Israel, and sometimes even included a wild hora dance.
Even though decades with all their changes and events have passed since that time, the stormy discussions are still preserved in my memory, but the friendliness and the spiritual experiences of that kiddush
The library and the minyan operated for only a few years in the Bromberg Hall. At the beginning of the 1930s their location moved to the home of Chaim Vineshenker, where they took over an entire floor of the building. The house where they continued to exist until the Russian occupation at the beginning of the 1940s, put an end to both the library and the synagogue
Very many members of the Tzeirei Zion chapter merited to see the fulfillment of their souls' desire to make Aliyah to the longed-for Land of Israel. But unfortunately, there also were those who were not so lucky, and the activists among them will be remembered here: Yeshaya Tolpoler, Yisrael Rosenthal, Gershon Kliger, and those who even visited the Land before that on the threshold of the Holocaust, but their fate bet against them. They lost their lives in the Holocaust, and their dream, their souls' desire to arrive in the longed-for Land of Israel, was not fulfilled.
Top, from right to left: Moshe Friedman, Daniel Fuks (Israel), Sheindel Ackerman, Zelig Kerrick (Israel), Sarah Gertzman
Below: Esther Rosenberg, Shalon Serebrnik-Caspi (Israel), Ita Blank, Miriam Weizman-Caspi (Israel), Shimshon Bronstein
by Yosef Magen-Shitz
Translated from the Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov
|Sources of the history of Poalei Zion in Russiashow chronological lists in various Jewish encyclopedias (by the way, some of them written by Ber Borochov), about those cities and towns in Bessarabia which mention the clubs and fans where the movements were active. Among others, the cities of Kishinev, Telenesht, Soroki, Bender, and more, but not Yedinitz. In our town during the years at the beginning of the century, single Zionists or Zionist groups,undefined from a party standpoint, were active. There, began to be signs of some differentiation among the Zionists only after World War I, after the Russian occupation.|
It seems to me that Tzeirei Zion was the first one who appeared as a defined Zionist-party entity. It appeared in our town as they appeared in other towns in Bessarabia, connected together with Hachalutz. They are the ones who began to spread the idea of the working Land of Israel.
In those years, some young men joined the Hachalutz organization, which was based in Kishinev. It was organized and managed by the members of Tzeirei Zion. In the early 1920s, the Hachalutz Center established the first points of hachshara (preparation for Aliyah). Such a point, a carpentry shop, was established in our town. The halutzim (pioneers) were, for the most part, refugees from beyond the Dniester, and they were all members of Tzeirei Zion. But in the town, there were also Zionists who defined themselves as Workers of Zion. They expressed this only after Shimshon Bronstein, zl, arrived in our city. He brought with him the idea from Odessa and he united around himself those Zionists who observed some traditions of belonging to or supporting Poalei Zion before the revolution and the war. Among these were: Anshel Sheindelman, the son of the Zionist women's tailor Mordechai Sheindelman, my father, Moshe (Mashka) Shayetz, zl, who belonged to Poalei Zion in the city of his birth, Soroki, where there was an organized club of Poalei Zion already during the revolution and the discussions of the fifth year; Shimon's brother-in-law, the teacher Kozminer; the dentist Chaim Gokovsky (who, as I heard leaned afterward under the influence of his daughters toward the Communists); Aharon Garfinkel,
the owner of the cinema, Yosef Rissman; Leib Hochberg (der Edesser), several craftsmen, and others.
Initially, the main party activity was expressed by the distribution of the Poalei Zion shekel. As known, party shkalim were customary (until the management of the uniform Zionist shekel at the end of the 1920s). Since there was no organized group of Poalei Zion in Bessarabia, it was distributed the red shekel of Poalei Zion mainly in the Hotin district near Bukovina,. In Bukovina, the party remained as a remnant of the large Poalei Zion party in Austria. In Czernowitz, the party split during the 1920s into left and right factions. The left, as is known, pulled out of the Zionist organization and the right, or as it was called in Bukovina the Yiddish Social-Democratic Workers' Party Poalei Zion who put out a shekel of its own that was distributed by Shimshon Bronstein in Yedinitz, in the surrounding villages and, I think, also in the nearby towns. If my memory does not mistake me, there were distributed in Yedinitz several tens of Poalei Zion's shkalim.
