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Part II



The Flight to Vienna
at the Outbreak of World War I

Avraham Fisher (New York)

Translated by Theodore Steinberg

The general mobilization for the First World War began in our shtetl on July 31, 1914. It was a Friday, erev Tisha b'Av, because Tisha b'Av then fell on Shabbos and so was put off until Sunday. But the real Tisha b'Av for us was on Friday, soon after signs had been posted and the hated policeman and his drum had announced that the emperor Franz Josef I had ordered a general mobilization throughout Austria-Hungary. All who were deemed eligible for the army were called to their regiments–some to Lemberg (Lvov), some to Prshemishl, and some to Barzon–the next morning, although it was Shabbos, because preserving life takes precedence over Shabbos and “the law of the state is the law”–there is nothing else to say.

In the shtetl there was great lamentation. Mothers and children wailed, wives and brides cried, as did sisters and brothers. That Shabbos in the town was one of great confusion. The whole city was saddened. At the Tisha b'Av lamentations on Sunday, a messenger from the court at Strilk entered the city seeking workers to take grain from the fields; then the Jews, from deep in their hearts, cried out, “How the city sits solitary” [Lamentations 1:1].

Because Galicia had a long border with Russia and because Boiberke was not far from the border, a state of war was declared on August 1, 1914, and soon troops began marching to the Russian border. That was a hot summer, and people stood in the streets with cold water for the soldiers, and people shouted, “Long live Austria!”

Seeing the freshly outfitted army from Steiermark and Upper Austria and their big “gear” in the form of cannon pulled by the huge Tyrolean horses, those politically inclined from the shtetl's beis-medresh, R. Itzik Landau, R. Yosef Fisher, R. Chaim Katz, and others, decided that the war would not last long and Austria would soon triumph. What else? With such an army, with such equipment?

But disappointment was not far behind. On August 25th the withdrawal began. Not only for the army, not only for the huge Tyrolean horses. Bandaged soldiers dragged themselves on foot, and older, worn-out horses dragged the broken cannon.

Soon the wounded soldiers appeared. The school in which the children learned was transformed into a hospital. Soon refugees from Brod appeared, from Zlotchev, and from other border towns. It was painful to see. People regarded themselves as political refugees because fear of the Cossacks and Circassians was so great. Also, terrible stories and rumors circulated about barbaric events in the Jewish shtetls.

The situation worsened daily. People packed up. The military commander took down the Austrian flag. The post office ceased and the village elder had abandoned his seal, so everyone could create an identification card with the elder's seal. Spies were everywhere. A large portion of the Galician population–especially the Ruthenians-were spies, and some of them were arrested as spies and traitors. People could hear from afar the music of the cannon, and it was said that the Russians were already in Prshemishl. And how far was Boiberke from Prshemishl?

On Thursday, August 27th, the Jews packed up their few poor things in the cellars, covered their windows with boards (how foolish!), took their tallis and tefillin and a shirt in one hand and their children with the other hand and set out on the road.

People went on foot because that was the only way. The roads were flooded with soldiers and with those who were fleeing with horses and wagons.

We went by foot to Davidov, via Lemberg. We soon grew tired, so we spent the night there. In the morning we did not know where to go. We met a Gentile with his horse and wagon who said he was going to Boiberke. We decided–let us go back–to travel with him back to Boiberke.

But it was no longer the same town. It was full of fear and trembling. Many people had left, and the rest were in the shul–men, women, and

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children–they cried and clamored and said Psalms, and R. Moyshe Shochet tried to say a “Mi sheberach”–as was appropriate, and a prayer “for the safety of kings” for the emperor Franz Josef I until.

Friday afternoon an officer shot his wounded horse in the street not far from Michel Krater's restaurant; understand that people were saying that the Russians were already in the city.

So the shops were all closed and there was nothing to buy, and the officers allowed the soldiers to break into the shops, which they then emptied.

The Gentiles, our neighbors, festooned their houses with crosses and put their icons in the windows so that their brothers, the Russians, would see that they were not Jews.

On Shabbos morning we again took our tefillin bag and a shirt and left for the train in Liewbowicz–this time through the fields, because the roads were impassable, clogged with soldiers. But we could not take the train. It was crowded with soldiers–a retreat, people said. So we went to Shocherdol through the woods. In Socherdol we found a half of a city, led by Rabbi Benjamin Galler, z”l. It was the Shabbos of the New Moon, so we said “Hallel” and at the home of R. Yehuda Hirsch Shtrom we ate hot cholent that had just come from the oven.

But we could not stay there. With the rabbi's permission we went (on Shabbos) to Hochisk. There, with the permission of the rabbi (because it was a matter of life and death) we hired a wagon to Sztszerc. The older men, the women, and the children sat in the wagon, while the men trotted behind.

In Sztszerc we were divided up to sleep in several places.

At one in the morning there was an alarm. Sztszerc must be abandoned–the Russians were coming. We took our light packs and set out for Komarna. We traveled through the night. Early Sunday morning we arrived at Komarna, but we could not stay there long because there, too, was an alarm that people must leave. Again we hired a horse and wagon and got to the empty city of Rudik. We did not stay there, but we went with the horse and wagon to Sambor. But there, around Sambor, there were ten or fifteen thousand Jews in the fields, because they were not allowed into the city so as not to create a panic.

We came up with an original plan. We went to the guard who was standing by the bridge and we said that we were not planning on staying in Sambor. We only wanted to pass through so that we could get to the Hungarian border. The chief guard gave us a soldier with a drawn bayonet to lead us through the city.

On Monday night (August 31) we arrived at Old Sambor. We took a house there and determined to stay until the end of the war. We were there for no more than ten days, because the Russians also knew about Old Sambor.

Then we met with a little better luck. The local commandant was a certain Dr. Birnboym. He gave us permission to go by train to Hungary, because Austria had taken over the empty trains to Hungary.

One could not say that the train went fast. On the contrary, it was quite slow. We went so slowly that as we were going through a village, we got off the train and bought bread, vegetables, and fruit and still did not lose the train.

After a three-day journey we came to Shanka, a shtetl on the border between Galicia and Hungary in the Carpathian Mountains. But even then we had not concluded our “these are the journeys [of the children of Israel]” (Numbers 33:1). Several times we were forced to recall the biblical “And they journeyed.and they camped (Numbers 33). We journeyed from Shanka, where we said the “Selichos” prayers, and we camped in Ungvar, where we said the Rosh Hashanah prayers. And we journeyed from Ungvar and we camped in Kashu, where we observed Yom Kippur. From Kashu we traveled by train for four days until, on the eve of Succos, we arrived in Vienna.

In Vienna, a committee from the Zionist organization quartered us in the “Red Star” Hotel. They gave us clean underclothes, which we truly needed, and for the first time after six weeks of wandering, we slept in beds.

During the war we had to come to the United States, but to describe that would require a whole other chapter.

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What Brought Me to America

by Shamai Bergwerk

Translated by Regina Russak

As a young boy I went through a very sad experience. I was taking home a calf that my father bought from Moishe Dryer behind the mill. On the way the calf became very stubborn and didn't want to move. It must have been lonesome for it's mother. I was pushing it with all my strength, and it still did not move. While I was pushing the calf, a big dog came along, almost as big as the calf, and attacked me. Not knowing that the dog belonged to the mayor, I took off the rope from the calf's neck and it seems that I hit the dog. Suddenly I hear screaming “catch him”.

I turned around and saw that it was the anti-Semite Mayor Gabrishewski, the doctor from Krakow, who is ordering the dog to attack me. Naturally I let go of the calf, and got away as fast as I could and disappeared where no one could find me (translated - where the black pepper grows, an old Yiddish saying).

