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[Pages 233-238]

The Trumpeldor Youth Alliance (Betar) in Częstochowa

Z. K.

The 1929 [Arab] riots [in Palestine] shocked the youth of Częstochowa. The antisemitic tradition in our city had always been a shield against illusions of assimilation on the one hand, and against the promises of the Socialist movements on the other. In 1929, the nationalist life of Częstochowa Jewry was in decline. Although the Zionist Union did operate, much of the youth did not feel fulfilled through their activities. The news that came from the Land of Israel astounded the Jews and the youth, in particular suffered. A lack of action and a feeling of powerlessness created a fierce desire for activity and liberation.

Against this background, a small youth group was formed, headed by Perec Lasker, a student at the Hebrew high school. It operated within the framework of the Betar movement. Only after a few weeks, when another group was added, work began with full vigour. The main activities were carried out under the management of Józef Gliksman (Gil–Am), Mojsze Zalcer, Zvi Krak and Jakob Kolin.

The human configuration of Betar–Częstochowa was very typical to the entire movement. The student youth combined with the working youth extraordinarily well. The secular youth respected the religious youth and a favourable amalgamation for cooperation, with understanding, was created.

Also, in the following ten years, Betar's activity continued in full harmony with all the youth factions. At the beginning, the meetings were held at the Zionist movement's club but, when the framework widened, in 1930, Betar moved to a club of its own (on on Aleja Wolności). The main activities were concentrated in two areas – cultural and sports–defence. Cultural activities, during all those years, from the day Betar was founded and until the Second World War, took the form of intensive study of knowledge of the Land [of Israel], the Hebrew language, demography, history of the Jewish people and Zionism and, above all, the ideology of Betar, in all its facets.

Over the course of the years, a rich library in three languages was also established, directed by Pinkus Wajnsztok. A mimeographed newsletter was also issued. A drama group produced plays over a number of years. As an extension of the broad cultural activities, organisational activities also held an important place. In the early 1930's, Betar excelled in its activities for Keren Kayemeth and, throughout all the years, vigorous activities were conducted for the Tel–Chai fund. Other undertakings should be mentioned, including the signing of multitudes of Jews of the petition regarding the opening of the gates to the Land of Israel. Cells were organised in the vicinity too – in Mstów, under leadership of Józef Szydlowski (Shilo) – in Kłobuck, led by Wajchman – in Raków, led by Zvi Chaim Win. A cell was also established in the town Krzepice etc. With the expansion of Nazism, systematic boycott operations were conducted against the import of goods and films from Germany.

Defensive sport started out in the form of movement, with stick–fighting. However, over the course of time, it developed to such an extent, that in Betar there were P.S.W [?] military training groups (similar to Gadna [Israeli youth battalions]) and the “Barak Joselewicz” legion. The Betar [trainees] knew how to use guns well. At first, individuals fit for this purpose were sent to instructors' courses, directed by Jeremiasz Halpern (among the first graduates was Abram Józefowicz – Yosfi, one of the first pilots in the Land of Israel).

Also, district training courses for instructors were held in Zurek, [and] courses for sergeants and summer camps, of a military character, in the Beskidy and Pradła mountains. Groups and individuals were sent for training to Kłosow, Wodzisław, Kozienice and to the military–agricultural school in Bodzentyn. The routine activities were sometimes enlivened by an event capable of invigorating the youth for a long period. Among these events should be mentioned Ze'ev Jabotinsky's two visits and the visits of Dr Ze'ev [Wolfgang von] Weisl and Menachem Begin.

In 1932, the Revisionist movement in the city won the most votes for the Zionist Congress. In a decisive manner, this was a result of the activity of Betar youth in Częstochowa.

The dedication of the flag, which was celebrated with great pomp in 1933, left a deep impression not only on the local Betar, which by then already numbered about 300 members, but also on the entire city, and became one of the greatest events for the Jews of Częstochowa in the pre–Second World War years. Community leaders, the Chief Rabbi, the representatives of all the Zionist parties and the representatives of the government and army took part in the ceremony. The youth's enthusiasm, on the one hand, and the increase in antisemitism in Poland on the other, invigorated the adults and the elderly to also organise under Revisionism. The Ha'Tzohar movement was thus formed, initially headed by Eliasz Ickowicz and, later, under the energetic leadership of Szmul Nemirowski.


