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[Page 387]

K. Organizations of former Będzin
residents throughout the world

[Page 388]

1. Bedziners in Israel

[40 KB] Activists of the Zaglembia Émigrés in Israel (Pinkas Bendin, page 388)
Activists of the Zaglembia Émigrés in Tel Aviv

Standing from right to left
Israel Zoneband, Moniek Czerszacz, Mrs. Najfeld, Avraham Gold,
Kalman Honigman, Tzvi Zilbersztajn, Elimelech Diamant, Jochanan Laudan,
Chaim Warszawski, Israel Szwajcer, Menachem Gelband.
Mosze Benjamin Kleinman, Guta Jotkowicz (Ben-Yitzhak),
lawyer Dr. Reuwen Rechtman, Rechil Gutman, David Liwer, Mordechai Hampel.

[Page 389]

[34 KB] Activists of the Zaglembia Émigrés in Israel (Pinkas Bendin, page 389)
Activists of the Zaglembia Émigrés and “Pinkas Bendin”
in Tel Aviv with the book’s editors,
David Liwer and Mordechai Hampel

Seated from right
Avraham Gold, David Liwer, Miriam Liwer, Mordechai Hampel, Zeev Landvai.
Standing from right:
Asher Fiszel, Lajbel Kokotek, Szraga Rozenblum, Chanoch Malach,
Szlomo Bolimowski.

[Page 390]

2. Former Będzin residents in Israel

by M. H.

Translated by Nitsa Bar Sela z”l

Edited by Yocheved Klausner

According to a careful estimate (on the basis of the lists we possess and the vast participation in memorial ceremonies for the martyrs of our community), in Israel there are about two thousand former residents of Będzin and their numbers grow with the immigration of survivors arriving from Poland. Będziners live in Israel all over the country: in towns, villages, kvutzot [groups] and moshavim [cooperative agricultural settlements]. They have professions in industry, commerce, agriculture, clerkship, education and more. Generally speaking, they have adapted themselves to the life in the country, have become devoted citizens and have connected their future with the land whole-heartedly.

In the years of the great tide of immigration from Poland, 1924-1925, when hundreds of people came from our town to Israel (most of whom belonged to the middle class, but failed, unfortunately, in their business here and returned to Będzin to be annihilated in the Holocaust), there was no need to found a special “landsmanshaft” [society of immigrants from the same town or region], because whenever the immigrants confronted hardships, they were helped and supported by “The General Association of the Immigrants of Poland”, which helped all of them, no matter what town or community they came from.

But when World War II broke out in 1939, and the first horrendous news started to reach Israel about the Holocaust and the Będzin refugees escaped to Russia, Będziners in Tel Aviv began to get together with the purpose to send help to the suffering refugees in the plains of Siberia. Similar attempts were made in other cities, Haifa and Jerusalem, where there was a large concentration of Będziners. However, most attempts to organize the people failed, because very few were ready to devote themselves to this mission.

One day, by the end of 1939, several people met in the home of Mr. Zilbersztajn in Tel-Aviv. They were Abram Hampel, Icchak Rudoler, Josef Szapiro (all three have passed away since), Chaim Welner, Szraga Rozenblum, Szlomo Bolimowski, Kalman Honigman, Icchak Inwald, Josef Cwi Rajs, Elimemech Diamant, Leibl Kokotek and others. They laid the foundation to the organization of the former residents of Będzin. For a long while, they assembled in the flat of Mr. Zilbersztajn, who was very devoted to the organization in its first years. Icchak Rudoler was the head of the organization (until his death), Bolimowski and the late Szapiro were the secretaries and Rozenblum was the treasurer.

The organization was duly registered in the governing offices as an official association, which had the right to proceed publicly in fundraising and manage fiscal projects. Its objectives were defined as helping the Będzin refugees who suffered in Russia and supporting the few immigrants who succeeded in reaching Israel, after a long journey through neutral countries.

Former residents of Będzin in the USA, especially our good friend Abram Liwer, who was himself one of the refugees in Russia and succeeded, after painful wanderings, to bring his entire family to the United States, met and organized constructive help by sending us by mail packages containing shoes, clothes and food, to be sent by us to Russia to addresses that we had obtained. Since this organization was registered by law, the parcels that we received from America were cleared of customs and other taxes and we could send them to the USSR without delay. We received letters and telegrams (which we still keep in the memory of those bitter days) which confirmed that the parcels reached their destination and helped them survive, and that they needed much more of them.