I remember an argument that took place in our house between Shimshon Bronstein and Yisrael Rosenthal,zl , who belonged to Tzierei Zion. Shimshon wanted to convince his friend to buy a Poalei Zion shekel, who argued that he did not agree with two basic ideas of Poalei Zion, and I quote the expressions as they were engraved in my memory: Klapen Kopf and Shparchen Kamf
Occasionally there was a kind of meeting of Poalei Zion in our house. Somebody complained that the arbiter-class in the town was not inclined toward Zionism and Poalei Zion. Garfinkel remarked on that: Oyev s'gait nit baim arbeiter-class, tamid gayn tsum mittelin class (An enemy that doesn't go among the working class always goes to the middle class).
Then, I already had a recognition of proletarian standing (classen bavostaazinik); I derided the above unprincipled terrible order, and therefore, apparently, it was engraved in my memory.
But the source of the organization of the masses of Poalei Zion in Yedinitz and the entire region of Hotin, derives from the factionism that fell upon the youth organization Hatechiya. Chapters of Hatechiya popped up all over Bessarabia. In Yedinitz the association concentrated on the best of the local youth. Members of Tzeirei Zion from Kishinev and their friends in Hachalutz wanted to change the Hatechiya organization into a pioneering youth organization having an attachment to Hapoel Hatzair in the Land of Israel. In Poland, Gordonia was established as a reaction to the spread of Hashomer Hatzair, which then began to squint toward Marxism and the left. In 1927-1928, the people from Hachalutz, Tzierei Zion, and the emissaries from the Land of Israel who belonged to Hapoel Hatzair began to act in the direction of turning Hatechiya into Gordonia. We, the members of Hatechiya in Yedinitz, as well as members of Hatechiya in the other towns in the Hotin region, advised against this strategy.
In Beltz, a nationwide conference of Hatechiya from all of Bessarabia was gathered. The central axis of the argument, which echoed in the newspaper Undzer Tseit, was: A party youth organization or not. We opposed the partiness. The truth of the matter was that the delegates from the Land of Israel and Hachalutz pressured us toward acceptance of the principle of pioneering realization. Gordonia was an organization having this characteristic. The factionism fell on Hatechiya in Beltz. We, members of Hatechiya from the Hotin region, gathered after that in Czernowitz. We established a center and we decided to continue the existence of independent Hatechiya, not affiliated with a party. The center was housed in the Poalei Zion house in Czernowitz, and they spread their patronage over us.
Branches of the withdrawing Hatechiya constituted the foundation for branches of Poalei Zion in the Hotin region. From here, the movement branched out to all of Bessarabia.
The center in Czernowitz (the secretary was Weissadler from Hotin, now in Israel, who quickly abandoned his position from a lack of means of existence) was quickly canceled. In 1929, I moved to Czernowitz, and I worked for some time as a technical secretary in the Poalei Zion center. Because I did not receive the promised salary, I left the big city and returned to the town. Together with Shimshon Bronstein, we established an organized and active body of the party. We rented a hall, where activities took place every evening: lectures, debates, dances, and the like. Then, the active members joined, first of all, Shalom Serebrenik (today, Caspi), who had then returned from the Land of Israel where he was a member of Achdut Ha'avoda, Yisrael Koliker (who was caught afterward as a Communist and was tried by a Romanian court, he is now in Lvov) who then returned from his studies of the Hebrew language at the seminar in Czernowitz, as a member of Poalei Zion.
by Shmuel Kafri (Darf)
Translated from the Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov
Apart from the teachers of religious subjects, there were in town the teachers of Russian and secular studies who were called by the Russian term of uchitial. Apart from Russian they also taught mathematics and calligraphy. Among these secular teachers were the qualified students or those who learned at least in the gymnasia, and there were those whose knowledge was very minimal. One uchitial, whose name was Koifman, established the first chapter of Poalei Zion in Yedinitz. I was a boy then, and I was not interested in parties and politics. Since this Koifman lived near our house, he began to come to us to teach me calligraphy. He tried to speak in Yiddish, which was a bit Germanized. I remember he said that he participated in one of the committees of the Poalei Zion Party. An argument was conducted in this committee on the matter of languages, and he was among those who voted in favor of Yiddish. Among the first members of Poalei Zion in town was also Anshel ben Mordechai Sheindelman, the women's tailor (in Israel, Sheini). Precisely, Anshel tried to speak Hebrew. According to my conception at that time, I was of the opinion that it was Anshel's right to belong to a workers' party because he was the son of a craftsman. Anshel Sheindelman was the one who awakened in me the desire to read Yiddish. I was then about 11 years old, while Anshel was a grown-up boy. By the way, in the Poalei Zion of that time, there were those who opened the first library in Yiddish in town, alongside the Hebrew Zionist library that was housed in the Shaarei Zion Synagogue and the Russian Library that was established by the landowner Kazimir in the community center that he built. This was before World War I.
