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The “Gordonian Pioneer” Youth Organization {Cont.}

[Page 285]

At the end of the celebration a reception for the visitors was arranged next to set tables, in keeping with the Tu Bishvat holiday, based on fruit and citrus juices from the Land of Israel. The songs continued till 2:00 o'clock in the morning and the walls “shook” from the enthusiastic hora dancing.

Every year in summer we organized special camps in the Beskid Mountains (Szczyrk, Rajcza) or in villages in the area, whose skies were clear and didn't have the coal dust of Zagłębie. We had a pleasant time surrounded by nature, in the pine forests, on hikes, swimming, playing games, however cultural activity was not neglected either. The camps were run by the principal members, in cooperation with the summer camp participants, who would always return home after 3 to 4 weeks of a refreshing vacation, full of impressions and experiences, and waited impatiently for the next camp. We also participated in special camps (Ciechanów, 1938) that were organized by the main leadership for training counselors and leaders, and also the Augustów camp for candidates for the youth village in Ben Shemen [Israel].

From 1929 our members who were ready for “realization” [to go and live in Israel] went for training in the Hechalutz farms in Zaklików, Sosnowiec, Wiślica, Zagnańsk, Wieluń and others. The leaving for training, and particularly aliyah to the Land of Israel, met with quite a lot of resistance on the part of the parents, who were mainly worried about their daughters, and more than once they approached us with a request to delay the aliyah of their children…the reality proved, that the cursing we underwent more than once was a blessing, and to our credit, tens of Gordonia members in Będzin were saved and live in Israel, and they weep for their fathers, who are no longer with us.

These are the first pioneers: Sara Openhajm-Fuks, Bela Wajshaus-Blaj, Chana Wolhendler-Szwimer, Riwa Kurc-Hojftman and Chanoch Werdyger.

We were active in the “League for a Working Land of Israel” and in particular in Hechalutz, in which our influence was significant. When reading through the material on Gordonia in Będzin, I came across the following two articles:

“… Youth Day (August, 1926) for a Working Land of Israel caused general interest in the general pioneering youth organizations and the Zionist Labor parties. A large information meeting was held in which 300 youths participated. Our comrade Mordechai Hampel gave a speech, amongst the other speeches, on the workers' organization, its activities and achievements. There were speeches by representatives of other youth organization. Members of Yugent from the Left Poale Zion continually disrupted. They were given permission to speak, however instead of talking about the subject, they strayed from the theme and “determined” that from 1924, when Left Poale Zion quit the P.A.P. (Palestiner-Arbeter-Fund [Palestinian Workers Fund] – the Land of Israel Fund), the fund was an instrument used by the bourgeoisie … Comrade Kozlowski gave them back in duplicate. The meeting decided that everyone stands behind the call for a Working Land of Israel”.

…This month (November, 1932) a regional meeting of the Gordonia members in Zagłębie was held in Będzin. A day before the meeting there was a conference in Sosnowiec of all the Gordonia pioneering groups in Poland. Participating in the conference were representatives of groups from Sosnowiec, Wiślica, Działoszyce, Lipo, Pabianice, Zagnańsk, Sieradz. Missing were representatives from away frontier towns. Participating in the conference on behalf of the main leadership were: Dr. Jiszajahu Szapiro, Josef Likwer, Chaim Goldfarb, Jona Goldberg-Yigol and Gerszon Ostrowski (all of them in Israel) on behalf of the Hechalutz center. A lively discussion took place about the foundations of the Hechalutz movement and about the state of our pioneering groups in Poland. Participating in the discussion were: Nachum Kelerman, Israel Introligator, Sonia, Abram Bajtner, Icchak Londner (all of them in Degania B), Cwi Kutner, Jonatan Wajsbord (both of then from Będzin – Degania B, died a heroic death during the War of Independence); Israel Grojer and others.

…The festive meeting took place in the “Kapitol” theater. Preceding it there was a mass parade in the streets of Będzin. Hundreds of Gordonia members marched together to their meeting place. The stage was decorated and covered in greenery. An honor guard stood next to the center's flag. Greetings by all the local organizations were heard. Dr. I. Szapiro, a member of Kvutzat Hulda, lectured about “Zionism and the Land of Israel at this time”.

Bed-285.jpg [36 KB] - The first pioneers of "Gordonia"
The first pioneers of “Gordonia” [movement] on the eve
of their immigration to Israel in 1930

Standing from right to left: Szoszana Cymberknopf (America), Szymon Rus,
Bela Wajshaus (both in Israel), Jakob Szwarcbaum (died in Israel), Batia Fersztenfeld (Israel).
Seated: Szoszana Kleinman (Israel), Juda Anzelewicz (killed), Chana Wolhendler,
Mosze Frenkel, Sarah Openhajm, Mordechai Hampel (all of them in Israel)

[Page 286]

After the end of the opening ceremony, the following day, the rest of the meetings were held in the Hitachdut hall which dealt with educational, pioneering, movement and organizational questions. A regional committee was elected, in which Abram Bajtner (Sosnowiec – Degania B [a kibbutz]) participated on behalf of the main leadership.