Soon the police sergeant came to us, he came to arrest me, but he couldn't find me because I hid myself well. Later, a policeman came and told my mother what Gabrishewski planned to do to me.

My parents went right away to David Hollander, who was at that time, the “Rosh Hakol”, the head of the community, and they told him what was happening. David Hollander immediately called together a meeting of the counsel, which decided if the mayor would punish me by flogging me publicly, the community would bring him to court and demand that he be dismissed from his position as mayor.

The head of the community asked me to come to him and asked me to sacrifice myself for a good and holy cause, so as to get rid of a big anti-Semite and cannibal of Zionists. My parents agreed that I should let myself be arrested, and promised him that I would allow myself to be arrested.

And so it was, the tall policeman came to us and arrested me and I didn't resist, but my father went along until near the mayor's house on the Kozma Street, not far from the pharmacy. The mayor ordered the police sergeant to bring in a fresh branch from a yew tree, with which the mayor beat me quite badly and long, and I sustained many bruises on delicate parts of my body. My father took me immediately to the local doctor who also asked Dr. Roth, and they both agreed that I was quite badly injured.

Shortly after that, my father and I went to Lemberg and we went to the office of the paper, “Tageblatt”. There we met Joel Spiegel who got us in touch with Dr. Zipper and the two decided that it would be better if the trial were conducted by a Christian lawyer, and for that reason they chose the attorney, Breiter, the elected Socialist representative. They also decided that the trail should be in Lemberg, because one cannot depend on a judge in Boiberike, as he might be prejudiced.

The trail was held in Lemberg, but it didn't turn out the way we imagined. The mayor brought a Jew from the town who swore that he saw that my father give me all the bruises and of course we lost the case.

I had no choice but to find a way and make plans to leave town. So where does a Jew run? To America, you understand.

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Boiberkers on the American Scene

by Julius Haber (New York)

Translated by Theodore Steinberg

In the later years of the nineteenth century, many Jews from Central Galicia, including our shtetl of Boiberke, sought to better their economic condition by emigrating to America, or, as it was then called, “the New World.” They heard that in the United States, people who were ambitious could earn a living.

They had good grounds for wanting to leave Boiberke, since Galicia was an agricultural area and very few Jews in those years were involved in agriculture, so they saw that their situation would not improve. It is known that Boiberke was near Lemberg, so if any of the wealthier Jews wanted to buy clothing or other expensive items, in an hour they could be by train in Lemberg, and therefore Boiberke (although there were many villages around it) could not grow. In those years, Lemberg already had a population of more than 160,000, among them 45,000 Jews, and it grew at the expense of the surrounding towns, including Boiberke.

Mostly those who chose to leave Boiberke were those who had some skills, like tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, and the like. Most of them soon began to work and to send money to their families whom they had left in Boiberke. After a while, they bought ship tickets in installments and sent them to their families. The families that had children who could then go to work were especially fortunate. The children helped with their income. Many of the children took classes where they learned English. Thus, they made the New World, the United States, their permanent home.

Far different was it for the more well-off Jews. A minority of them, when they went, did so with the idea that they would earn some money and then return to Boiberke. But most of them, when they returned to Boiberke, went through those funds and then again left the shtetl for America. But they also saw that it would be better for their families to settle in the United States, or, as they said, in the Golden Land.


The First Boiberkers in the United States

Because we have no record book from those days to tell us who were the first Boiberkers to come to America, I decided to look in the main library in New York. Since they have almost everything that was printed in their Yiddish section, I thought that I might find some information about our townsmen in America. I must say that I was not wrong. There came into my hands

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a brochure written in 1898 by Dr. Michael Singer, who was the representative of Dr. Herzl in America. In that brochure I found material that led me to two Boiberkers, Moyshe Shpitzbard, son of Kalman, a member of the town's intelligentsia, and Avraham Fruchter, the son-in-law of Mordechai-Itzik Shteyn. It appears that in March of 1898, the two Boiberkers established the “Yehuda ha-Levi” Zionist union in New York. Since Shpitzbard had already taken a responsible position in the Yarmelovker Bank in the Jewish neighborhood and Fruchter already had a responsible position with the Rockefeller Oil Company, I understood that these two were among the first Boiberkers to come to America. But when, not long ago, I encountered Mendel Bromberg, a childhood friend with whom I went to the Folk School in Boiberke and we spoke about our first countrymen who came to America, he told me that his mother's brother, Itshe Bromberg, got married in 1882 in Rohatin, a shtetl in Galicia not far from Boiberke. He and his wife then went to New York. This leads me to believe that Itshe Bromberg was the first Boiberke to settle in America. Mendel also told me about another uncle, named Yehuda Alvail, or Yida Kokler, who traveled in 1890 from Boiberke to America. After being here for several years, he returned to Boiberke. He hoped that with the bit of money he had saved in New York, he would be able to settle down in the city. Unfortunately he went through that money, and when the Brazilian government sent out a committee seeking skilled men and brought them to Brazil, Yehuda was part of that group. But he could not endure the hot climate of Brazil, so he returned to Boiberke. But conditions there were not good, so he decided again to leave Boiberke, and he settled with his family in London. Several years later, his whole family settled in the United States. In those first years, too, came Eizik Karn and Yudel Geyer, who brought his father Moyshe, who was known as Moyshe Hecker. Between 1890 and 1897, a group of Jews from Boiberke arrived who wanted to preserve their religious ways as they had been in their old home, and they organized an association called the Boiberke “Holy People”. Among its founders were Avraham Paget, Hersh Schneider and his brother David, Shmuel Yosef Pechter, and Shlomo Drezen. After some years, and after the original members had passed away, the surviving members joined up with the large Galician shul on the East Side that was known as “Dukler Magen Avraham.” That shul exists until the present day.


The First Boiberke Association

In 1901, a group of Boiberke landsmen gathered in the home of Nissan Katz, a housepainter, and organized the “Boiberke Association for Aiding the Ill.” Their job was to look after the ill as well as to pay the daily expenses of ailing members. Among its founders were: Yisroel Fibert, Levi Haber, Nissen Katz, Duvid Moyshe Krieg, Hersh Zeiger, Yonah Shteyn, Leon Myerson, and Moyshe Brenner. The last two were also housepainters, but they were active in the Galician neighborhood at that time and helped to found several institutions in the Galician neighborhood. For two decades, Moyshe Brenner was the most active worker in the Boiberker Association. Its first president was Yisroel Fibert, and the first secretary was Levi Haber.

The current officers are Alex Shvartz, Moyshe Paget (president), Hersh Schnitzer (vice-president), Hersh Zeiger (treasurer), and Yosef Kronental (secretary).

In 1891, Chaim Aaron Hoffner arrived from Boiberker. He was known in Boiberke and in the surrounding area as an intellectual. He was the jester at weddings. That was not actually what he wanted to do, but a Jew had to earn a living. When he came to New York, he was soon disappointed, unfortunately, because he realized that the people with whom he had come were not to his liking. After he had been here for several years, he returned to Boiberke. But again, his economic situation did not improve, so after a year or two in the shtetl, he came again to New York, where he devoted himself to teaching Tanach to the older children of his friends. He also wrote in Yiddish and Hebrew. I remember when the Galician “Yiddish Weekly” made a change of directors and Chaim Aaron Haffner became the editor. When I visited the editorial office on Rivington Street one evening, in the Galician corner of New York, I found Haffner writing the lead article for the paper by

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candlelight because there was no money to pay for gas.

In 1895, my older brother Yitzchak-Leib also came to America. Two years later another brother, Shloyme, came; in another year my brother Leyzer and two years later Avrham, and after another two years I myself came from Boiberke to the country that was called “The New World.” So it was also with other families, where one person brought the others.