Standing, from right: Bruria Kutcher (Tel Aviv), Shalom Caspi (Serebrnik) (Herzlia), Bronka Gurfinkel (Brazil), Sarah Shitz-Meller (Tel Aviv)
Seated: Itsik Ackerman (died in Israel), Manya Weizman-Caspi (Herzlia), Esther Rosenberg (died in Yedinitz), Sarah Goldenstein (died in Israel)
The main activists in those attempts were Yisrael Koliker and Shalom Serebrenik (Caspi). Once, a strike was announced in Wineshenker's large fabric store, next to the Hosiatiner Klotz. The matter was managed according to all the rules of the game. The owner of the store received a notice and a warning. he did not like it one fine day Yisrael Koliker entered the store, he announced officially that there was a strike, and ordered everybody to leave the store, in this manner:
Arbiter, verpet di arbet!
We also established a kind of strike fund and Shalom Serebrenik paid Vochengelt for several strikers every Thursday afternoon. I do not remember the reason for the strike. I only remember that it ended with the support of several Zionists. It seems to me that Yaakov Rabin, zl, an enlightened man, a general Zionist, took part in all the activities on behalf of the Histadrut and Hachalutz. (On Dror and the Poalei Zion youth, there is more information in another place in this book).
A Leftist Poalei Zion Activist in the Land
by Z. Abramowitz
Translated from the Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov
Here is a short article, which is included in the book In the Service of the Movement (Y.L. Peretz and the Workers' Library, Publishers, 5725-1965) by Z. Abramowitz (one of the heads of the leftist Poalei Zion activists), about a man who was born in Yedinitz, who made Aliyah from Argentina, and who was active in Israel in the various Poalei Zion-leftist factions.
Yaakov Greenberg was born in 1891 in Yedinitz (Bessarabia) to a family of farmers. In 1908, he emigrated to Argentina and worked there in carpentry. He made Aliyah to Israel with the Jewish Battalion during World War I. In 1922, he joined the PoaleiZion-S.D.group (the ribotzkas)and with the Aliyah of Z. Abramowitz and the establishment of the Poalei Eretz Yisrael Poalei Zion party in 1923, he was counted with the heads of its activists. When he arrived in the Land of Israel, Yaakov Greenberg settled in Afula, and afterward, he moved to Haifa. He was accepted for work on the railroad; he organized the Poalei Zion movement among the railroad workers and was chosen as their representative in the Haifa Workers' Council. Greenberg was by nature an enthusiast, full of deep pathos for the Poalei Zion ideal, a vigorous fighter for comradeship between nations, and one of the heads of the fighters for an international organization of railroad workers. The factions in the party caused him great suffering but his activities and vigilance of the party's affairs were not deprived until he was stricken with a serious heart disease which cut him off from the daily activities in the party.
After Greenberg's son went to his kibbutz to settle in Misgav-Am in the Upper Galil, Greenberg closed his carpentry shop in Haifa, and in spite of his elderly age, he decided to settle in the kibbutz. While he was planning to establish a carpentry shop in Misgav-Am and provide training to young carpenters from among the members of the kibbutz, he sank beneath it because he took on so many tasks.
He passed away on August 1, 1956.
by Shimshon Bronstein
Translated from Yiddish by Pamela Russ
Shimshon Bronstein writes about the reorganization of the Poalei Zion
Signed by SB (Shimshon Bronstein) in 1929
Right David Kallis, Hyd
by Mordechai Reicher
Translated from the Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov
Young single men from Yedinitz left town and headed toward the Land of Israel well before the establishment of a chapter of the Hachalutz in Yedinitz. These were: Zvi Rosenthal, Shmuel Kafri (Dorf), Yosef Kliger, Benny Helfgott (Yankele the scribe), and others.
It is not surprising, however, that when the movement was started at the beginning of World War I, its sounds reached Yedinitz and attracted part of the youth, planting the first seeds of the Hachalutz movement in town, and which eventually became one of the largest central chapters of the movement in Bessarabia.
Mordechai Drori (Mottel Gratsh), one of the founders of the group, talks about the circumstances of its establishment:
The year is 1919. One day I happened to be in Briceva. I stood in the market and sold sewing notions. A group of youths passed in front of me, dressed in workers' clothing. I asked: Who are they? Pioneers! Answered my neighbor. By the way, the word pioneer tells me something. The echoes of this movement, whose members are preparing to make Aliyah to the Land of Israel, have already reached my ears. I accompanied the youths. They arrived at a certain place and stood to unload coal. I paid attention
that their language was Hebrew. It further became clear to me that these were students from Ukraine who arrived in the town a few months earlier, to prepare themselves for the Aliyah to the Land of Israel.