Since we were established and properly organized we were dispersed through the whole region and established new centers and supported existing ones. All our organizations in Zagłębie were unified under a regional leadership whose location was our town. From time to time we came together for regional meetings for study purposes and clearing up movement problems. I will mention my comrades in Będzin in the regional leadership during the years that I was active: Cwi Kutner and Jonatan Wajsbord both of blessed memory, Icchak Londner, Jiszajahu Rapaport, Icchak Kohen, Chanoch Werdyger, Dawid Safirsztajn, Szymon Rus, Szoszana Klajnman Rus, Batia Fersztenfeld-Pomeranc, Mosze Frenkel (all of them in Israel), Ruwen Liwer and Juda Anzelewicz (killed), and in the coming years till the end of the threat: Mordechai Krzesiwo (Keshev), Jechezkiel Gelcer, Ben Zion Himelfarb, Abram Manela (all of them in Israel), Nachum Gitler (America), and dearest Chanka Bornsztajn (killed).

The organization customarily held memorial services every year on the anniversary of the death of A. D. Gordon and Joseph Trumpeldor. The following are two articles from various newspapers:

… In the “Korso” cinema an academy dedicated to “Tel Hai” was held (1938). Dr. Arie Tratkower lectured about Trumpeldor and Tel Hai, and called for an increased effort for the Land of Israel Workers Fund campaign drive. In the entertainment segment that was performed by Gordonia members, and was directed by actors from the Vilna company [Vilner Troupe], Nochumow (he is Nachum Melnik from Będzin) and Dwora Rozenblum (both in America) stood out, and amongst others there were Jechezkiel Glecer (Israel), Abram Federman and Jakob Openhajm (killed). The academy ended with the singing of Techezkna

On the 20th of February, 1933 a meeting was organized in memory of A. D. Gordon on the anniversary of his death. Juda Anzelewicz opened [the meeting] in Hebrew. Jakob Gozelko (Gorali, a former member of the Hitachdut, is now in Israel), who was representative of Keren Hayesod in our town, gave a detailed speech in Hebrew about A. D. Gordon and his doctrine. In the entertainment segment, that was performed to the enjoyment of the large crowd that filled the “Kapitol” theater, and outstanding in their recitations were Pirchija Wajsbord, Mordechai Krzesiwo (Keshev) – the choir director, Judit Brauner (Israel) – the choreography director. The scenery was prepared by Szmul Klajnman (Israel). This meeting left an unforgettable impression.”

The last appearance in front of the public in Będzin was in 1939, on the 17th anniversary of the death of A. D. Gordon, in the “Nowoszczi” theater. Anzelewicz opened [the evening] and following him the chairman of the Hitachdut in Będzin, the community leader Mosze Rozenker (Israel), continued. Jakob Ori from Nahalal described in his lecture memories of his meetings with A. D. Gordon. The cultural segment which included the acts: “Chanita”, “Jews in their independent country”, “Over the graves of Gordonia members in Kvutzat Maleh Hachamisha”, recitations and rhythmic dancing, aroused appreciative applause and great pleasure.

When I left Będzin I passed on to my successors a prodigious and strong organization, which showed signs of continuous expansion, in which I invested six years of productive activity that was also later nurtured, secretly away from the view of the Germans, and my comrades were amongst the leaders of the agricultural farm in which a underground self-defense plan was expounded.

Luck only smiled on some tens of us (there is an estimate that the number of Gordonia graduates from Będzin in Israel stands at more than one hundred), who managed to make aliyah to the land of Israel through various means and enjoy life and happiness in an independent Israeli state, however our hearts weep for the hundreds of our comrades whose eyes did not see the foundation of the State, their dream.

And I will hereby recall some of my friends who are innocent martyrs, incinerated and suffocated by gas, victims of hunger and the sword, who were active as group and unit leaders, and center representatives in conferences and various institutions, and we will note the souls of: Szlomo Cymerman, Chanka Bornsztajn, Juda Anzelewicz, Ruwen Liwer, Szlomo Lerner, Abram Feldberg, Abram Federman, Dorka Cymerman, Rachel Bokowska, Cypora Glajtman, Rywka Radzinska, Sara Szporn, the Stawski sisters, Sara Eksztajn, Miriam Frajtman (she was in Israel and returned because of a chronic illness), Lea Fisz, Jekutiel Krok, Jankele Openhajm, Baruch Przenieco, Riwa Niedzwiedzka and many others whose names I don't recall. May there memories be blessed for eternity!

Bed-286.jpg [34 KB] - The local executive of "Gordonia"
The local executive of “Gordonia” (1929)
Standing from right to left: Iszajahu Rapaport, Cypora Gleitman (killed),
Mordechai Hampel, Chawa Woznica (both in Israel), Nahum Gitler (America).
Seated: Szlomo Cymerman, Ruwen Liwer (both killed), Mosze Frenkel, Szymon Rus (both in Israel).

[Page 287]

When I made aliyah with a group of Gordonia members at the beginning of 1932 we established Kvutzat Gordonia B in Rishon Lezion, and from there we moved our tents for next few years to Nachlat Yehuda and Herzlia that was the last stop in our wanderings. There we joined with Kvutzat Mishmar Hasharon and moved to the permanent settlement on land in Wadi Chorat in the Hefer Valley, that teemed with swamps and malaria. In Kvutzat Mishmar Hasharon, Degania B, Massada, Ramat David, Ma'ale Hachamisha, Newe Yam and other farms, Gordonia members from Będzin are to be found, continuing the lifestyle in the spirit of the principles in whose light they were educated and grew up in. Our comrades are also situated in moshavim and moshavot, in villages and towns and many of them are active in organizational and public life. The field of our activities that was attained and sewn by an industrious hand, bore its fruits and was the payment for our activities.

These were glorious years, full of heart-warming memories, that won't be forgotten, and the heart is still full with the memory of a period imbibed with yearning and longing, ambitions and hopes.

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