In 1899 Shmuel Schleider came from Boiberke to America. He was one of the smartest people from Boiberke. He came only for a short time and thought he would return to Boiberke quickly after earning some money. Schleider was the founder and first president of the Zionist organization “Ahavas Tzion” in Boiberke. But before Schleider left America, he visited the missionary houses in the Jewish neighborhood of New York. Whenever he heard a talk or a discussion in these houses, he would refute the lies of the missionaries. In Schleider, the missionaries met someone who could counter them, and they saw that with his questions he turned their arguments to mush and ashes. The result was that he was asked to come no more. When he continued to come, they threw him out. But he gave them a lot of trouble. Schleider was their greatest enemy. He knew how to deal with their lies!

In 1899, Ephraim Messer also came from Boiberke to New York. He was known in the shtetl as Fra'im Boszak. He was known as the best carpenter. His work on household furniture was known in the whole neighborhood of Boiberke. He loved children and he devoted all his energy to making them happy. I remember in 1896, before Purim, he made a huge gragger and in the evening he went around the shtetl with the gragger while we children followed him with great pleasure. When he came to the beis-medresh and when the Megillah reader called out the name “Haman,” Ephraim let the gragger make the proper response. A year later, also on the night of Purim, Ephraim made a pair of stilts, and since he was already a tall person, we children shouted out that he would soon reach the sky.

An interesting Boiberker whom I met in the spring of 1903 in the streets of New York was Moyshe Gottlieb. He was the outstanding citizen of the city, or the shtetl. For many years he was the prezes [the chairman] of the Jewish communal organization. He prayed in the Great City Shul, and people would not start their prayers until he arrived. Due to certain circumstances, he and his son Ortchie, or Arnold, had to leave Boiberke and they never returned.

Moyshe Gottlieb owned a large house in the city, and every Yom Kippur evening, after the fasting, he invited the Boiberke musicians, led by Chaim Gross, or, as he was known, Chaim Klineter, and they played in his house while many of the shtetl's young people stood for hours at the windows and listened to the music.

So there I saw that man, who always went about with his head held high, with his great stature of over six feet, as he walked through the streets of New York's Jewish neighborhood. His head was bowed. And although it was the middle of the week, he had nothing to do with his landsmen, because they were working. He would come to Yozip Raucher in his little shoe workshop, and while Raucher sat on his bench and made shoes, they would talk. But that situation could not last long. Moyshe Gottlieb went to Eretz Yisroel to settle. He brought his wife Rosele from Boiberke and made a home in Jerusalem.

I remember when I visited our shtetl in 1912 I was told that his oldest son Yossl–who was known in the shtetl as being meek and had a hand in opposing the Zionists, or rather the Jewish national movement that was then quite strong in Galicia–particularly in Boiberke–had visited his parents in Jerusalem. When he returned from this visit, he mocked the Zionists: “You would bring us to that country, which is dirty, has no water for its inhabitants, where the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem is much, much worse than the road from Boiberke to Lemberg, and the filthy Turks are in charge. You would have us go there–or not! I and my family will remain here, even if we are governed by the Poles.” He spoke like one of [Moses' twelve] spies.

Yossl “the spy” died under the Nazis in the Boiberke ghetto. His parents fared much better. They lived out their years pleasantly in Eretz Yisroel.

Their youngest daughter lives in Israel. All the others were killed.

One Shabbos afternoon in 1905, I think it was May 30,

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when it is Decoration Day in America, I was in the Jewish neighborhood of New York. I ran into a landsman. As we walked and talked, we came to the house where the Boiberke landsmen had their Shabbos minyan. When I looked at a table where an older Jew sat reciting Psalms, I realized it was Simcha Vassertrager. He used to carry water around to the houses from early morning to late at night, for which he earned a pittance. He embraced me, but worry shown on his face. “What's new by you, Reb Simcha?”–“Everything is fine. I don't lack food or a few cents in my pocket, but I beg God to forgive my sins.”–“What kind of sins do you have? You always worked hard for a few crumbs of bread. When could you have sinned?”–He answered: “Oy, Yoel” and a tear trickled down,” I get my bread from those desecrate Shabbos.” Although he named no one, I knew that he meant his son. In any case, Simcha Vassertrager lived out his years in America, and he lacked neither food nor a few cents to give away. He died an old man. He did far better than he would have in poor Boiberke.

Our first, not long deceased brother Shlomo used to tell that in 1900 we had a yahrzeit on a Shabbos. He came from Brooklyn to New York and ran into Mordechai Hersh, who used to come to Boiberke, especially on winter days, to warm up in our house. He made his small living by driving oxen to and from Boiberke. When my brother met him, he was dressed well, a black suit, a hard black hat, and on his vest hung a golden chain and a watch that he had bought in installments of a dollar a week. He embraced my brother, and when my brother asked him how things were going, he answered, “Brother Shloyme, things are going well, but the food is not like that in Boiberke. The meat isn't really meat and the beer isn't really beer.” Nu, so this was a person who in Boiberke had meat maybe once a week, on Shabbos, and beer he had maybe when someone treated him, while here in America he had what he wanted and more. Anyhow, Mordechai Hersh who in New York dealt in fruit and did not do badly lived out his years in America. Although the food in America did not please him, still he was generous and gave a few cents to the needy.

I also remember among the founders and members of the Boiberke fellowship “Holy People” was R. Avraham Paget, or Reb Avrahamele Paget. He was known among the Boiberkers and other Galitzianers, as the most skillful mohel, and everyone loved him. The landsmen truly loved seeing him going on Shabbos and Yom Tov clothed in a black suit and a high hat. He was such a good prayer leader that for Musaf on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Jews from other shuls in Galicia would come to hear him. He lived out his years with great honor.

I remember that Moyshe Gottlieb left Boiberke and dared not return due to certain circumstances. But he was not the only Moyshe who dared not return because he feared arrest.

Some years earlier, before Moyshe Gottlieb left the shtetl, another Moyshe fled the shtetl. He was also in danger of being arrested. This was Moyshe Yaker, an orphan who was raised by the family of Malkeh Greenblatt. He was a housepainter, very talented. Everyone in the shtetl wanted him to work for them.

Several weeks before Pesach in 1897, the wealthiest woman in town, Rochel Erden, arranged with Moyshe Yaker to paint her rooms. He did so to her satisfaction. Two or three days before Pesach, he ended his work and Mrs. Erden paid him. When he counted it, he was several crowns short of the sum they had agreed to. When he requested the missing funds, Mrs. Erden grew angry and called him some nasty names. Moyshe stood there listening, and since he was holding a can with a little paint and a big brush, he splashed the paint on the newly painted walls and then fled the city. Mrs. Erden screamed and cried because it was Erev Pesach and there were no other good painters in town.

Throughout Pesach people in town talked about the Yaker-Erden incident. I had forgotten about the whole story, but years later when I met Moyshe Yaker in Ratner's restaurant in New York, we recalled the incident and Moyshe Yaker said:

“I worked hard so that the rooms would be nicely painted

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as Mrs. Erden wanted, but when it came time to pay, she gave me three crowns less that we had agreed on. And when I protested, Rochel Erden abused me, calling me bad names, and she threatened that if I didn't leave, she would call the police. That riled me up so much that I splashed paint on the walls of her large room.”