Mottel Gratsh went home, but the meeting with the pioneer youths did not let him rest. He began to ponder the situation of the youth in Yedinitz who were growing up without an economic base, without a purpose and content in life, cast down, dragged. The new regime of the Romanians depresses and discourages. And this Hachalutz is something new. It draws to the Land of Israel, with all that that means, and why not, if so, to establish a chapter of the movement in Yedinitz?
A letter went out to the Hachalutz headquarters in Kishinev, in which there was a suggestion to organize a chapter in Yedinitz. The answer was not late in coming. In the reply, the writer of the letter was informed that soon the emissary Yosef Barfel would arrive in Yedinitz, and he would help the youth who were interested in organizing a chapter of Hachalutz.
And indeed, a few days passed, and the emissary arrived. The emissary, Barfel, who was staying at the hotel of the widow Gleizer opposite the Garfinkel Hall, invited the young writer of the letter to come to him and there he opened between them a conversation like this:
Barfel: How many people do you have?
Drori: I am before you. I am prepared to concentrate on another number of youths. If they will be drawn to the matter, and how many they will be I cannot tell you.
Barfel: Go and try your strength, and we will meet again in a few more days.
Drori went out to the street. He gathered young men and women, about twelve, among them, were Zvi Botnick, Chaim Segel ( Zloczover), and his sisters Rivka, Sarah, and Chana, the sons of Fania Goldstein, Yaakov (Yakel) Tepper, Yaakov Karasin, the sisters of Mottel himself, Sarah and Riva, and others.
The second meeting with Barfel took place as planned after a few days. At that gathering, the foundation for establishing the chapter was laid out (1920). On that same occasion, it was even promised that an emissary would soon arrive from the headquarters who would assist the youth to organize the chapter in every way that can be understood.
If these youngsters knew exactly what they want, about the life of the pioneers, about the difficulties of a life of labor and society?
Mottel Drori testifies:
We knew that our final purpose was to make Aliyah to the Land of Israel. More than that, we didn't know a thing. We didn't have an idea of questions regarding society, of the reality of the Land of Israel, of all the problems and difficulties. However, we said: it doesn't matter. We will organize ourselves. We will begin to act and we will see what the results will be from the standpoint of 'we will do, and we will hear'.
The promised emissary arrived. This was the member Dov (Boria) Tabachnik, a young man that has wonderful energy and was the strength of the organization. In the first meetings with the new pioneers he explained to them the purposes of Hachalutz, and even taught them the songs that were sung in the movement: We Will Be the First Ones, Carry a Sign and Flag to Zion, Not by Day and Not by Night, G-d Lives for Me, G-d Is My Labor, What Is in the Vineyard? and more.
Everything was good and beautiful, even interesting until it was revealed the worrisome problems of a pioneering life and all that is involved in the training programs preparations (Hachshara) the housing, the work, the way of life, and another thousand matters that were not expected in advance.
The first place where we lived, where we entered to live together, was located in Yisrael Kormansky's yard, the apartment which was obtained with the active help of Zeev (Velvel) Ludmir. They were not concerned much with furniture. They arranged boards on stilts, and these were used for sitting during the day and for lying down at night. It was accepted to say, pioneers must suffer and that there were no objectors. The young women, for some reason, slept on the floor. Over time, it became clear that it is not obligatory to merely make things more difficult, and there is no reason to add to the difficulties that exist anyway, and that it was necessary to obtain beds so as to sleep like human beings. And again, they had the initiative of Zeev Ludmir. Anton the carpenter was brought, and he built beds from sheets of wood.
Their turn to determine the organizational and social institutions arrived. They did not bother much with elections. All of the obvious positions were placed on the shoulders of one member only, Chaim Segel ( Zloczover). He was the secretary, the treasurer, the economist, and even the teacher of Hebrew. Some did not know any Hebrew, but knowledge of the Hebrew language for the faithful pioneer was an irrevocable condition.
The first shining days passed, and the gray days came. It immediately became clear that there was no budget. There was nothing with which to support the people or to cover the minimal costs. Therefore, they had to begin to work, and
Right: Aryeh Zamora (Motsa, Israel)
Left: Yaakov (Yakel) Tepper (died in Israel)
this was the main foundation of the new creation, as they said, work and creativity.
It also became clear that for going out to do a simple labor the most acceptable job among the pioneers was chopping wood, but they did not have the necessary tools. Also, there was no money to buy them.
Rescue came from the hands of Yechiel Blank, owner of a store for iron materials on Market Street (Torhovitza). Yechiel Blank said to them: What do you need? Five axes, saws, files? Take what you need and the payment? When you have it, you will pay me.