The inauguration of the Betar cell's flag (in 1933)
– carrying the flag is the commander Mojsze Zalcer


During this period, Betar had in its club on ulica Kościuszki at the former foundry. This was a large area with industrial complexes that were spread over various blocks of buildings, enclosed within walls and buildings. Inside it were many lots of varying topography, which enabled the development of defensive sport uninterrupted. Systematic activities and large–scale public assemblies were conducted there.

Regarding antisemitism in the city, an event in which Betar was involved should be mentioned. In 1934, on Lag B'Omer [3rd May], all Zionist youth movements in Częstochowa met at the village of Jaskrów. Returning to the city that evening, they were attacked by marauders. Betar and “Brit Ha'Chayal” immediately went into action and provided the rest of the groups with cover and thus casualties were prevented. But, amongst the members of Betar and “Brit Ha'Chayal”, there were a few wounded. The majority of our days were grey, filled with difficult, monotonous everyday labour. People who are no longer alive, and some who are living in Israel and abroad, distinguished themselves in these tasks.

Years passed and major shifts occurred in Betar's activities. The gates to the Land [of Israel] were locked. Aliyah commenced under the motto “Af–al–pi” [Nevertheless]. The first from our city to emigrate was Naftali Potaszewicz (Hadari). The harsh conditions of illegal Aliyah did not frighten the youth. The Aliyah, organised by Betar, enabled any Jew, regardless of ideology, to emigrate to the Land of Israel and, thus, dozens of Częstochowa youngsters were saved from the Holocaust. At the head of the Aliyah operations stood Józef Cymerman. Nearing 1939, the Aliyah intensified.

(With the outbreak of the War, Betar went underground and, there too, its members distinguished themselves. Zvi Potaszewicz and Pinkus Samsonowicz fell as heroes (see: Clandestine Operations). Many perished, but many others managed to arrive, after much wandering, in the Land of Israel. Thus ended Betar's activity in Częstochowa!)

[Pages 237-244]

“Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” in Częstochowa

Chaim Landau

In the public of Częstochowa's Jews, “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” held a prominent position as the first Jewish youth movement.

At the beginning of the First World War, the Jewish youth movement arose in several large cities in Poland. Influenced by movements abroad, Jewish youth began to unite in scouting groups which, over the course of time, developed and also crystallised ideologically.

Such groups and troops also arose in Częstochowa. Their members were high school students, workers and commercial employees. In the first years, the movement had a marked general Zionist character and was very warmly received within Zionist circles. In Częstochowa, it found its patron and guardian in the renowned public figure Henryk Markusfeld, who put spacious premises and a large part of his house on ulica Kościuszki Street (in the Aleja Wolności part) at their disposal. In those years, a large part of the city's Jewish youth belonged to this scouting union.

In 1917, the first conference of Jewish scouting organisations in Poland was held in Częstochowa. Representatives of scouting unions from Warsaw, łódź, Piotrków, Będzin and other cities gathered at the club of the Sport and Exercise Association (on ulica Ogrodowa) and decided to hold a nation–wide conference and to establish a general union under the name “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair”.

Częstochowa not only entered the web of the Jewish Youth movement as one of its first cells, but also as the location of the first assembly, at which this movement's organisational foundations were laid.

In the years between the two World Wars, the standing of the “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” movement was very important in the city. Members stood out everywhere and it was also possible to recognise them by their distinct scouting attire. Every year, on Lag B'Omer, “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” paraded on the city streets, marching in lines under its banners, with its band of flutes and drums marching at the front. A multitude of Jews awaited the parade in the evening, to see the “guards” returning from their annual outing in Błeszno, where they spent the holiday, with talks and games, at the scouts' camp they had built.


“Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair's” Lag B'Omer celebration in 1928


From time to time, “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” would hold public balls or its drama group would appear before the community.

All these were external displays were a kind of side–effect of the vigorous life that was conducted daily at the “cell” (that is what the guards called their union's clubhouse). The cell was always as busy as a bee–hive. Youth, between the ages of 13 and 20 gathered there, in training groups for scouting or sports exercises. Some sat and discussed communal and national problems or studied something. An important educational work was conducted, both in the physical and spiritual areas. Here, the character of the young Jewish generation was forged – the generation of builders of the Land of Israel and Ghetto Fighters. Here, the youth's world views were established and, here, its path in life came into being.

“Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” is what created the prototype of the Jewish youngster, with a Zionist and social conscience, to whom no spiritual creation was alien, who was not indifferent to society's problems and who had to be active. This type, even if he abandoned the path of “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair”, retained distinct character traits which placed him in the front lines of action and fighting wherever he may be.

Over the course of the years, “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” crystallised and set itself real and defined goals – the education of a young Jewish generation, who physically fulfils the vision of the rising of the People of Israel in its land, the Zionist and Socialist ideals, in a kibbutz in the Land of Israel. Indeed, since the first years of the cell's existence in Częstochowa, its members and graduates flowed to the Land [of Israel] and the kibbutz.

In Israel, there are many graduates of the cell in our city. They are loyal and dedicated members in kibbutzim Beit Alfa, Mishmar HaEmek, Ein HaHoresh, Ein Shemer, Gan Shmuel, Mesilot, Nir David, Negba, Ein HaShofet, Yad Mordechai, Gilon, Ein HaMifratz and others. This long chain continued from 1920 until the Aliyah of the last survivors, following the Holocaust.

Besides intensive educational activity inside the walls of the cell, “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” members also participated in extensive communal projects.

The cell in Częstochowa excelled in its activities for “Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael”. For years, it held the first place in the collection of funds. [We] should mention the name of Szmul Horowicz z”l, who devotedly managed the K.K.L work on behalf of the cell and continued doing so until the last moment, even in the ghetto.

The cell was also active in the “Tarbut” [Culture] movement. In it, members were in a Hebrew and Land–of–Israel atmosphere and, here, the sound of the Hebrew language was prominently heard. In all of “Tarbut's” projects, “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” took a very active part.

“Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” held a special position in “Ha'Chalutz”.

In 1929, the “mature”, from the age of 18 and up, joined as members in “Ha'Chalutz”, thus reviving the “Ha'Chalutz” branch in Częstochowa. The guards headed the activity, as was the case regarding the “League for Working the Land of Israel”.

There also was cooperation with TAZ – the [Jewish] Health Care Society, which found, in the “guards”, loyal friends, because “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” members knew how to appreciate the value of a healthy and strong body. The “guards” carried out fundraisers for the Society's projects and TAZ provided them with certain aid in organising their “summer colonies” [camps]

Incidentally, within “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair”, there was the tradition that, every summer, its members would go out to summer–camps, both in nearby villages and also in the further away mountains. This short period of fun together, for 3–4 weeks in the bosom of nature, with excursions and the creation of special experiences, made a powerful impression and was of great value.

The “guards'” participation was also noticeable in the professional unions, to which the working members belonged. In some of the unions (needle, metal), they were the most active.

The first cell was, as mentioned, at Markusfeld's house. After his death, it was lodged at different locations in the city. For many years, it was across the Warta River (in Zawodzie). From there, it moved to ulica Dąbrowskiego, next to the army barracks and, after that, to ulica Focha. The locations were distant from crowded areas and thus enabled unmolested activity in the yard or in the large square. However, being far from the Jewish streets and in a Gentile area, the “guards” were often embroiled in quarrels and brawls with the “shkotzim”[1]. They were beaten up and also retaliated well and emerged with dignity.

But, as antisemitism intensified in Poland, it became too dangerous and the cell was forced to relocate to the city centre, to the crowded Jewish area. The cell then moved to one of the buildings in the New Marketplace [Nowy Rynek], where there was also a large yard.

Although, in the first years, the majority of the cell's members were secondary school students, with the crystallisation of its pioneering character, the proletarian element in it prevailed. The [number of] high school students diminished and [that of] apprentices and workers increased. However, the intellectual level of the cell's members was not lowered. Parallel to the usual movement activities, educational training was conducted. In the evenings, members sat and studied different academic subjects, in order to broaden their horizons and establish their world view.

As mentioned, the Częstochowa cell was one of the main cells, the foundation cells, of Poland. Cell members participated in the movement's national and world conferences and were active in its institutions. The Kielce–Zagłębie Regional Centre was also based In Częstochowa, to which were affiliated dozens of cells from Sosnowiec to Radom. Regional meetings and conferences were also held here from time to time.