On May 17, 1908, when the great emigration continued and every day ships arrived with fresh, new immigrants from Europe, including some from Boiberke, a group of young Boiberkers gathered in the home of a landsman and founded the “Progressive Boiberke Young Men's Benevolent Society.” Among those gathered there were Rubin Grebel, Julius Engelberg, Duvid Gevanter, Itzik Zuckercandle, Mordechai Helfer and his brother Berish, and several others. The first president was Max Glanzer, and the first financial secretary was Julius Engelberg. The recording secretary was Hertz Fisher, the son of Fra'im the teacher. The current officers are Meir Gimpel, ex-president; Zeynvil Helfer, president; Irving Herbst, secretary and treasurer; and Samuel Bergverk, corresponding secretary; Simcha (or Sam) Herbst and Rubin Grebel, a couple of twenty-year-olds, are among the leaders of the organization.

I was not a member because, as a Zionist, I could not see how young people, from 16-20 years old, could have as their goal to discuss at meetings matters related to cemeteries and burials. I and my cousin and business partner, Leibush Krater, were members of the acknowledged Zionist organization in greater New York, the “Austro-Hungarian Zionists.” We thought it was more advisable for the benefit of a national homeland in Eretz Yisroel than to belong to a group where young men discussed matters of death. But although we were not members, we shared in their joys and sorrows. The truth is that we now see that people have to consider such matters. We also used our closeness to the organization's leaders for the good of the Jewish National Fund and other funds for Eretz Yisroel, which they never refused.

It is interesting that such people were always concerned with organizing societies. The same Nissan Katz who helped organize the Boiberke Society for Supporting the Ill thought to organize the young men formerly from Galicia who had served in the Austrian army. Nissan himself had been a train man in the Austrian army. Another Boiberker who had also served in the Austrian army, Naftali Haber, assisted him. He worked as a carpenter in New York. In a short time they enlisted many members, and in their free time they would gather in a park and drill. They wore military uniforms like those of the Lemberg regiment. Their special day was August 18, the day of Emperor Franz Joseph's birthday. They gathered in the largest Galician shul on the East Side to celebrate the name day. They paraded before the Austrian Consul-General in New York, who made a brief speech. A week or two later, Nissan Katz received from the Austrian ambassador in Washington a thank you note, which made him very proud. The members often boasted that one of their number was an American citizen, and he stood out in their society. The small number of remaining members abandoned their society when war broke out in 1914. It was a wonder that we members of the Zionist union worked for a Jewish state in Eretz Yisroel (and it became difficult to raise funds), and here we were like young people spending money for military uniforms and also for some horses that they used for their drills.

In the summer of 1909–this was two days after the elections for the Austrian parliament–I came to Boiberke and heard that Dr. Gershon Zipper, the candidate of the Jewish National Party, had lost, although in Boiberke itself he had far more votes than his Polish opponent. But since the district leader in Boiberke always had an obligation to the Polish party, he was hostile to the Jews. He showed his anger to my father, who was the gabbai of the city beis-medresh. A day after the election he called my father and berated him for having allowed the beis-medresh to be used to hold a political gathering of the Zionists who worked for Dr. Zipper's candidacy. None of my father's justifications helped, and the district leader threatened to get even. My father, who had the honor of serving as the gabbai of the Boiberke beis-medresh for over thirty years, relinquished that honor and left his home town and settled elsewhere in Galicia, in Barza, where our sister lived.

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In the summer of 1912, when I was at a meeting of the Zionist Action Committee in Berlin, I met Adolf Shtand, a member of the committee, as well as an organizer in the Austrian parliament. When we spoke about important Zionist personalities in Galicia and the name of Dr. Zipper came up, Shtand remarked that Dr. Zipper had recently returned from a visit to Eretz Yisroel, where he met with his friend, the well-known teacher Shloyme Schiller. At Schiller's urging, Dr. Zipper undertook a difficult task, to collect in Galicia 100,000 crowns, or 20,000 dollars, in order to build a university in Jerusalem. (It seems to me that two or three years earlier the Hertzliyah Gymnasium had opened in Tel Aviv, an undertaking of the Russian Zionists. Dr. Zipper had the idea that the Galician Zionists should build a gymnasium in Jerusalem.). When Zipper returned from his visit, he went around to the cities and towns in Galicia and collected funds for the Jerusalem gymnasium. He also visited our town of Boiberke, where people promised a certain sum. Because there were no very rich Zionists in town, they gave a small amount. When I met with him in Lemberg, he showed me the color pictures of the Jewish colonies in Eretz Yisroel, and I gave him a certain sum of money. Then he showed me the list from Boiberke and I promised him that when I returned to America, I would gather the promised sum from young Boiberkers in order to make good what the Zionists in Boiberke had promised.

Shortly thereafter, when I returned, the “Progressive Boiberke Young Men” held a gathering on a Sunday afternoon. The people made good on what had been promised to Dr. Zipper.

Before I returned to America, I heard that a few banks had opened in the town and Jews had profited. This amazed me because Boiberke had no industry and no oil had been discovered there, but people said that a few men with capital could open the banks. Actually, these were young married men who had married into dowries, which did not make me happy. First I discovered that the banks got 12% interest on loans, but in Lemberg the interest was a little less, 8%, and the Lemberg banks discounted that to 6%. Soon the Vienna bank discounted that to 5% in Switzerland. Then I began to understand how in a little place like Boiberke it was possible to open several banks, or, as they were called, “little banklets.” Since it was not legal according to Austrian law to take high interest, I also learned that in Boiberke, one or more of the leading citizens had been arrested. And then it happened that the small banks in Galicia went bankrupt.

I also remember at the same time, early one Shabbos, when Jews began to arrive at shul, a scene occurred that I will never forget. Suddenly a number of wagons stood at the home of a fine old citizen of Boiberke, Berish Leib Krieg. Berish Leib loaned money to the Gentiles in and around Boiberke for pledges of fur coats, boots, and even bedclothes and wagon wheels. Whatever the Gentiles brought, he took and loaned them a few crowns. Just like the Polish functionaries who examined the charging of high interest, they also visited those who advanced money on interest.

I do not think that I am mistaken that the functionaries took everything from Berish Leib, but it was a disaster and a shame that they took it all in the wagons on Shabbos as Jews were leaving shul. About 25 years later, I saw a scene in Jerusalem when the British army sent a large truck with barbed wire to King George Street near the Yeshurun Shul and surrounded a large house where the British officers had a club to ensure that only the English could enter. When I came out of the shul at about 10 in the morning, I saw them take the barbed wire from the truck. I went up to one officer who was overseeing the work and I made him aware that, with their work, on Shabbos, as Jews were returning from shul and seeing the holy Shabbos profaned, they would be very upset. If it had to be done, why not wait a day or two? They could do the same job and no one would care. His answer was what I expected: Duty is duty. He did what the higher officers ordered. In Jerusalem at the time

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of the Mandate, the English behaved as the Poles did in Boiberke.

We Zionists have long seen that as long as someone else rules over a country, it can only be that the ruler gives the orders. Now this cannot happen in Jerusalem. No one, not even the most free, would dare to take over a house, in the middle of the city and opposite a large shul, with barbed wire on Shabbos, and not only in Jerusalem, but this could not happen in other cities in the State of Israel.

In the summer of 1914 I again visited my birth town of Boiberke. When I got ready to leave, that is, to return to America, the First World War broke out. Although I had been an American citizen for five years, I found myself caught like a fly in a collector's display. I, and indeed other foreign citizens, who remained stuck in the small shtetls–could not leave. People regarded us more or less as spies. Every time a Boiberke returned from a business visit to Lemberg, he told how so many Ukrainians, whom people suspected of spying for Russia, had been shot. Almost every day I sent a telegram to the American envoy in Vienna. (Several weeks later, when we had to go to Vienna, I learned that of the approximately 20 telegrams that I had sent from Boiberke, none had been received.). Since I had in the Boiberke leadership a Zionist friend from Lemberg, he told me every day more or less how things were going in the battle not far from Boiberke. And before the Russians arrived in Boiberke, with my friend's help I got to Lemberg. In the first four weeks of the war, when I was in the shtetl, hundreds of horses and wagons with Jewish families traveled through the shtetl. They were simply fleeing their homes, since every day they expected an onslaught of Cossacks, and Jews had great fear of Cossacks. Over all they feared the leaders of the Russian army, led by the czar's uncle, Nikolai Nikolaievitch. When in the middle of September, that is, six or seven weeks after the outbreak of the war, I arrived back in America, we saw that the war must end at some point and the various landsmanshaftn in America must give financial aid to rebuild what the war had destroyed.