Equipped with the necessary tools under their arms, and with the device (for holding a log to be sawed) on their shoulders, they appeared in the street.
How were they received? What impression did they make? How did people react to these strange young men? The impression and the attitude of the public to this strange appearance was not uniform. On the young people, the youth, the children, it made a strong impression. The word pioneers (Halutzim) in itself was a magic word in which the hidden meaning was greater than the revealed. They thought these youngsters were unique, exceptional individuals, some kind of a new reincarnation of the 36 Righteous Men, whose lives are holy for actually building the Land
A different approach was held on the part of the adults, except, of course, for the Zionists, in their various political parties. The Jew in the street, the shop owner, and the homeowner,
those who were to supply the work, especially chopping wood, related to them, some with scorn, some with ridicule, and some with a shake of the head, as if to say: These, Heaven forbid! They want to bring us the moshiach?
And Chaim Segel tells:
We went out in the street. At first, we were not received with much encouragement. We heard expressions such as 'Jewish children chopping wood; this is good for the gentiles or We are unable to see, in our great humility, that we, the sons of Israel, will be busy with this despicable work, and other similar expressions.
And indeed, for the first time, it was difficult to get work especially cutting wood, and they searched for additional sources of jobs in the Premislov oil factory, in various permanent jobs in Avraham Bronstein's garden, and others.
It is hard to say that with the tiny income that they had which was not even regular, it was enough to support the people and the other needs connected with the existence of the group. The food was very scant. In the kitchen, they had to plan and make a great effort to compose the daily menu when the main course was the mamaliga and used fried oil instead of butter. However, they were completing the scanty meal in the evening hours with a wild hora. As Chaim Segel said:
Despite the difficulties and suffering, our spirit did not break. The opposite of this was correct. The mood was high and the wild hora that burst out after the evening meal swept everyone into the circle, hand on a shoulder, and a powerful song excites: Who are pioneers? Israel! Who will build the Galil? - Pioneers will build the Galil! The feet dance and the song grow stronger and bursts beyond the room (then the group moved its housing to a rented house in Itzi Rabin's yard) and its echoes spread far and wide, in the late hours of the night
Before a year had passed, the group grew. Young people from the surrounding villages joined it as well as from the nearby cities in Lipkan, Securan, and Britchan. Refugees from Ukraine began to arrive in our town, among them were educated youth, students, some of whom joined the preparatory group (Hachshara) to make Aliyah to the Land of Israel after a time. It is worth remembering that most of the youth from Ukraine were lacking documents. And this was the job of Moshe Steinbortz and Shimshon Bronstein, to obtain forged documents for these people so that they would be able to live in town.
The new people strengthened the group with manpower for working and in cultural strengths for raising the life and vision of the society. Among these were some who knew Hebrew, two of them, Boria Perlmutter and Avraham Greenstein, even began lessons to teach the language.
With this, a need was revealed to broaden the sources of work. In addition, it became clear that cutting wood is not a job or a profession that is in demand in the Land of Israel .
And so, they arrived at the thought of opening two craft shops, a sewing workshop for young women (this was established in the living quarters in Rabin's yard)
a group of individuals in Petach Tikvah in the 1920s
1. Shalom Serebernik-Caspi 2. Efraim Schwartzman 3. Zvi Rosenthal 4. Daniel Rosenblatt 5. Chana Schwartz (Dezherot's)-Pitel 6. Michael Pitel
and a carpentry shop. The budget for purchasing the tools and machines was obtained with the help of the Hachalutz headquarters in Kishinev.
The carpentry shop was first installed in the basement of Avraham Bromberg's house and afterward it was moved to the spacious house of Simcha Gerber.
An average of ten members worked in the carpentry shop. A professional and instructor for the members at first were the carpenter Benny Buch and after him, the carpenter Koppel (who was known by the name of Koppel Stoller).
It is allowed to say that the members progressed very nicely in the profession and that the excellent furniture they made was in high demand. Even the face of the town, the senior clerks, and the Romanian heads of the government, were among their regular customers.
On the facade of the carpentry shop that was in Gerber's house, a sign was installed with huge letters in the Hebrew language: The Hachalutz Organization of Romania Yedinitz Chapter. Everyone who passed by the street encountered the sign with its content and language was had to pause, read the writing again and again, and was filled with excitement and pride in the honor that the group of pioneers was bringing to the town and its Jewish residents.
At that time, the living quarters of the pioneers moved to Leibush Botnik's house, which was in the upper market square (Torhobitza).