We will mention the names of a few members active in the cell and the movement – Mojsze Szajewicz (now Dr M. Ishai, in Tel–Aviv), Dawid Nowak (Chadashi), W. Wołach (both died in Israel), Ze'ev Horowicz, Lea, Efrajm and Jadzia Braun (all these are in Mishmar Ha'Emek), Mania Birencwajg, Awigdor Celnik, Oded Blum, Welwele Burman, Jeremiasz Gitler (died in the ghetto), Wolek Fajglowicz (now Binyamin Fagi), Jakob Braun (both in Gan Shmuel), Szymon Wajntraub (Beit Alfa), Chaim Landau (Mesilot), Mojsze Klarman z”l (“Clarus” – killed in the War of Independence – defending his kibbutz, Yad Mordechai) and Szoszana Ajchenwol–Kelerman (Yad Mordechai), Berl Gwircman (among the activists in the resistance movement in the ghetto; now Dov Ben–Yaakov, member of Ein HaHoresh [kibbutz]).

In 1928, the horticultural farm passed from the hands of the Jewish community to the authority of the world “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” movement. From then on, Częstochowa became a sort of centre for the general “guards” movement. The farm became a training ground, in which guards from different localities in Poland and Galicia were concentrated. The farm became a central location for the cell as well. Here, the “guards” from Częstochowa met with their colleagues from the other regions of Poland. The “guards” from the regions near the border, from Volhynia and Lithuania, influenced the “guards” from Częstochowa, increasing their sense of belonging to a larger guards' family.


Group of “HaShomer HaTzair” members
(among them, the lawyer M. Ishai – now in Israel)


From 1932 onwards, the [scope of] the training broadened and exceeded the farm's boundaries. Trainees infiltrated diverse workplaces in the city, in workshops and factories. The group members became active and took part in the city's political and social life.

The group attained recognition in wide circles, which saw in “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” a small–scale realisation of a kibbutz in the Land of Israel. Visitors from different circles, including non–Zionist ones, were thrilled to see the new young Jewish type.

The “guards” remained at the farm until the outbreak of the Second World War. They left it in September 1939, when they set out on the road of wanderings. Only a few were able to arrive in the Land of Israel.

(Even in Jewish Częstochowa's last years, in the tragic years of the Holocaust and Heroism, the cell continued its activity. It kindled, within the Jewish youth in the ghetto, the belief in the vision and did not allow its members to despair. It tempered their character and prepared them for resistance and rebellion. Graduates of the cell partook actively in the resistance and rebellion both within the walls of the ghetto and as partisans in the forests. Many of them fell and a few made it to the Land [of Israel] and the kibbutz.

Some of the cell's graduates were in training groups outside Częstochowa when the War broke out. They experienced the hardships of the War throughout the Soviet Union, but nevertheless remained loyal to their movement. After the War, some arrived in the Land [of Israel] and the kibbutz (in Nir David and others).

In the period between the end of the War and their coming to the Land [of Israel], members were active in survivor circles and in organising the “Bricha” and “Ha'pala”[2] and distinguished themselves in this activity).

Translator's footnotes:

  1. Literally “disgusting insect”, the term “sheigetz” (Pl. “shkotzim”) is a derogatory appellation for a particularly depraved Gentile. Return
  2. Bricha (escape) and Ha'pala (ascension) refer to the organisation of escape routes from Europe for Holocaust survivors and their illegal immigration to Palestine. Return

[Pages 243-246]

The “Gordonia” Movement in Częstochowa

Juda Cymerman

In 1933, Polish Jewry awakened towards the approaching [events] and Jewish youth began to establish training–groups, pending Aliyah to the Land of Israel. The song of those coming to see off the few pioneers emigrating to the Land of Israel echoed at train–stations in different cities. The entourage returned to their homes and, in their hearts, beat the belief that soon they, too, would make Aliyah. The youngsters among them returned to their branch, cell or lodge, depending on which movement they belonged to. The “movement” was the bridge between the youth and the great goal they to which they aspired.

Among those active in “Gordonia” of Częstochowa, we must mention the members Jarzombek, Leibel and Iwecia Mandelbaum, Blumenkranc, Rozenwajn, Zelig Lewkowicz, Nuchem Klarman and Ciaciura.