Some months before the United States entered the First World War in April of 1917, a group of wealthy Boiberke landsmen assembled to discuss how to help our prominent landsman Chaim Aharon Hafner. He was known as a Hebraist and from time to time he wrote in Yiddish and Hebrew. On the advice of a colleague, also a Yiddish and Hebrew writer, Yosef Margoshes, it was decided that the greatest honor for him would be to establish a society in his name.

The first president of the “Chaim Aharon Hafner Society” was Yisroel Greenblatt, and the secretary was Levi Haber. Among the members were the following Boiberkers: Michal Halver, Yitzchak Leib Haber, Ovadiah Panzer and his younger brother Chana, Bezalel Sheles. Yehoshua Herbst, Avramtshi Shtiker, Simcha Baer, Avraham Zlotkes, Moyshe Fisher and his boy Mendele and his brothers Avramtshi, and Piinchas, and also Yosef Margoshes, although he was not from Boiberke.

The first meetings were held in private homes, and later people would gather on every Shabbos evening at the wine-and-mead hall of Kalman Rosenblatt. These were very intellectual meetings. People discussed interesting controversies on biblical and historical topics. It became known that in the Galician section of New York, the “Aharon Haffner Society” was unique. When the landsmen gathered comfortably on a Shabbos evening, they first played cards until morning, but the Aharon Hafner Society was an exception. It is a shame that people age and that older men depart from this world. So, with time, most of the members died and no one of their caliber came along. Only a few members now remain. What holds them together is the cemetery, and even that will not last.

The discussions went like this: Hafner posed a question and the Boiberke landsman Ovadiah Panzer gave a response, and other times Panzer posed a question and Chaim Aharon Hafner responded. Actually, people spent much time retelling anecdotes, which themselves were quite interesting. It is also interesting that Panzer, who was a printer and worked in a big city in Galicia, came to Boiberke for Purim in order to gather a group of youngsters to put on a Purim play [Yosef-shpiel]. He. Played the role of Yosef and his younger brother Chana played the role of Binyamin.

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On Purim night they went from house to house in Boiberke and performed their play. We little ones, a whole company, followed him and enjoyed the play. Thus it went, more or less, in other towns.

At the time when the “Aharon Hafner Society” was founded, the Boiberke Women's Support Society already existed in New York. Actually it had existed since 1905, but in 1917 it played a large role. It had over ninety members, and according to the register of the New York community, they were quite active. Their president was then Y. Esner and secretary K. Harris. Among the active members was Mrs. Chanah Shpitzbard-Chapman.

A year later, in 1818 [sic], when the cannon exploded in fire in the Great World War, more landsmen from Boiberke came together and founded the Boiberke Relief, or Aid, Society to help our birth city.

Here I will cite the words of Dr. Ringel, one day in 1914, when the war was fully underway. When his committee in Lemberg gave me two letters to the Jewish and Zionist leaders in America: “The war must come to an end in a year or two, and the Jewish of Europe, especially the Jews from Russia, Poland, and Galicia, will look to you Jews in America for help in rebuilding Jewish institutions that have been destroyed in the war. And we must not forget our Eretz Yisroel” (and time showed that he was right). “And you Jews in America must be prepared for that day.” Many landsmanshaftn in America felt the same way. We Boiberkers had our landsman Julius Engelberg in Boiberke much sooner than other towns. As soon as the war ended, Engelberg traveled officially to Europe and he visited Boiberke.

Engelberg found in Boiberke indescribable poverty. The mud puddles were so large and deep that he lost his galoshes. The poorhouse where people from the city lived was in such bad shape that it was not even suitable for animals. As soon as he returned and gave us a report, we sent them money; and we put on a theatrical performance where we earned $5000, so when two Boiberkers traveled to the city, we gave them the $5000. When they got to Vienna, they met Hersh Gross, who made them aware that there was in Vienna a large group of pioneers [to Israel] from Boiberke, because they did not have enough money to get to Trieste. (From there they had tickets to Israel.). And on the advice of Hersh Gross, they proposed to give a small sum so that the pioneers would soon be able to go from Vienna to Trieste. That this was advisable we can see now, when some of them remained in Israel and helped in the hard work that led to the proclamation of the State of Israel.

Some years later we first saw the good that our envoys from America had done in making it possible for our young pioneers to travel from Vienna to Eretz Yisroel.

Today we can see that our prominent Boiberkers hold important positions in the State of Israel.

Michal Sheyn, or, as he is known now, Professore Zohari has been a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for many years and is a member of the Israel Academy; Feivel Schleider, or Dr. Shraga Klay, is one of the top leaders of the school system in the State of Israel. Lonik, or Aryeh, Alvail is a recognized artist. Moshe Vind heads “Yad v'Shem” in Jerusalem. Avraham Zuck has for thirty years been one of the directors of the city library in Tel Aviv. Chaim Zohari was for over 25 years a teacher in Jerusalem school. Berl (Dov) Becker, a member of Kibbutz Ramat-Yochanan, is a specialist in sheep breeding. He has written books on the subject. His younger brother, Aryeh (Leib) is a member of Kibbutz Mishmar ha-Emek. Pesach (Peishi) Molcho-Kremer for more than 25 years has headed the Rothenberg Electric Company. Mordechai (Motik) Galler is one of the leaders of Aaronson Export. And we dare not forget Moyshe-Leib Zuck, z”l, one of the founders of Kibbutz Beis-Alpha. And actually there were more from the first group of pioneers. May their hands be strengthened and blessed.

From Vienna, the two American envoys, Berish Helfer and Shloyme Haber, proceeded to Boiberke, since they helped to found the Relief, or Aid, Society to make sure that the funds that the committee had raised, and what would come in the future from America, should be spent properly.

Here we must praise our landsman Hersh Gross, who had persuaded the envoys to help the pioneers. Hersh, as we have seen from his stories, followed in the tradition of his father and grandfather. We remember how his grandfather and then his father, Chaim Gross, would go around every Shabbos in Boiberke with a sack, going from door to door and

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collecting bread for the shtetl's poor. His father was a musician, a clarinetist, and his father played a small bass and cymbals. Hersh modernized it. I remember that when he came to America, he started the Boiberke Band, and his remaining time he devoted to writing letters, responses to poor agunot, whose husbands had left and not gotten back in touch. Hersh Gross assumed the duty of seeking out those men, and with this tactic he succeeded in bringing couples back together, and in some cases he helped the wife and children come to America. This led to peace in the family.

Sadly, Hersh himself had no luck in his own family life, and he died young. We, his closest landsmen, mourned him. May he rest peacefully.

The Boiberke Relief (Aid) Committee in the United States had the goal of raising money for the needy of the shtetl. For Pesach, we sent matzos and for the Days of Awe some money so that the poor could buy a little wood or coal for the winter. At least this was our wish. But sadly it was not always carried out by the committee in the shtetl. We soon began to receive accusations that the committee in Boiberke was party-driven and made other uses of the money. When the accusations increased, the members of our committee in America became worried. In particular, as I recall, our landsman Sam, or Simcha, Herbst suffered because some of the accusations came to his address. He was the secretary and treasurer of the “Progressive Boiberke Young Men” in New York and his address was known to Boiberkers.

