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Częstochowers in Israel


[Pages 389-392]

Dr Józef Kruk

E. Ben–Moshe

Częstochowa gained a reputation throughout Poland as an active and organised community and its people displayed a great understanding in public matters [and in] cultural and artistic enterprises. Many community members donated their might and means, [and] their skills and capabilities to the public benefit. But there were two chosen among the tens of thousands, whose achievements gained them worldwide fame. They were the famous violinist Bronislaw Huberman and Dr Józef Kruk – a thinker, socialist, fighter [and] very accomplished activist.




Dr Kruk was the son of a wealthy, assimilationist family. He found himself as a revolutionist and a fanatical socialist – in the same ranks as those fighting for the liberation of Poland from the control of the Russian Tsar. He was a fighter for its independence and its language.

Already, from the dawn of his youth, Dr Kruk was drawn to the socialist ideal. He would frequent the slums and suburbs, mingling with the toiling masses, preaching, instigating to rebellion and recruiting souls for the equality of classes, the realisation of the socialist ideal and the war against the Tsarist reign.

In the 1930's, upon his return to Częstochowa from the wide world, he delivered lectures [and] organised public meetings – especially towards the elections to the Polish Sejm. He would also give speeches in the Jewish neighbourhoods, on the banks of the Warta, next to the Kastenes – the crates of fish – and in other locations.

From my deceased father, I heard the story of when Dr Kruk was still a young lad, in 1904. Those were the first days of the awakening of socialism – a very stormy period of heightened tension and fervour – and, here, Dr Kruk appeared at the head of his group on fair day, when the marketplace was filled to the brim with a multitude of people – peasants and commoners. He went up to the balcony of one of the apartments which overlooked the marketplace and began a speech in Polish against the oppressive Tsarist regime. In his speech, he called the masses to rebel against the foreign power and to fight for Poland's independence. The reason for the assembly was the murder of a Polish labourer by the Tsarist regime's troops. But, before Kruk managed to finish his inflammatory address, the Russian police appeared and, only with difficulty, was he able to flee to safety.

Upon his arrival in Israel, Dr Kruk visited, among other places, kibbutzim and, when he was in Ein Harod, he met with the old Częstochower Reb Berisz, the father of the poet Shoshana Częstochowski.

During their encounter, [Dr Kruk] experienced quite a particular “incident”.

When Dr Kruk was introduced to Reb Berisz, he remembered and exclaimed, “But if it isn't the wellknown socialist and revolutionary sheigetz [hoodlum] Kruk, whose hand did not spare me either!”

It turns out that, back in the day, Reb Berisz was a shop–owner and employed a worker, who had demanded higher wages. But Reb Berisz was in no hurry to fulfil his request and so the labourer turned to the trade union which was under the leadership of Dr Kruk. The matter was examined and the results were not long in coming – one fine day, Dr Kruk, with his retinue, stormed into Reb Berisz's shop, holding drawn pistols. They closed the shop's shutters, locked the doors and threatened that unless he raised the worker's wages by one rouble, as he rightly demanded, “such and such” would happen to him. On this “festive” occasion, they also honoured him with ripe epithets, such as “exploiter”, “leech”, among and others.

The ending was less dramatic because Reb Berisz, taking their impressive appearance into account, declared he was prepared to add 2–3 roubles.

Dr Kruk and his wife now live permanently in Israel – in Jerusalem, the capital. He was a good friend to the deceased President Yitzchak Ben–Zvi and, nowadays, is a [regular] visitor in the home of our current President, Zalman Shazar.

In Israel, Dr Kruk occupies himself with writing. He pens articles and essays for the press and also sends articles abroad. He serves as Honorary President of The Association of Częstochowa Jews in Israel.

[Pages 391-396]

Dr Józef Kruk

Abram Zak (Buenos Aires)

When we speak of Dr Kruk, we must read some pages of the beautiful chapter of the Jewish Workers' Movement in Poland between the two world wars. The name of Dr Kruk epitomises that heroic struggle for rightness. From his earliest years, Dr Kruk has devoted his whole life to this struggle.