Part of the Jewish youth swarmed, at staggering pace, to the central point of the youth movements – “Ha'Chalutz”. Among these movements was also “Gordonia” – a popular, pioneering youth movement, which was organised in groups, from the ages of 13 to, and including, 18. Groups were known as Buds, Scouts, Wakers, [and] Fulfillers.

The “Gordonia” lodge in Częstochowa was located on ulica Krótka.

I shall attempt to recreate, along general lines, an evening at the lodge, in the days that have passed and are no more. Around three hundred boys and girls spent there their evening hours. The “Buds” group has just finished their activity, the “Scouts” listen to a story, the “Wakers” make the members dance and the “Fulfillers” group discuss the day's events and the news received from the older members in the training groups, who are preparing for Aliyah. The essence of the movement was expressed in the blessing with which the members used to bless each other: Fulfil – and ascend!

Over the course of time, some members left the movement and returned to the bosom of their family. They did not wish to rebel against the path which their father and mother followed. On the other hand, another group of members left for training in Sosnowiec.


The leadership of the “Gordonia” youth movement cell


A second group, graduates of the Jewish high school, went to Zadońska–Wola. A third group joined the “Atid” [Future] movement and left for Pabianice, while the youngest group went to Tomaszów Mazowiecki. This was the fruit of many years of labour!

Meanwhile, the gates to Aliyah had been locked and “certificates” became something that members had to wait a year or two to receive. Conditions in the Diaspora were unbearable and the heavens above the Land of Israel darkened with clouds. The year 1936 had arrived, the year of the [Arab] revolt in Palestine. On the “ascent” [to the top of a mountain], five members went to work and were killed by enemy fire. Mourning was announced in the movement. Their memories were commemorated in poems dedicated to them and the location was named “Ma'ale Ha; Hamisha” [The Ascent of the Five]. Those who stood fast and did not relinquish the cause believed and sang:

It is our destiny, it is the command. This is the path; this is the line.”

Again we saw off members who, little by little, made Aliyah, after a lengthy sojourn in the training squads.

The movement's graduates, upon leaving it, became its supporters. They donated to Keren Kayemeth Le'Israel, to the Party. They bought shekels and voted for the Working Land of Israel.

Due to a lack of budget, we were forced to leave the lodge on ulica Krótka and to carry on our activities at the “Party's” lodge, under difficult conditions. Nevertheless, by orders of the main leadership, we continued. Emissaries from Warsaw and also from the Land [of Israel], who occasionally visited us, instilled in us the spirit of faith. They spoke of “possibilities” of an “Aliyah B”, without training.

The year 1938 approached. Again, a few individual members made Aliyah, with or without certificates. From Germany, came evil tidings. We met, face–to–face, with the pioneering youth that had left Germany, joined our training squads and found refuge in the pioneering movement. We felt that a similar destiny also awaited us, as Częstochowa is only 30 kilometres from the German border. The German broadcasting station incited, and the danger was approaching. The Jews of Zbąszyń, who were expelled, also found refuge in our city, and their youth found its place in “Gordonia” and in Częstochowa's horticultural farm. Life flowed like the waters of the Warta River that passes through the city – until the year of woe came – 1939.

(On Friday, the first of September, we heard the first shot. It was clear to us that a decisive shift was occurring in our lives. On that day, and the following day, on Saturday, the remaining members of “Gordonia”, “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair”, “Freiheit” and some of the members of “Poalei Zion” and “Hitachdut” gathered in order to decide what we were to do. Despite our ideological differences, we were united in the concern that enveloped us all. We experienced a new event – the German invasion. We were helpless. We abandoned the lodge, together with the archives and banners in it.

A beautiful period of educational work in the spirit of A.D. Gordon, after whom our movement “Gordonia” was named, had come to an end.)

[Pages 247-250]

Agudas Yisroel” in Częstochowa

Noach Edelist

In order to strengthen religion and faith after the great destruction to the spirit and soul that came as a result of the First World War, the world “Agudas Yisroel” [Union of Israel] party was established and a branch was then also established in Częstochowa.

As its main goals, the branch set out to unite all the ultra–Orthodox, the true Jewish believers, in order to fight as one against the breaches that came from the east and west and which endangered the existence of traditional Jewry who lived according to the laws of the Torah.