And when Simcha Herbst paid a visit to Boiberke, he requested details of what was going on. He also asked that individual be cited so that no one should be insulted. When he returned from his visit, they advised him that the money should be sent directly to those in need in the shtetl.

When the Relief was turned over to the women from Boiberke in America, they chose officers:

President: Lena Gross-Toirkel
Vice-President: Lena Baumgarten
Financial Secretary: Feigele Zwerben
Recording Secretary: Ray Pageto-Harnick
Two Treasurers: Channah Paget Rabinovitch and Chaya Eisenshteyn

Also at the meeting was Henya Katz-Lusthoiz, Jane Matta-Philips, Channah Shpitzbard-Chapman, and two other sisters from the Paget family and Chaya Eisenshteyn's sister.

The Aid Committee for Boiberkers was active until the outbreak of the Second World War in September of 1939. All communication with Boiberke ended then. A year or two later, our secretary Zwerben received letters from Boiberkers who had the luck to escape to other countries, and they immediately sent money meant to obtain packages of food. When the war ended, we received appeals from Boiberkers seeking rescue. The committee did its best in those circumstances.

When I went to the 21st Zionist Congress in Basel, in November of 1946, the committee sent $500 with me to help any landsmen I might meet in Europe or in the camps in Germany, where I did not want to set foot, in Eretz Yisroel or on the island of Cyprus. At the Congress in Basel I met scores of young men who had been rescued from Hitler's murderers, but, sadly, I did not meet a single person from Boiberke or its region.

Among the young pioneers who served as aides at the Congress, there were several from the “Cino-Cito” camp near Rome in Italy. Since my sister's daughter had come to the same camp several months earlier, they told me that she and her children had left the camp and were now in a camp on Cyprus, where they had been sent by the British army in Palestine after they had tried to enter the country on the ship “Bracha Fuld.” They begged me to visit the camp near Rome. I could not, because I had planned to go to Israel and from there to go to Cyprus where perhaps I could help my family members. Eighteen months later, when the State of Israel was declared and my son-in-law Dov Pelelg was wounded, on July 1, 1948, I was on my way to Israel and I went to Rome. From there, all flights were suspended because of the war of the Arab countries against Israel, so I had a bit of time in Rome, from Sunday until Friday. I went to “Cino-Cito,” where I met

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more than a thousand Jewish men and women who wanted to go to Israel.

From the Zionist Congress we traveled on Wednesday, December 25, 1946 early in the morning to France. Since we had to wait for a week on the ship that would take us to Israel, and the weather was cold and awful, we waited in the warm city of Nice.

I searched for Boiberkers wherever I went. But in Nice, the gabbai of the Ashkenazic shul told me that on Shabbos afternoon he would make an announcement in the shul and see if anyone would respond. On Sunday morning, a tall man came to my hotel. It appeared that he had once been a fine-looking person. He said that he was born in Boiberke and was a grandson of Chatzkel Millet, who had dealt in cattle and had a son named Shmuel, a brush maker, who was with his family in New York. After I gave him $25 (which is what he requested), he told me the following interesting story about how he came to be in Nice.

He lived with his parents in Vinik, not far from Lemberg. When he heard that a French commission was coming to Poland seeking coalminers for France, and he, a healthy man, was aimless in the shtetl, he decided to join the group of Christians and he went to France. But since the work was so difficult, he sought an opportunity to better his situation. As I already said, he was a nice, tall man. He was loved by a French woman from the monarchist circle. Thus he had a chance to improve his situation, and he became involved in the small monarchist circle. Once he was even put up as a candidate against Leon Blum, who was known as the prime minister of France. But when the Nazis came to France, our landsman Millet escaped to the area of Nice, where he hid and where he came down with rheumatism and, as I saw, one of his hands became paralyzed. I became very interested in this person, and he said that he would send me some cuttings from newspapers from that time when he was doing well. Sadly, I never heard from him again.

On January 1, 1947, we went from France to Haifa. When we arrived in Eretz Yisroel, I spent the next two weeks trying to get a grant from the British army to go to Cyprus. Since I spent all of my time in Jerusalem, I tried to find our prominent Boiberke landsman Feyvel Schleider, now known as Dr. Shraga P. Klay, who was a famous mathematics and physics teacher in the Hebrew gymnasium in Jerusalem and director of the Hebrew teachers in Jerusalem. I communicated to him that I had brought money for Boiberkers in need. He told me that he did not know anyone in Jerusalem who needed support, but he knew of one case in Tel Aviv. He would tell me who that was when he received permission from the woman, who cared for her grandchildren because her daughter had to work. Her husband had fallen in battle. Her response was not only that she would not take money, but she would not give her name. Dr. Klay asked me that when I was with my niece in Haifa, would I then see a rabbi who had been a rabbi in Boiberke and who had a large family. Would I give him $50?

I waited in Jerusalem for my visa to Cyprus. I received permission to travel after my Zionist friend from America, Charlie Passman, had intervened with his friend, who had worked for over fifteen years for the government, that is, for the English army, in the visa bureau. I received the visa early one Sunday morning, and the next morning I left Haifa. In less than an hour and a half I arrived in Cyprus. But while I was waiting in Jerusalem along with Boiberke landsman Moshe Vind, I visited a woman who had just arrived from Boiberke, where she and her daughter had been hidden by a friendly Christian the whole time the Nazis had been in the city. The wife of Shmuel Zigler, who had children in Jerusalem who became angry. They needed protection, and they received travel permission for their mother from the English army.

When I met with Mrs. Zigler (whose husband had been a lumber merchant in Boiberke), I first asked after my family in Boiberke, after my niece Peshi and her family. We had already heard that she was killed by the Nazis in the Boiberke ghetto. I will never forget what Mrs. Zigler told me that Shabbos morning in Jerusalem. One day the Christian (who was hiding her) came home from the city and told her that he had gone by a terrible scene where in the market they had dragged my niece's 15-year-old son. He had cried out, “I will still live.” Those who dragged him were the Jews whom the Nazis had

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ordered to bring out Jews to be killed. He had been locked in a cell, but during the night he had broken out and escaped. But he could not get far before he was recaptured and killed in the Boiberke ghetto.

Mrs. Zigler also had a victim, her husband Shmuel, who was also hidden by a friendly Christian, who was well paid. One day Shmuel went to his own home in the city to get warm clothing and a featherbed. On the way he was shot by the Nazis. Everyone had lost victims to the bandits.

Before I left Jerusalem at the end of February, 1947, I again met with my friend Klay. He told me he was sure there were other Boiberkers in Eretz Yisroel who could use some support. But I had already seen that they were too proud to take money, even if it came from their landsmen. Twelve years later this was repeated when our landsmen created a charity fund for Boiberkers in Israel.

So it was on the island of Cyprus that I visited in January of 1947, where I met my niece and her children. (Already at that point in the camp there were over 8,000 of our brothers and sisters who had been taken from ships by the British and sent there.). There were not Boiberke landsmen in the camp. Later there were, as we well know, in the next fifteen months, about 35,000 who had been taken off ships by the British and were sent there until the State of Israel was declared.

How strict the British were, especially in those first months, we can see from their not having permitted the Jewish Agency to have representatives in the camp. The Gency operated through the Joint [Distribution Committee]. The first Jewish officials whom I met in the Cyprus camp, although they were from the Jewish Agency, could only operate as representatives, as I have said, of the American Joint.