Dr Józef Kruk's path to Socialist Zionism was one of emotions, filled with dynamics, as suits his revolutionary spirit.

Dr Kruk fought for his ideals with a double weapon – with the word, as one of the most popular orators in Poland, as a tribune of the people, both in the Jewish and Polish street and with writing, as a fine writer–publicist in the Jewish and Polish press.

We must also not forget that, in pre–War Poland, the road was not scattered with roses for a workers' leader and especially not for a Jewish one.

Not far from Brisk in Lithuania was the tearfully renowned location of Kartuz–Bereza, with a gruesome concentration camp and Dr Kruk could not avoid being a “lodger” there.

Over the course of the years, Dr Kruk published various periodicals [and] an entire series of [literary] portraits of famous Jewish and non–Jewish political personalities and theorists, such as Zangwill, Liebknecht, Bebel, Jaurès, Lenin, Trotsky, Kautsky, Kropotkin, Róża Luksemburg, Vera Figner, and many, many others. Dr Kruk was proficient in all the movements of different nations. He was well acquainted with their leaders and they are masterfully described in his portraits.


The “Independent” Committee
Sitting, from right to left: D. Szlezinger, M. Weksler, Dr J. Kruk, J. Zarnowiecki, E. Chrobołowski, and Sz. Nirenberg
Standing, from right to left: M. Alter, A. Win, A. Bratt, Sz. Frank, and L. Berkowicz


It befell Dr Józef Kruk to be present at the Battle for Jerusalem[1], during the siege, and he lived through the historic events with great exhilaration. The Jewish revolution swept him away and gave him such wings as had none of all the other revolutions. His enthusiasm and wonderment for Jewish heroics may be seen in his collection of essays, entitled Tzvaot Ha'Shichrur (“The Armies of Liberation”), which was published in Israel immediately upon the Jewish State's first year.


As an addendum to the writer Abram Zak's article,
we also present a few biographical notes concerning Dr Józef Kruk

(The Editors)

Józef Kruk was born in 1885 to a wealthy family, which was very much assimilated. In the beginning, he studied in a private Polish school and later in the Russian gymnasium. At the Częstochowa gymnasium, he organised a students' circle, which was engaged in Jewish history and literature. He later organised various students' circles in the gymnasia of Piotrków, Sosnowiec, Będzin, Zawiercie, Łódź [and] Suwałki.

In 1903, a conference of all these students' circles was held in Świder, near Warsaw. Exactly at that same time, the first circle of Workers–Zionists was established in Warsaw and, at the gymnasia conference, Józef Kruk, together with Józef Leszczynski and Józef Czernichow–Danieli, presented a programme similar to that of the Workers–Zionists. A Students' Zionist Socialist Union was [then] formed, whose central committee was based in Częstochowa and whose main leader was Józef Kruk.

In 1905, when the general strike broke out in Russia, Kruk, together with a group of Polish and Jewish labourers, implemented the general strike in Częstochowa. Together with a few Polish socialists, he also led a strike at the Częstochowa gymnasium for classes not to be conducted in Russian, but in Polish instead. Kruk was consequently banned from the gymnasium.

His lodgings were the place where the first activists, who organised the Zionist Socialist Workers Party in Częstochowa, used to congregate.

From 1906 [and on], Kruk studied in universities abroad (Zürich, Munich, Halle and Berne). In Zürich, he married the student (later medical doctor) Raja Rapoport, who had also actively taken part in the Świder gymnasia conference in 1903 and, later, in the students' circles. Józef Kruk was the leader of the fledgling Zionist Socialist Workers Party's “Central Foreign Committee” and he was in close contact with the European socialist parties' leaders. At the student–immigrant assemblies, he conducted public debates with Vladimir Lenin, Georgi Plekhanov, Leon Trotsky and Róża Luksemburg.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Józef Kruk and his wife were living in London, where he became close friends with Israel Zangwill and participated in the Territorialist movement. He also helped Vladimir Jabotinsky organise the Jewish Legion.