Educational matters

At the start of their activities, the “Agudas Yisroel” union in Częstochowa established “Beis Yaakov” [House of Jacob] cheders and yeshivas, as well as schools for Jewish girls. It also saw to the arrangement of charitable institutions to help the poor, mainly to male and female pupils in their schools and their parents who lacked money.

This system of “Agudas Yisroel” also helped, in a certain manner, to hold back the assimilation that was spreading and to strengthen Judaism.


Delegation to the Land of Israel

In 5684 [1923–24], a delegation, on behalf of “Agudas Yisroel” in our city, left for the Land of Israel in order to purchase land and establish a God–fearing colony in the Land of Israel. However, due to the financial crisis that had broken out then in Poland and also because of the bloody events in the Land of Israel, the delegation was unable to carry out the affair and the members of “Agudas Yisroel” in our city, who had given of their money for these purchases, lost it.


The Representation's Stance in the Municipality and in Public Institutions

Agudas Yisroel's” representatives in municipal institutions and the rest of the general public institutions fought as one, together with the representatives of the other Jewish parties, against discrimination against Jews and for their rights. They demanded the municipality's participation in the maintenance of Jewish institutions, as well as in the imposition of fair taxes on Jews for the needs of the State and the city.


In Financial Life

Agudas Yisroel” did not limit its activities to spiritual matters alone. It also saw to the material needs of its members and sympathisers.

To this end, it established its own bank, “Bank Kupiecki” [Merchant Bank], whose goal was to aid, as far as possible, the establishment of businesses and means of livelihood for those in need in order to sustain their families.

At the head of the bank stood the best of the active and finance people in the religious circles, who dedicated much of their time and energy to the development of the bank and the widening of its activities.


Details on “Aguda's” Management and its Active Members

In the periodical “Der Yud” [The Jew], from [the weekly reading of] Parshas Shemini [Leviticus 9:1– 11:47], 5679 [1919], an article was printed about a general assembly of “Agudas Yisroel” in Częstochowa, from which we quote the following details:

On Sunday of Parshas Shemini [23rd Mach 1919], a general assembly of “Agudas Shloimei Emunei Yisroel was held.

It was opened by Reb Szmul Zelwer and, with him, sat at presidency Reb Icek Majer Justman, Reb Józef Dziobas, [and] Reb Michal Leib Mindecz. The protocol was conducted by Reb Icek Kaplan.

Orators: Reb Jakob Edelist and Reb Szyia Zeligman, who stressed the importance of the issues being discussed; a few of those present added to their words and afterwards appropriate decisions were made.

To the new council, [the following] were elected: Abram Naftuli Horowicz, Icek Kaplan, Ze'ev Borensztajn, Nachman Kryman, Kalman Rajcher, Szmul Zelwer, Icek Majer Justman, Józef Silman, Szyia Zeligman, Paltyjel Borzykowski, Szlojme Gold, Całel Potasewicz, Izaak Dziobas, Menachem Fogel, Mnasza Margules, Jakob Zvi Fajerman, Dov Gwircman, Józef Dziobas, Izaak Piotrkowski, Dawid Zelwer, Faywel Rybsztajn, Dov Goldrajch, Dawid Szmul Warszawski, Józef Borzykowski, Zendel Lewenhof, Mojsze Borzykowski, Szlojme Ruzewicz, Natan Dawid – the son–in–law of [the Chassidic] Rebbe Reb Shulem, Zysza Lincfeld and Abram Epsztajn.

As “delegates” were chosen Abram Zomper, Chune Gold, Chaim Don Lipszyc, Lipman Dawid Klajnman, Simche Ferleger, Szlojme Częstochowski, Jakob Majer Prajs, Zalman Szmulewicz, Menachem Zelwer, Zvi Stobecki, Luzor Horowicz, Dawid Stobecki, Lewi Wargon, Szmul Faywel Rubinsztajn, Majer Szczekacz and Abram Faywel Tobiasz.


Agudas Yisroel” Youth Council

The following were elected to the above council: Józef Edelist, Aba Baumac, I. Kaufman, Anczel Borzykowski, Aaron Justman, Abram Rusiecki, M. Brum, Mojsze Bromberg and Zelig Szacher.