When I returned from my trip to the island, I gave the Boiberke Relief Committee a longer report, and I returned $425, explaining that since no Jews remained in Boiberke (the city that had existed since 1469 was now “Jew-free”)–it was not advisable to provide relief, because maintaining it meant calling a meeting and paying for a hall. Some months later we disbanded the small but active society that had done so much for the city in the course of 30 years. The money that remained in the bank was given to the United Jewish Appeal. Before we did so, some new arrivals from the city argued that we should give them some of the remaining funds. But some of us said that almost all of the new arrivals had family who had helped them come to America and that the funds we had gathered were intended for Boiberkers in the shtetl or in the camps or who had been sent deep into Russia. But since we had not heard from them, we thought we should do as we first intended. After everything, the Jewish Agency, or the other organizations, brought over the Boiberkers who several years later came to Israel with the money from the United Jewish Relief or the Aid Committee.

The last officers of the Boiberke Aid Committee in America were the following:

President–Chana Paget Rabinovitch
Vice-President–Henya Katz-Lusthoyz, Ray Paget-Harnick, Mrs. Kugel
Treasurer–Avraham Haber
Secretary–Feygele Zweben

Among the Boiberke women who were active in the Aid Committee were the wife of Julius Katz, the wife of Shmuel, or Shamalea Bergverk, Clara Helfer, Ladia Herbst, Dora Paget, Adele Gross, and several others.

In life one meets people who give tzedakah–secret gifts–so that people first hear of the good deeds after the person's death and when one hears of them from a reliable source. Only then can one evaluate them. Such was the case when my cousin Julius, or Yudl, Marcus left this world and the reverend, his long-time friend, gave an account of the good deeds that Julius did in his lifetime. He related that Julius, who was in the milk business in New York (especially in the Jewish neighborhoods) would take bottles of milk and leave them by the doors of poor rabbis who needed it for their children, and who were too poor to buy enough for their children. I heard this for the first time, and for many of those present it was quite important. This reminded me about Julius, on his visit to Israel, in the

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summer of 1935. He came with his younger brother Shimon and their friend Morris Walter. Since I was already in Eretz Yisroel, I got a taxi for us, and a week before Rosh Hashanah, one Thursday afternoon, we came to the “Beis Aleph Kibbutz,” where we hoped to meet a fellow townsman Berl (Dov) Becker. When we asked one of the pioneers about Berl, she responded, “You see the house with the open door, with the red blanket. Berl should be there.” We found the red blanket, but not Berl. We went to the secretary of the kibbutz, also a Galician landsman, Zvi Neumann, either from Stanislaw or Tlumacz. At first he sent us to the dining hall and we had a bite to eat, and then he showed us the direction toward Mt. Gilboa, and he said that Berl was there, by the mountains, with sheep. We left the car at the kibbutz and went off to meet our landsman.

Shimon and his friend Walter went first, and Yudl, or Julius, went with me. When we got near the mountain, Yudl remembered what he had learned 25 years earlier from Ephraim Fisher, or Fra'im the teacher in Boiberke. He was the only teacher in Boiberke who learned with his students a verse of Torah or Prophets. Julius learned the Prophets in Yiddish, and since he had a good memory, he began to recite the lament of King David for his friend, who was killed by the Philistines:

“Your splendor, O Israel, has been slain in the heights.

How the mighty have fallen!
Do not tell it in Gath,
Do not announce it in the streets of Ashkelon,
So that the daughters of Philistia will not rejoice,
So that the daughters of the uncircumcised shall not have pleasure.
You mountains of Gilboa,
May there be no dew or rain upon you,
No growing fields!
For there was blemished the shield of the hero,
The shield of Saul, unanointed.
From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty
Jonathan's bow did not turn back
And the sword of Saul did not come back empty.
Saul and Jonathan,
The deeply beloved in their lives,
Even in their deaths they were not divided.
They were faster than eagles,
And stronger than lions.
You daughters of Israel, weep for Saul,
Who dressed you in red, with other delights,
Who put jewelry of gold on your garment.
How the mighty have fallen in battle–
Jonathan killed on your heights!
I grieve for you, my brother Jonathan,
For I loved you very much.
Your love for me was wonderful,
More than the love of women.
How the mighty have fallen
And the weapons of war been destroyed!”

[2 Samuel 1:17-27]

At Mt. Gilboa we indeed met our landsman Berl Becker, and in our conversation we learned that Berl was working on his first book on sheep breeding. Today Berl has to his credit books about breeding sheep that are known throughout the country and are used as manuals for people who want to learn about breeding sheep in the State of Israel.

From Kibbutz Beis Aleph we went to Tiberias to spend the night. We wanted to visit the most distant part of the country, the colony of Metulla, and then to return on that Friday night to Haifa for Shabbos. Early in the morning, while it was still dark, we set off, but Yudl and Shimon wanted to see the grave of Rabbi Meir Baal ha-Nes in Tiberias, so we went to the building and wanted to look in. We opened the door a bit. We crowded in and lit a match. There was a large copper pot of oil, with little lamps swimming in it. We lit the wicks and Yudl asked us to empty our pockets of change and put it in the copper pot. We let the lights burn and we stayed a long time in the building. We looked around and saw no other living person. We assumed that when the sexton would later open the building and see the lights and so much change, he would think that during the night a great miracle had occurred, that Elijah the Prophet had come.

Late in the afternoon we returned to Haifa, and when we got to the Re'ali Shul, where my children studied, we prayed. The biggest surprise there came when Yudl and his brother Shimon met their teacher who had taught them in the Boiberke Folk School, Meir Dingott. He was also known as Meir Carol.

We spent a pleasant evening in the company of

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Meir Dingott. He told us that his entire way of life had changed since he was in Eretz Yisroel. Truly, in Boiberke he never considered the Jewish nationalistic movement, because the Poles ruled in Galicia and had a governor over the Austrian province of Galicia. Meir, like others, did not want, or did not dare, to be associated with the Jewish nationalists. It simply seemed that there would be no chance of advancing in his career. At least that is what he said.

When the First World War broke out, Dingott was a teacher in the Boiberke Folk School. Later he was taken into the Austrian army. He was captured by the Russians, and when the war ended, he found himself in Harbin, Manchuria. At first Meir Dingott hoped to return to the Boiberke Folk School, but when Poland became a Soviet state, he decided to go to America. He applied to a landsman in New York, Benny Zemel, a well-known activist, especially in the Galician community, and while he awaited an answer from Mr. Zemel, he learned English. When he finally received money from New York for a ticket and his travel papers, he suddenly decided to go to Eretz Yisroel. This, I think, was after the Balfour Declaration, and also the news had reported that England would assume the mandate over Palestine. This had changed his mind.

When he got to Haifa, the director of the Re'al School, Dr. Biram, hired him as a teacher of English. In time, Dingott and his wife threw themselves into efforts to improve the Jewish institutions in Haifa. Later, when Dingott received his doctorate, he became very observant. He produced an inheritance for the Jewish state, an only son, who is a well-known and active medical doctor and is an honor for his country.

When we dissolved the Boiberke Relief (Aid) Committee, we little thought that in later years we would have to consider aid for our townsmen who finally came to the State of Israel.

In 1958, when we came to Israel to take part in the celebration of the state's tenth anniversary, and also to visit our children, a landsman, Uri Kruvi (Kroythammer), came to me and told me that some time ago a Boiberker came from Russia, the son of Shmuel Yosip, the sexton, and townsmen gave him a horse and wagon with which to earn a living. Now the horse had died and he needed 600 pounds for a new horse. We quickly decided that I would advance him 300 pounds and townsmen in Israel would give the other 300. Some days later, two Boiberke landsmen from America arrived, Avraham Fisher and Hersh Tzuch, and they gave me their share.

Some weeks later a score of other townsmen who live in Haifa met with me for several pleasant hours. They told me that they had planned a charity fund for townsmen who needed loans.