Dr Kruk performed various activities amongst the working masses in Whitechapel. Together with the Russian revolutionaries, he organised the London Committee of Delegates of the Russian, Polish, Jewish, Georgian, and Latvian parties. Future Soviet ministers also belonged to this Committee – Tchitcherin and Litvinov. With the outbreak of the revolution in Russia, Kruk and his wife travelled to Leningrad, where he became a member of the local “Workers' Soviet” [viz. Council].

Later, Józef Kruk came to Warsaw, where he became the chairman of the United Jewish Socialist Workers Party (“S.S.” and “Seymists”) and Editor–in–Chief of the journal Der Neuer Weg [The New Way]. He took part in the international socialist congresses and was a member of the Executive Committee of the [Labour and] Socialist International. There was not even one single city or town in Poland where Dr Józef Kruk did not hold conferences and lectures on socio–political and literary themes. He was arrested dozens of times and was sent to the Kartuz–Bereza concentration camp, from which he was only freed through the energetic intervention of world–famous personalities, such as Romain Rolland, Henri Barbusse, Bernard Shaw, and Bertrand Russell. Afterwards, for two years, he lay in a sanatorium suffering from lung disease.

When Hitler's armies occupied Poland, Józef Kruk and his wife stole across the border [in the] woods and arrived [first] in Białystok and, later, in Wilna. From there, the Kruks made their way through Norway, Denmark, Sweden and France to the Land of Israel, where they arrived in 1940, settling in Jerusalem.

The Częstochowa Landsmannschaft[2] chose Dr Józef Kruk as its Honorary Chairman. In the Land of Israel, Dr Kruk is engaged in fruitful publicist activity, publishing articles in the newspapers Davar, Ha'Poel Ha'Tzair, and Letzte Nayes.[3]

The Jews of Częstochowa [in Israel], together with Israeli leaders, marked their famous landsman's 70th and 75th birthdays with jubilee celebrations in Jerusalem and Tel–Aviv, at which speakers included President Yitzchak Ben–Zvi z”l, the Chairman of the Knesset Yosef Sprinzak z”l and (long years may they live) the President Zalman Shazar, Izaak Grünbaum, Golda Meir, Zalman Aran, Dr Zerach Warhaftig, the member [of the Knesset] Yona Kesse, the former Israeli ambassador Dr Benzion Razin, and the Chairman of the Landsmannschaft, Dr Horowicz.

The Jubilee–Committee decided to publish Dr Kruk's memoirs, which will appear both in Hebrew and Yiddish.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. From December 1947 to 18 July 1948, during the 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine. Return
  2. Ger.; association of refugees coming from the same region. Return
  3. “Word,” and “The Young Worker,” in Hebrew, and “Latest News,” in Yiddish. Return

[Pages 395-398]

Reb Szlojme Zalman Shragai (originally Fajwlowicz)

The Book Committee




He was born on 25th Kislev [1st day of Hanukah 5660 – 1899] in the small shtetl of Gorzkowice (near Piotrków Trybunalski) in Poland. His father was Reb Mojsze Fajwlowicz (one of the old Radzyń Chassidim), who was descended from the Shach[1] and the Maharsha[2]. His mother was Frymet, the daughter of Elio Szmul Wajngort from Warka ([also] one of the old Radzyń Chassidim), who was descended from the holy Jew, Reb Duwid Lelówer ztz”l. His father was a lover of Zion. He belonged to the Ha'Mizrachi movement and it was from him that his son was inspired with a love for the Land of Israel and religious Zionism. Once Mr Shragai had reached bar–mitzvah age, his father gave him the task of collecting funds for “settling the Land of Israel”, which was then [through] Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael.

Thus, from his father, he received both the love of Torah and that of the Land of Israel. Mr Shragai has remained loyal to Radzyń Chassidism and he [therefore] wears tzitzit with [one] blue–violet [string][3].

He received his education in cheders and yeshivahs and learned secular studies from private tutors. Already in his youth, he thought much about the Land of Israel and the building thereof. He joined the “Torah and Work” movement, which was the beginning of the Tzeirei Mizrachi and Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi movement. He was appointed a member of the movement's main leadership and was one of its activists propagating the Zionist cause amongst religious Jewry. He also dedicated himself to the work for the national funds and was given power of attorney on behalf of his movement for the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and the Keren HaYesod council.