The members invested a great deal of energy, thought, and time in acquiring the Hebrew language and in creating a pioneering - Israeli way of life. They all were obligated to speak Hebrew There is no pioneer without Hebrew which was a mandatory order. The conversation about life and work in the Land of Israel held a wide space in the cultural activity. Even the Hebrew song did not depart from their mouths at any time, at work, during rest hours, in the evenings, and all the more so on Shabbats and holidays.
The Hachalutz in Yedinitz brought with it a refreshing spirit among the local Zionists. A Committee of Friends of Hachalutz was established giving the pioneers the moral encouragement and material help, and it stood by them in any time of trouble. Members of this committee were Moshe Steinbortz, the teacher Dubrov, Shimshon Bronstein, Yitzchak Borochin, Anshel Sheindelman, Zeev Ludmir, and others.
Motel Drori remembers after 50 years as if the matter happened only yesterday:
The Hachalutz House was a place that drew some of the youth from the town who were much younger than us. They were drawn to us, they listened to the songs, admired the wild horas, and were entranced by the Land of Israel's atmosphere that surrounded the house and those who lived there.
The Hachalutz chapter existed in Yedinitz for only three years. The movement decided that agricultural work should be seen as the main preparation for a life of labor in the Land of Israel. Then, the preparatory agricultural farms were established in Rogozhny and Bilicziny, and later in various places all over Bessarabia and Romania.
The pioneers from Yedinitz went to the agricultural preparation in Rogozhny, in the center of Bessarabia, in a region where Baron Hirsch established Jewish agricultural settlements at the end of the previous century. The pioneers from Zabriceni also arrived here: Dov Yampolsky (Yaron); Eliezer Reich (Ro'i) and his wife Rachel.
Rachel Reich (Ro'i) wrote about the Rogozhny farm. Among other things, she wrote the following:
The preparatory farm of the Hachalutz in Rogozhny was actually the first of its kind that was established in the image of the kibbutz in the Land of Israel. The Hachalutz center gathered the best youth from all over Bessarabia. The emissaries from the Land of Israel (and the persistent one among them, Shmulik Shapira) even compared it in its way of life and its administrative structure to the original kibbutz, and our pride (and the pride of the entire Hachalutz, of course) was in that.
The shared life on collective foundations and the cultural way of life based on the purity of Hebrew that it absorbed from the labor literature from HaPoel Hatzair and from the Unity of Labor pamphlets; from the writings of A.D. Gordon, and the creations of Y.C. Brenner and, of course, from the poets of the period, the closest to our heart being Yaakov Fichman (because
Right: Eliezer Reich-Ro'i and his wife Rachele (Petach Tikvah)
he was Bessarabian), from the revolutionary period and the energy of the youth, all these and the like, together, poured out into this first farm a creative spirit.
The preparation period lasted for three and a half years, with its difficulties, its hardships, its pains, and its vision, until finally, the hour of fulfillment arrived, the Aliyah to the Land of Israel. In May 1924, the certificates were received for the first group of immigrants among them were Zvi Botnik, Yaakov (Yakel) Tepper, Chaim Segel, and his sisters, and Motel Drori.
Chaim Segel tells:
On the last evening before the departure, a goodbye party was held for the veterans with the participation of friends of Hachalutz, and at their head was Shimshon Bronstein. In the town then there was a military situation by order of the government. Therefore, the party was planned modestly and quietly. The next day, we organized our belongings ready to go out on the road, and at the last moment, we experienced an obstacle. People from the regime appeared and confiscated all our belongings. The reason was that we remained obligated to pay taxes. Two of us were even arrested. With intensive effort on the part of the Zionists Neta Shor and Yaakov Rabin, the matter was resolved and we managed to leave in a good hour.
In June 1924 the first pioneers from Yedinitz arrived as an organized group in the Land of Israel; their souls' desire, which they expressed in its full strength in the words of the song We came to the Land to build it and be built by it was satisfied and fully actualized.
by Mordechai Reicher
Translated from Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov
|It snowed all night. The storm wind raged unabated and tossed the hefty snowflakes on the humble houses in the yard we lived near the Kinska synagogue, the one I prayed together with my father when I was a boy on Shabbat and holidays.
I woke up in the morning. The windows were covered with white snow and frost. I approached a window curious to see what happened outside. The roofs, the fences, and the pile of logs across from the entrance to our house were a mantle of white. I go outside with a bundle of books and notebooks under my arm to go to the cheder of Reb Zussia Melamed in the yard next to ours, with only a rickety, broken fence between them.