A year later when I came to Israel in connection with the publication of my English book in Hebrew, I was made aware that these townsmen had indeed established such a fund with their own limited means. In recent years, many landsmen have started such funds, but their initial funds came from landsmen in America. But the Boiberkers never looked for help from America. They started the fund with their own resources. I also heard that the fund was already depleted. In May of 1960, when we came to Ra'anana for the opening of Avraham Fisher's cultural center, we found a full house. Townsmen came together from throughout the country. There Fisher gave 250 pounds and I humbly gave 250 pounds as a gift in honor of his brother Shlomo and Avraham and 200 copies of my Hebrew book. The books were sent to townsmen in Israel, and occasionally our landsmen sent money for the book to the charity fund. On May 17, 1960, I, my brother Avraham, and our wives were present. We spent several pleasant hours with our townsmen.

We thought about the work of the committee in Israel, and on the spot Fisher and I said that the charity fund should be put in a stable condition. When we returned to America, we contacted several townsmen. My cousin Shimon Marcus played a large role, as did Samuel Bergverk. We called a meeting for September 1, 1960, but, sadly, few townsmen attended even though we had put prominent notices in the Jewish press and also on the Yiddish Hour on the radio . But we did collect $1525.

[Page 154]

This encouraged us to continue working for the benefit of the charity fund.

At the meeting, we organized and selected officers, with Shimon Marcus as treasurer. Then we announced that the committee was only temporary. As soon as we established the fund on a firm basis and also put out the Yizkor Book, we would disband, because maintaining an organization costs time and money. I did not want to take on the position of chair until Avraham Fisher and Shimon Marcus promised to take on the duty of remembering the Yahrzeits and other gatherings throughout the year. We were unanimous that no dollar that we collected should be spent on refreshments. Every single dollar must be sent to the committee in Israel.

When Shimon Marcus went on a visit to Israel in October of 1960, he gave the committee in Tel Aviv $2000, which means we were responsible for $475, which was given on November 6, 1960, when we had our second meeting, where Marcus reported on his journey to Israel. Actually we collected $4490, which left $415 in our account.

On April 30, 1960, we held a Yahrzeit and there collected $895, so we now had $1000. Several days later, when I met with Uri Kruvi, he told me they had set aside a certain sum for the Yizkor Book. Shortly after, I heard that the Israeli pound might be devalued, and I proposed that the money in the bank should be invested in funds tied to the American dollar. We learned that we needed a little more money for this transaction. I laid out $450 for the committee in Israel. This was recompensed by the $350 that Fisher paid for the 100 copies of the book. The year before, I had given the committee 200 copies as a gift. Since the committee had sent 100 copies to landsmen in Israel, 100 copies remained, which Fisher gave to graduates in Ra'anana, paying $350. The other $4100 was repaid on March 25, 1902 [sic–1962]. Then, at the Yahrzeit, we collected $1060. But on April 15, the committee in Israel received only $960, which is what it required.

Since Moshe and Avraham Fisher in 1960 gave as a gift to the Folk School in Ra'anana 350 books so the graduates would receive a gift at their graduation, another 100 copies were added to the 350 for the same purpose.

When we returned from Israel at the beginning of June, 1962, we called a meeting, because we thought that if the Boiberke Society heard about the charity fund in Israel, they would donate more. Sadly, nothing came of this.

We called a meeting for the fourth of November. Few people showed up and we collected nothing. But over the next few days, Fisher and I visited several townspeople who could afford to give. Actually I thought when my English book was published that I would send copies to more affluent townsmen with a note that these were gifts. If they wanted to contribute, they could send money to Prof. Michael Zohari in Jerusalem for the charity fund. Sadly, only one, Messer from Cincinnati, sent $100. We found that those whom we visited in their businesses gave, some more and some less, and when Fisher left on December 10 for Israel, he took along $955. With that, our little committee decided to close up shop. Since the fund in Israel had about 8,000 pounds, they would have to operate with that amount. From then on, we would set aside every dollar in Israel for the Yizkor Book. We hoped to collect enough money that the book would appear by November, 1963.

I believe that the committee in Israel would understand that we could not maintain that committee that we had established on September 1, 1960. First, there were only three of us who could spare the time. Also, our secretary, Bergverk, could spare only a little time because he was a busy man. Now Fisher was going to settle in Ra'anana, and Marcus, with a new business, also had no time. I myself had to withdraw because by myself I could not operate properly.

In conclusion, I will note that the name “Boiberke,” which existed as a city since 1469, has, for the last sixty years, been a source of laughter. As is well known, the great master of Yiddish literature, Sholem Aleichem, portrays Boiberke as “Kasrilovke” or “Yehupitz.”

[Page 155]

Even the Yiddish Sholem Aleichem School in New York, when they started a summer camp, called it Camp Boiberik. Only several years ago we realized we must insist that Boiberke was a city and was four miles (30 kilometers [sic]) from Lemberg and 7 kilometers from the railroad. In less than an hour one could go from Boiberke to Lemberg. When my book, “The Odyssey of an American Zionist,” was written (and the book begins in Boiberke), I noted that it was a city not far from Lemberg, the capital of Galicia which was, until the First World War, a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

This chapter, Boiberkers on the American Scene, which was entrusted to me, I wrote in little bits that I collected here and there. If anyone has been omitted or misnamed, I am not guilty. Before I finished, I put out part of the manuscript at our November, 1962, meeting, especially parts involving names. I asked if our landsmen found anything wrong with the names or any other imperfections in the manuscript they should tell me and they would be corrected. No one found any flaws. Let us hope that everything is correct.

I want to thank our landsman R. Hersh Zeiger, a man of near 80. He is one of the few who remembers Boiberkers in America and helped me a great deal.

[Page 156]

A Yiddish Song from the Past

Translated by Theodore Steinberg

Here are the Four Questions sung by Russian Jews who fled from Russia at the time of the Russo-Japanese War, in 1904. About two hundred young people came to Boiberke. Some of them went to private homes and some came to the beis-medresh, where they were given food and were taken care of (Avraham'che Fisher).


On the first night of Pesach at the seder,
When every Jew sits there happy and free,
Every corner of the room sparkles,
And everything looks like new.


The Jew sits there full of joy,
With his little boy at his side.
The child himself is not idle–
He opens his mouth and says,
“Papa, I will ask you four questions.


“We are all God's children.
We're all here at the seder.
The world looks so beautiful,
And we have questions for you.


“Why do all people have it so good,
And we Jews, the holy people, God makes to suffer?
So we all ask you questions,
We ask, dear God, ‘Ma nishtana.’


“Our forefather Avraham you stamped with a seal
That Jew should suffer exile in Egypt.
For Pharaoh they toiled with lime and with bricks
For two hundred ten years.


“They suffered exile in Babylon,
And no one helped them.
Many of our elders died off
Before they could return to their holy land.


“But our current exile
Has lasted for thousands of years,
And we Jews are hated and despised.
Wherever Jews are, they are
Plundered and tormented.


“The youngest Christians hate the Jews,
Who are plundered and beaten.
So we all have questions,
We ask, dear God, ‘Ma nishtana.’


“Let us see in a Russian village
How many Gentiles are there,
Each with sheep and cattle,
And also a poor Jew lives there.


“He has no sheep or cattle.
A room full of children he has.
Suddenly he gets an order
That he must leave in two or three days–
There can be no appeal or repeal.


“His wife with their five little children
Hears the bitter complaint.
They, the smallest people, are envied–
Why not drive out Maxim or Ivan?
We ask, dear God, ‘Ma nishtana.’


“When a Jew falls into a Gentile's hands,
He must serve the thief for five years…

(left unfinished…we do not know the conclusion)


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