When he was still quite young, he tried his hand at writing and publishing articles and notes in the movement's brochure Der Mizrachi Weg [The Mizrachi Way], Unser Leben [Our Life] and Częstochower Zeitung.

In 5684 [1923/24], he married Miryam, the daughter of Reb Szyja Szpilberg from Częstochowa and, that same year, he emigrated to Palestine and began his public work on his party's behalf.

His dedication to the movement's affairs and the building of the Land [of Israel], in the spirit of the Torah and tradition, elevated him to the [movement's] primary ranks and he was elected to Mizrachi's World Centre and to Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi's executive committee.

From the 15th Zionist Congress onwards, he participated as a representative in all Zionist Congresses and was also voted as his movement's delegate to the Zionist Worker's Council. Mr Shragai progressively grew in his Zionist and public activities and he occupied a prominent position in central, public and national institutions as president of The Maritime League for Israel (which was created by David Remez z”l) [and of] The Centre for the Production of the Land [of Israel][4] [and] Chairman of the public council for Hebrew programmes on the broadcasting service Kol Israel [Voice of Israel] during the British Mandate period. From 5689 [1929], he was a member of the Jewish National Council's Board of Directors.

At the 22nd Zionist Congress, he was chosen to head the Jewish Agency in London, where he lived for two years in 1946–1948. While living in London, he established connections with British clerics and their institutions and succeeded in securing the support of many of them for the Zionist cause. He also took part in the conference of Scottish churches, where he carried out his mission successfully.

With the establishment of the State [of Israel], he returned to the country and served as a member of the Jewish Agency Executive without portfolio.

In 5711 (1951), he was appointed Mayor of Jerusalem. He was the first elected Mayor [of Jerusalem] after the establishment of the state and served in this position until 5713 (1953).

In 1954, he was again elected to the Jewish Agency Executive in Jerusalem, as head of the Immigration Department. In this capacity, he did many great things during the period of The Great Aliyah and, to this purpose, he made many visits to different countries and was the living force behind everything that was done in this area.

Mr Shragai is endowed with literary talents and, as a thinker, he also published several books and booklets most noteworthy of which are The Teachings and Faith of Israel, Religious Zionism, Working Relations in Israel, Domains, The Process of Transformation and Redemption, An Hour and an Eternity, Portents of Redemption, In the Struggle for Judaism (Yiddish) and others. He has also written, and continues to write, articles on current questions in the newspapers Ha'Tzofe [The Observer] and Letzte Nayes, as well as in various compilations, such as Netiva [Path], Sinai and others.

He came to Częstochowa in 1918. His uncle, his father's brother, lived there. This uncle, Reb Szraga Fajwel Fajwlowicz, was a school headmaster there (before that, he had opened a school together with the poet Ch. N. Bialik in Sosnowiec) and he was the grandfather of his wife Miryam, the daughter of Reb Szyja Szpilberg and Sara, who was the daughter of Reb Szraga Fajwel Fajwlowicz.

Upon his arrival in Częstochowa, he was, at once, introduced to the work of Tzeirei Mizrachi, Ha'Chalutz Ha'Mizrachi, Bnei Mizrachi, and Ha'Mizrachi[5]. Together with Mr Jakób Leslau and others, he established the Ha'Chalutz Ha'Mizrachi [training] farm. He was active in the community's life – in the works of Zionism, education and culture – [both] religious and secular.

In the month of Av 5684 (1924), together with his wife, he emigrated (about six months after their wedding) to the Land of Israel, with Jakób Leslau and others.