As soon as I went out the door of our house, I had a surprise. Next to the pile of wood at the end of the yard next to the cheder of Leib Melamed (who for some reason was called Leib Knish), a group of young men dressed in shabby winter clothing were preparing to chop the thick logs in the pile. At first, I was unable to understand what was happening there. Jewish youth cutting wood? For What reasons? Always when winter approached, we were accustomed to meeting groups of gentiles, groups of three or four men equipped with cutting tools (saws and axes) to chop wood for heating in winter the homes of the Jewish residents in town. But Jewish youth cutting wood? A wonder!
The news spread quickly among the residents of the yard, and all burst outside to see from nearby the spectacle breaking out in their yard Jews cutting wood.
The young men began to work. Two of them set up an appropriate place to rest the log, and with a long saw in their hands, they began to cut the wood with agile movement looking like experienced woodcutters. The third member of the group arranged a kind of anvil from a big-bellied log, grabbed the handle of the ax, and began with ease to split the prepared logs. He raised the ax and lowered it, raised and lowered it until he found the right rhythm as if the ax danced under his hands stuck in the place he fixed his eyes on. With every thrust, the piece of wood was split into two.
The audience stood around the group, wondering to know what was happening before their eyes. Slowly, slowly, the riddle was solved: these youngsters were pioneers. That is what the woodchoppers called themselves to prepare to travel (the idea Aliyah was not yet widespread) to the Land of Israel
Nevertheless, a few closed questions remained and the astonishment still stood:
- Jewish children, certainly soon the sons of Governors (negidishe kinder), woe to my years, the nice times of woodcutters have arrived, said one neighbor wrapped in a winter sweater, shaking her head.
- Nu, what will you say about them? Yitzchak the shoemaker (who was called 'Itzikl shister), an erect, broad-bodied Jew with a white beard crowning his size turned to the curious crowd. What will you say? They want to bring the redemption, to bring the moshiach by chopping wood if they only could, then quite so, explained Yitzchak the shoemaker as a sign of peacemaking
A Jew with a sparse beard who just returned from the morning prayers in the synagogue with his tallit under his arm stopped next to the youth. He examined them with the eye of a Torah scholar and brought out his own explanation: So be it, they want to chop wood, they will enjoy it, but what does this have to do with the Land of Israel? Here it is written, he searches for the correct verse: a man under his vine and his fig tree,' Rashi comments actually working the land
The cut wood was stacked in piles. The owner of the ax drove it into the anvil as a sign for having breakfast. The woodcutters folded their coats on their backs; removed the dust from the stone stair next to one of the houses and sat down to eat. With chattering teeth and great appetite, they chewed the dry bread and the sausage and sipped the cold tea from the tin cups in their hands.
Without paying attention to me, I plodded to the cheder when the other children learned the lesson together in a loud voice. I opened the book and started to read. But who was able to learn? The words were leaping before my eyes and my thoughts were driven to the youth chopping wood in the nearby yard; and my ears listened to the voice that repeated the words : Pioneers Go Up to The Land of Israel'
A year passed. The Hachalutz chapter in our town with this peculiar group of people was established. A regular carpentry shop took the place of the woodcutters in the spacious home of Simcha Gerber in the center of the main street (the post office street) and not in a deserted yard as before.
We were boys, nine and ten years old, students in the school of the teacher Hillel Dubrow in the Shaarei Zion synagogue buildings, some distance from Gerber's house, the carpentry shop of the pioneers.
On our way home from school, we stopped next to the house. Over the door frame on its façade hung a large sign. It was in Hebrew, an eye-catcher that said: The Pioneer Organization in Romania Yedinitz Chapter. We could not keep our eyes away from the sign. For some reason, in our eyes, it seemed to be seven times bigger. We read what was written again and again.
A kind of feeling of unique satisfaction overcame us. The wide, large windows on both sides of the door were turned toward the street. We could look in and see what was going on inside. The hall was long and there were worktables along the walls. The people, the pioneers, were bent over the tables. We could not distinguish from far exactly what their work was. They were doing their job with speed, diligence, and industriousness and the words of a song rose in the space of the room, a song we already recognized from previous meetings with the pioneers:
Morning, morning comes for working
Noon, noon comes for eating
Evening, evening comes for resting
We stood fascinated for a long time next to the windows. We looked with envy and in admiration at the young men inside, who then appeared in our eyes as strange and large at the same time, carrying with them a higher mission, the true importance, and nature of which we did not yet know
Saturday night (Motzei Shabbat). Most of the people in our city, especially the youth and the young people, liked to walk around for their enjoyment. What does it mean to walk around? There was a traditional route going from the corner of the Seminaria (a seminary for novice priests) up the street (in the 'Patchova) and continued (part of the public, who were older, was satisfied with the distance of the path until Shmuel Loibman's Synagogue) to the city park (the Biluar), and back. This time we went off the regular path to widen the circle. We turned toward the market square that was at the top of the town (the Tarhowitza). At the entrance of one of the houses, and next to its windows, was a crowd of curious people. We approached them. This was at Leibush Botnik's house, the residence of the pioneers. I succeeded in pushing through the crowd and reached the window. The room was wrapped in the darkness of the evening. Weak light from a rusty oil lamp hung from the ceiling fell on the faces of the residents of the house. The pioneers were sitting on the wood beds along the walls, and a pleasant, quiet song spilled into the space of the room:
What does the rain want to teach us?