[Pages 249-250]

The “Poalei Agudas Yisroel” Organisation

Lipman Rajcher

In 5684, 1924, two years after the Poalei Agudas Yisroel organisation was founded in Warsaw and in Łódź, a branch was also established in Częstochowa Zalman Klajnberg, Józef Zultobrodzki, Binem Rabinowicz, Aaron Justman, Faywel Landsman, Zvi Cymberknopf and Lipman Rajcher. There were about four hundred members in the organisation, religious workers from all walks of life.

In those years, the Polish government imposed heavy taxes on merchants and on small tradesmen. Many of them literally faced bankruptcy. They began, therefore, to seek new sources of livelihood, mainly as workers. However, in this field, Jews encountered many obstacles. Heavy industry, which was then in its first stages of development, was almost completely blocked to the Jews, not to mention governmental positions, in which the Jews had absolutely no foothold. In this sense, the plight of the religious worker, wearing traditional garb, was sevenfold as hard. He was regarded as unfit and unable for any physical labour. Also the observance of Shabbes by a religious worker constituted a further problem, because in almost all the factories, and even those of religious Jews, they worked on Saturdays, based on [temporary] “conveyance–deeds” [rabbinical] permits. The religious worker needed great courage when he was, sometimes, forced to combat even against “his own kind”.

The “Poalei Agudas Yisroel” organisation, which was then established and whose motto was “Justice according to the Torah”, came to the religious worker's aid and protested against the unfair attitude of religious factory owners towards their employees.

In the spiritual arena, the “Poalei Agudas Yisroel” organisation arranged evening lessons in Talmud, Mishna, [and] Hebrew Bible, a library with thousands of books in Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish, in the spirit of ultra–orthodox Judaism.

In the financial field, it arranged proper workplaces and a charity fund for small–scale loans.

In its communal activity, it took part in the elections to the “Sejm” and the municipality, together with its mother–organisation “Agudas Yisroel”, except for elections to the Jewish Community Council, in which each member was free to vote as he wished.

As identification with the Land of Israel grew and younger members of the organisation demanded more operations in the fields of training and Aliyah, this demand also found a deep echo in Częstochowa and some were sent for training to Łódź.

(The idea of Aliyah infiltrated the organisation and dozens of members emigrated to the land [of Israel] in the 1930's, in different ways. Some were even able to bring over their relatives, in the course of time, thus saving them from the claws of the Nazis).

[Pages 251-252]

Bnos Agudas Yisroel

Lipman Rajcher

As representative of “Agudas Yisroel”, the “Bnos Agudas Yisroel” organisation was also established in Częstochowa, in the late 1920's. Its members came from ultra–Orthodox and even secular families, [and] were all graduates of the religious school [for girls] “Beis Yaakov”.

The youngest class was called “Basia” [Daughter of God] and was directed by the younger members among the “girls”.

Most of the movement's activities were conducted in the ideological–cultural arena: ideological and political speeches (on Judaism, the world and the Land of Israel) and in the educational arena: religion, tradition, library, belonging to the movement [and] active aid to “Beis Yaakov”.

Communal activities were expressed in helping the city's welfare organisations, continuous work for the “Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin” [Sages of Lublin Yeshiva] fund and “Keren HaYeshuv” [The Settlement Fund].

When the persecution of Jews began in Germany, a vigorous German goods boycott operation was carried out.


A lesson at the “Bnos Agudas Yisroel” organisation


The branch was in contact with the Centre in Łódź, which published a periodical called “Beis Yaakov”, sent speakers, organised conferences and instructress' courses, as well as pioneering training for girls planning to emigrate to the Land of Israel (“Ohel Sara” [Tent of Sarah]).

Among the active instructresses were Tovah Gelibter, Hadasa Gold, Riwke Goldbaum and many others whose names I've forgotten.

(With the outbreak of the Second World War, a constant flow of refugees came to Częstochowa; the movement's lodgings and the “Beis Yaakov” [school] were appropriated for the refugees. After some time, the existence of all organisations was prohibited, by decree of the Nazi invader, and all Jewish schools were closed down. The gathering of the “girls” at their parents' houses was considered lifethreatening, although aid was given, nevertheless, to refugee girls in private homes and also Shabbes meals were provided for religious refugees.

The days of the Holocaust put an end to the dear Jewish girls, who excelled so much in their modesty and their good traits of character. May God avenge their blood!)


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