While he was living in Częstochowa, he was invited, for one year, to head the Ha'Mizrachi School in Wola Wiązowa, not far from Częstochowa. In a short period, he had managed to improve the level and to double the number of pupils.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. Acronym of the book title “Sifsei Cohen” (“Lips of the Priest”), by the renowned 17th century Talmudist and Halakhist Reb Shabse HaCohen. Return
  2. Acronym of “Our Teacher the Rabbi Shmuel Eidels” – a famous 16th century rabbi and Talmudist. Return
  3. The Rebbe of Radzyń claimed he had discovered the true blue–violet colour stipulated by the Torah for certain uses, namely in tassels. Other religious factions use plain white tassels, not accepting the Radzyńer Rebbe's opinion. Return
  4. An association promoting goods manufactured by Jews in Palestine. Return
  5. The first three were youth groups affiliated with the HaMizrachi movement. Return

[Pages 399-402]

Reb Jakób Leslau

The Book Committee




He was born on 7th Iyyar 5657 [9th May 1897] in Częstochowa to his parents Reb Chenoch Henech and Itta (daughter of Reb Abram Goldrajch).

His father was one of the prominent Jeżów and Stryków Chassidim and his mother was a descendant of the Rebbe of Ciechanów, Reb Awrum Landau z”l, author of the books “Zchysa DeAvruhom” [“Merit of Abraham”] and “Ahavas Chessed” [“Love of Charity”], whom his generation referred to as “The Tzadik of Ciechanów”.

He began his studies, as usual, in cheders and he later studied in the yeshivas of Zduńska Wola and Radzymin Torah and Chassidism, in the style of Kotzk [Kock].

From the days of his youth, he was infused with a fierce desire to act for the public and, already in 5677 [1917], when he was still quite young, he founded the Etz Chaim Yeshiva in Częstochowa, whose purpose was to enable young men, who were studying Torah, to also learn secular subjects, without having to relinquish their place of study and their traditional way of life and adapt to a lifestyle which was not in accordance with their ideology. (In Volume One of this book we have published a protocol, characteristic in its originality, regarding the foundation of this yeshiva.)

Meanwhile, the First World War had come to an end and what ensued were a period of national [viz. Zionist] awakening and a hope for the Zionist ideal to be implemented in reality. The Balfour Declaration was made public and the belief was reinforced that the longed–for redemption of the Jews and their land was imminent.

Leslau and several others, who shared his views, felt that the time had come to also act amongst the religious and Chassidic youth, in order to include them within the ranks of the activists, so as to hasten the redemption. At the initiative of chosen individuals amongst the religious youth, the Tzeirei Mizrachi movement was founded in Poland and, later, Ha'Chalutz Ha'Mizrachi also.

Leslau established a branch in Częstochowa and was elected its Chairman, as well as a member of the movement's main leadership. He also took a very active part in the establishment of branches in cities throughout the Zagłębie [region] and organised their activities.

The religious extremists of the city and its vicinity did not look upon this favourably. But they realised that it was not within their powers to hinder him, for they also took into account his and his family's lofty standing. They concluded that, in this case, it was better to do nothing.

In 5683 [1923], Reb Jakób Leslau married Chaja, the daughter of Reb Duwid Majer Granek, one of the old Stryków Chassidim and the owner of a soap factory.

With his entrance into active life, his public–religious–nationalist activities did not cease. On the contrary, they even intensified. Leslau, on behalf of Ha'Chalutz Ha'Mizrachi – of whose national leadership he was a member – organised courses for the professional training in carpentry and metalwork of yeshiva students who intended to emigrate to Palestine. The courses were conducted at the city' Szkoła Rzemieślnicza [Crafts School].

He also founded the first agricultural farm in Poland on behalf of Ha'Chalutz Ha'Mizrachi and was among those most active for the Jewish National bloc[1] in the elections to the Sejm, as well as to the City Council and the Jewish Kehilla.

He also dedicated himself to the work for the national funds and was given power of attorney on behalf of his movement for the Keren Kayemeth Le'Israel and the Keren Ha'Yesod council.

In 5684 [1924], he fulfilled his life's dream and emigrated to Palestine. There, he soon became one of the most active people in “Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi,” a movement which was forced, at the time, to fight for “a day's work” for its members. The Histadrut Ha'Ovdim Ha'Klalit [General Organisation of Workers] was perceived in its endeavours as “a dangerous rival”, as it wished all those requiring its [assistance] to be connected only with them.