We did not count on former residents of Będzin in America alone, and started fundraising among Będziners in Israel as well. We sent a special circular to our people, in which we asked them to donate generously. We also distributed shares, which yielded several hundreds of Israeli pounds (liras), a considerable sum in those days, established membership dues, gave parties – and all the money collected was used to distribute packages and offer financial assistance to new immigrants.

In 1944 a new committee was elected: Mordechai Tenenbaum, of blessed memory, Asher Fishel, Szraga Rozenblum, Dawid Liwer, Alter Brukner, Szlomo Bolimowski, Menachem Gelband, Hanoch Malach, J. C. Rajs. This committee succeeded greatly in placing new immigrants in jobs and finding housing for them. As an example, three families were put up in a rented three-room shed on Dizengoff Street and eleven single men were put up in another shed on Levinski Street.

That year we received letters from the Jewish committee in Będzin, who appealed desperately for immediate financial help for the survivors who were arriving to Będzin from death and labor camps. Indeed, our committee immediately mobilized assistance. They raised funds among Będziners in Tel-Aviv, who donated nice sums of money. The money was intended to help in two directions: for our brethren in the deserted Będzin and for our people who were making their way to Eretz Yisrael. The mission of delivering the donations to their destination was not easy because large sums were spent on the way.

This situation lasted a few years. Meanwhile, the idea arose to join our organization with the other organizations of Zagłębie into one body so as to render our activities more efficient by saving money spent on administration. In the beginning of 1949 the people of Zagłębie met in a general assembly, in which they decided to unite he two organizations.

[Page 391]

A union was set up, which included the former residents of Będzin, Sosnowiec and Ząbkowice, under the name of “The Zagłębie World Organization”. For five years the united organization was headed by the late Rabbi Menachem Hager who helped to achieve several of the objectives of the organization. The deputies were Nechemia Singer, the lawyers Dr. Sapir and Dr. Rechtman, and Dawid Liwer. The secretaries were Chaim Triger and Mordechai Hampel. Majer Landsman served as treasurer and other posts were held by Mrs. Guta Jutkowicz (Ben-Itzhak), the lawyer Dr. Josef Orsztajn, Chaim Warszawski, the late Dawid Marinka, Israel Sonabend, Israel Szwajcer, the brothers Szlomo and Jochanan Laudon and others.

As mentioned before, the remnants of all the communities of Zagłębie formed the united organization, except for the people of Dąbrowa Górnicza who, for some reason, declined to join us and established an organization of their own.

When the late Rabbi Hager served as Head, the organization flourished. It consisted of more than five hundred certified members who often met for social events, and there were many of them: concerts, balls and performances, the purpose of which was to collect donations for the needy and loans for new immigrants. For five years I was active in the Organization of the Zagłębie People, together with the late Rabbi Hager. I was in charge of secretarial work and promoted close relationship with landsmanshaftn abroad, especially in Paris.

Anybody who calls on us is assisted and we try to facilitate his absorption and acclimatization in the country. Thousands of Israeli pounds were distributed to the new immigrants thanks to our connections with some banks in Tel-Aviv, who helped with loans, which we vouched for. We also tried to find jobs, housing, appliances (sewing machines and others), medical help and more. Many of the new immigrants, who in time settled down economically, appreciate our modest moral and material support, thanks to which they have managed to overcome their first absorption problems.

And although our means were small, since we did not receive any help from America despite all our appeals, we did all we could in order to help the needy and we never send them away empty-handed.

The peak activity of the Organization of the Zagłębie Former Residents is the erection of a memorial to the martyrs of Zagłębie. It stands in a central place in the cemetery in Nahlat Itzhak, near Tel-Aviv.

With the death of Rabbi Hager the organization split up again and weakened as a consequence. A new “Organization of Będziners” was set up and its committee consisted of the lawyer Dr. Rechtman, head, Elimelech Diamant, secretary, Menachem Gelband, treasurer, Mrs. Rechil Gutman (of the family of Rabbi Graubart, of blessed memory), Abram Gold, Mosze Benjamin Klajnman and Moniek Sercarz.

The activities of the new organization are not particularly noticeable, unfortunately. Except for a few loans to new immigrants and the traditional yearly memorial ceremonies, which are held together with the Organization of Sosnowiec former residents, there are no special achievements. The main success of this organization is “Pinkas Bendin”.

Now, after four years of separation, a re-unification of all the organizations of the Zagłębie people is being considered.