What did it come to show me?
There are drops of water on the windows
Like teardrops going down.
And the shoes are torn
And the mud is spreading in the street
Winter is coming
I don't have a warm coat
The song continues, spreads, and accompanies the movements of the pioneers like the scholar in the study hall, bent over a page of the Gemora. Before this song comes to its end, someone begins to chant a Chassidic song, awake, and happy:
And purify our hearts, purify our hearts to serve you in truth
And it is as if all of them are lit up by the words of the song. Their eyes are shining and the words that burst from their heart with unusual emotion are accompanied by clapping of hands:
And purify our hearts, purify our hearts to serve you in truth, in-tru-th (b-e-m)
The tune excites the hearts. The pioneers get up all at once from their seats. In a blink of an eye, the long table that was in their center is pushed away. The room grew and became wider. Hand on shoulder, foot to foot, many of those standing on the side are joining the circle that is growing. The feet are stamping with strength, and someone starts to sing:
We came to this country singing and chanting
And everyone else:
Singing and chanting
And two aloud say, in a hoarse voice:
Who will build Israel?
The Pioneers will build Israel!
The song gets stronger and the wild dance breaks out, their shirts are already scattered and their sweaty shoulders are revealed and shining. The voices are hoarse. No one leaves the circle until the strength and the spirit are finished
When I went home the streets were empty of people. The skies were strewn with stars. The peace of the night fell over the town. In my ears, the words echoed:
Who will build the Galil? - The Pioneers will build the Galil!...
If my memory is not mistaken it was the teacher Dubrow who told me one day about the decision to also organize alongside the Hachalutz branch, a branch of the Young Chalutz movement, and if I wanted to, I could join as a member of the new organization. He also told me on that same evening that a foundation meeting of the chapter would take place in the city park.
The details of the new organization were not really clear to me; however, I knew that this had a connection with the pioneers, with their way of life, the songs, and the dances, and this in itself was enough for me to receive the invitation willingly and even with satisfaction.
It was a calm evening in the spaces of the park despite the tumult and noise dominating there on Saturday nights and holidays. The teacher already waited for us in the park. With him was a member of the Hachalutz branch. He was of short height, thin, and wore glasses. Afterward, I found out that this was Yosef Pressman, one of the leaders of the chapter.
We, a group of youngsters, sat in a circle in a corner deep in the park, and among us were the two adults.
1. Aryeh Zamora (Motsa), 2. Yaakov Tepper, zl,
and the others are unknown.
The teacher Dubrow began to speak. He spoke of the traces of the war in Europe, the pogroms against the Jews of Ukraine, the Balfour Declaration, and the pioneering Aliyah to the Land of Israel.
The darkness became thicker. The tops of the trees covered over our heads and did not allow even a little light from the moon to penetrate to us. The darkness grew.
Only the eyes of the children sitting next to each other sparkled like shiny flashes of fire.
The chaver Pressman added some words to ones of the teacher. He told us of the deeds of bravery of the pioneers in the Land of Israel. He described the conditions of their life, that they live in tents in the burning days of summer and on winter nights of rain and storm. Here he paused a bit and to illustrate his words he began a song of glory:
A bent tent. Autumn. And it dripped.
Who is this who will cry there: u, u, u?
A jackal or a wind? A brother or a dog?
And every drip is a tear.
Pressman stopped his song-tune. Silence. No one opened his mouth and spoke. A cold wind blew between the trees in the park. We got up from the ground. There was a feeling as if we were until now somewhere else, in another world, far, far away. The hour was late. We had to go home. We walked quietly, friend beside friend. No one spoke; no one wanted to stop the song from continuing, of the cloth tent that the autumn wind tore, and the one who was crying inside it, a pioneer, a refugee from Ukraine, a son without a home, a wanderer in the world. And perhaps a mother crying over her son who became a pioneer, a woodcutter; the questions ran around in the head without an answer
When I came near my house, it was midnight
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