During that period, the hands of those engaged in arranging working positions on behalf of Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi's employment bureau slackened and they proposed yielding to the Histadrut's demand – to cease operating separately and to join its ranks. Leslau was among those who opposed this vehemently and, thanks to him, Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi's independent bureau was not liquidated and, to this day, he has remained one of its principal activists and leaders. Shortly afterwards, the “dissidents” returned to their source of origin – to Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi.

Over the course of the years, the movement's financial enterprises were also consistently stabilised and Leslau's merits were great in organising and managing the Olim–Bonim [Immigrant Builders] company, which was a type of religious Solel Boneh[2].

Leslau was also head treasurer of the Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi Centre's and was the founder of its taxation system, as a member of its Executive Board.

He was also among the founders of Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi's Loans Fund, which is now called “Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi Bank”. He has been its Director since it was first founded in 5688 [1928], when its base capital was 200 [Palestine] pounds (literally: two–hundred pounds) – which now reaches five million [Israeli] pounds. He is, to this day, its General National Director, with the bank having 28 branches.

Mr Leslau is also a member of the Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi movement's financial institutions' board of directors, a member of the Adanim Bank's management, a member of the management of the Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi Bank's investment company, Chairman of the directorship of the Gilad Pension Fund, a member of the Mafdal's [National Religious Party] executive board, a member of the Mafdal leadership in Tel–Aviv, a member of the directorship of Midrashiat Noam[3] and a member of the movement's global auditing committee.

He was among the founders of the movement's Mishkenot and Ha'Bone[4] financial projects and is a member of their managements. As a member of Ha'Mizrachi and Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi's Executive Board, he was a member of the second Assembly of Representatives[5] and also a delegate to the 19th and 24th [World Zionist] Congresses. During the time he lived in Jerusalem, he was a member of its Kehilla. He is also a member of the Tel–Aviv Religious Council (from the day it was founded to this day), the chairman of the Tel–Aviv Chevra Kadisha management, Chairman of the Ezras Torah[6] [Fund] [and] HIAS [Hebrew Immigrants Aid Society]. He was previously was a member of the Financial Council, next to the Prime Minister's Office.

Mr Leslau served as Chairman of this Sefer Częstochowa Book Committee and, if we have been privileged with its publication, he has played a large and important part in the colossal and responsibility–laden work, which was necessary in order to carry through this onerous mission!

Translator's footnotes:

  1. It is unclear whether the reference is to the Mizrachi Party, which participated in the elections to the Sejm, or to the Bloc of National Minorities, which was co–founded by Izaak Grünbaum and included Zionist factions. Return
  2. Lit. “Paving and Building”; the earliest, and formerly one of the largest, construction and civil engineering companies in Israel. Return
  3. Religious–Zionist school in Israel. Return
  4. Housing companies. Return
  5. The elected parliamentary assembly of the Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine. Return
  6. Philanthropic organisation that provides Torah students with financial aid. Return

[Pages 401-404]

Reb Jakób Lewit

E. Ben–Moshe




Reb Jakób Lewit, who in Częstochowa was affectionately nicknamed “Reb Jantshe”, was born in the town of Miechów (Kielce region). He arrived in Częstochowa in 1906, where he married Ms Taube (née Lubling), a godfearing and generous–hearted woman, after which he settled in our city.

Already from his beginnings, he became famed as a successful and very accomplished businessman in the field of industry and commerce. In just a few years, Mr Lewit became one of the most prominent figures in Częstochowa's financial life – at first, as one of the main representatives of the gigantic Stradom concern and, after some time, also as one of the important share–holders in that business.

In 1918, he established the Lewelen linen factory, which became famous, throughout Poland and beyond, for the quality of its products. The factory progressively expanded, developed and broadened and, before the First World War, employed over 300 workers.

In Jakób Lewit's praise, it should be noted that he made efforts – although this entailed no small difficulties, due to the opposition on the part of the Polish workers – to also employ in his factory Jewish labourers – and not just as simple workers, but also as foremen, professional experts and accountants. Their number reached 70, viz. about 25% of his factory's entire workforce.