Bed-391.jpg [29 KB] - The Będzin Émigrés committee in Tel Aviv in 1959
The Będzin Émigrés committee in Tel Aviv in 1959
Standing from right to left:
Menachem Gelband, Jochanan Laudon, Mosze Benjamin Klajman
Moniek Sercarz, Rechil Gutman, Abram Gold

[Page 400]

Lamenting the Souls
of the Many Thousands Beloved Bedzin Martyrs

Mordechai Hampel

Translated by Meir Bulman

Edited by Dr. Rafael Manory

The nation of Israel will remember with a shaken soul, fearful heart, and awe and reverence the pure souls of its sons and daughters who suffered all of hell's tortures at the hands of human beasts. They were exterminated by strange methods of murder; who by slave labor, who by suffocation, who by gas chamber and the crematoria of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, Belzec and all the other places of death and destruction. They were sanctified in rivers of blood and mountains of suffering.

We will remember our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, our children and all of our loved ones who were slaughtered, burned and uprooted by the sons of Satan with vast and cruel force for sins they did not commit, only because they were Jews, the descendants of the prophets of Israel, the immortal nation, pursuers of freedom and justice and lovers of peace and harmony.

We, the people of Bedzin who arrived in the homeland many years ago, before the bloodbath, because of our loving and longing for the land and the enchanting redemption, we, the survivors of the Holocaust, remnants of the horror and extermination, the last lone survivors from whole towns and families, who witnessed the nightmares and the troubles, we, who walked through the valley of the shadow of death and the seven wards of hell, who journeyed and wandered on the coarse paths to Zion, will remember the thousands of slaughtered Jews of Bedzin. We will grieve for our glorious community, which was renowned throughout the diaspora, and then destroyed and uprooted by shameless villains. It was a community made up of generations of rabbis and eminent scholars, wisemen, very active community leaders, and God-fearing men who loved their nation, their land and their culture and language. It bustled with social and cultural liveliness and pioneering Zionism. It was a community of lively, youthful energy and happiness with many youth movements of various shades and strains.

We will remember our heroes in the underground who rebelled, those who did not surrender to shameful lives under the malicious rule, the brave warriors of the ghettos who followed the voice that rose from the depths of their souls, and proudly raised the flag against tyranny, repression and enslavement to defend the honor of the nation. They and strengthened the nation's spirits and encouraged it to stay strong. When the time came, they bravely walked towards death with their heads held high.

We will remember the rebels who suffered pain and humiliation and the disgracing patch on their backs. They knew very well that their war was helpless. They knew they had no chance to prevail in their bitter struggle against tyrannical rule and cruel troops that trampled over lands with their hobnailed boots as they took pleasure in tormenting their victims. They knew that there was no

[Page 401]

speck of hope to win in their war against the devouring beast, but despite everything they did not relent; they lit the torches and raised the flag of rebellion and vengeance, which they held faithfully until the last beats of their hearts. They wrote another glorious page in the saga of bravery and sacrifice, decorated with the glory of those before them.

They were few and stood with their scarce weapons against an armored and armed enemy, but they did not surrender and did not lay out their necks for every rusty butcher's knife. Their hearts longed for redemption and revival, and their souls longed for Eretz Israel, but they never reached it. Their lives commanded us to live, as they knew that our hope does not die until the last Jew dies. They believed strongly that the great and desired day was near, the day when the kingdom of Israel would be declared.

Bedzin, our plundered birth town, robbed and desolate without a Jew remaining in it! You, who were rooted in the soil of Poland whose waters you drank from, ate plentifully of its fruits and sat in its shade, how did you become a trampling and treading ground soaked with your blood and erased from the Earth in the blink of an eye? How did you fall into the hands of the enemy with nobody to help or rescue? How could old folks, children and young men and women be mutilated and crushed, suffocated and turned into ashes as the hard-hearted showed no mercy?

How can we properly mourn you, the destroyed Jewish Bedzin? What expression can reflect your past greatness and glory? No words exist to express the splendor of your unique attributes!

Our pure love for you and our great longing for you, the great Jewish town, will always remain in our hearts! We will remember the feeling of your past days for as long as we live!

We will not stop mourning until the day will come for a great redemption of all of Israel, and children will return to their land and the last exiled Jew will ascend to our homeland.

I wish my head were made of water and my eyes were a fountain of tears,
so that I could cry day and night over the slaughter of the daughter of my people!
(Jeremiah 8:23)

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