Jakób Lewit did not confine himself within the narrow scope of his private business, despite the fact that this took up most of his day's hours. He did not relinquish his public and Zionist activism. Seeing as how, in his paternal home, he had been taken with the Zionist ideal and [that of] the national revival in the spirit of the Torah and tradition, he was also counted amongst the leadership of the Mizrachi movement. [He served] alongside his peers in views and actions – alongside Goldsztajn, Weksler, Warszawski and Zylberberg – who were among the founders of this movement in our city. He also took part in all the Zionist events.

Concerning his contributions to the national funds Keren HaYesod, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and to Mizrachi's Land of Israel Fund, Mr Lewit donated personally and [urged] others to give [also][1]. After giving his own contributions handsomely and generously, he actively – and with his full vigour – participated in soliciting donations from the rest of the city's wealthy residents, who followed his example.

He was also one of the founders of our city's Hebrew high school. One of its halls was named after him and his deceased wife – may he be set apart from her for a good, long life[2]!

Although Mr Lewit, [both] officially and though his lifestyle, belonged to the Nationalist and Zionist camp, he did not withhold his aid even from institutions which were not noted for their sympathy towards the nationalist movement, as he recognised their public value. Thus, he was found amongst

the important supporters of the Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin [Academy of the Sages of Lublin], when its founder, the prodigy Rabbi Majer Szapira ztz”l, turned to him for a contribution in order to establish this yeshivah. Jakób Lewit's donation was large and very valuable, as may be judged from the fact that his name was gloriously displayed on the marble plaque that was affixed at the yeshivah's entrance, alongside the name of the famous industrialist Reb Uszer [Oskar] Kon, owner of the renowned Widzewska Manufaktura factory next to Lódz.

Reb Jakób Lewit visited in the Land of Israel, at first together with his son Dawid in 1932, to explore the possibilities for productive investments.

He travelled again in 1934 – this time alone – and embarked on his practical investments and on organising the export of his wares to the Land [of Israel]. At this point, he also made plans for moving his family and assets there. To this end, his son Dawid arrived in Palestine in 1938 and settled there. In 1939, Reb Jakób arrived for the third time, bringing his son Izaak with him. They celebrated Izaak's bar–mitzvah there, after which he was left in Palestine to continue his studies.

Jakób Lewit returned to Częstochowa in order to permanently liquidate his businesses in the Diaspora. Meanwhile, the Second World War broke out and, only by a miracle, he was able to escape with his entire family and make it to Palestine.

Thanks to his initiative, diligence and capability – with which he had already been blessed in his youth – he managed to establish a spinning and weaving wool factory near Petah Tikva, called “Jakób Lewit and Sons” – an important factory employing 180 workers, whose production is mainly intended for export. The Minister of Trade and Industry valued this factory and, due to its large export, was acknowledged as a Certified Exporter. The [Minister] even proclaimed that it was an “excellent exporter” and one of “the country's most special textile factories”.

He was also graced with the current Minister of Finance's esteem and particular attention for his welcome and beneficial activities towards the financial development of the country in the industrial field.

It should be noted that Reb Jakób Lewit – the same now as before – also continues with his important public activity.

Among other activities, he is a member of the Ha'Mizrachi Investments Bank's Board of Directors, a member of the Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi Bank's Board of Directors and Chairman of the council of the Beit El Synagogue in Tel–Aviv. He is one of the active members of the public committee for the commemoration of the Częstochowa community, which is involved in the publishing of the book in its memory.

Additionally, Mr Lewit was active in a whole series of various types of institutions – social, financial, communal and others.

May our aged landsman, who is respected by all as a man of action and thought [and] who continues working wonders with his youthful vigour, be blessed with many more years of health and fruitful activity for the benefit of our People and our redeemed and rebuilt land!

Translator's footnotes:

  1. With quotation marks in the original Heb; reference to Pirkei Avot, Ch. 5, Mishna 13: “He who desires that he himself should give, and that others should give: he is a pious man.” Return
  2. In traditional Judaism, it is considered inauspicious to mention a live person in the same sentence with a dead one, thus a “differentiation” must be made. Return

[Pages 405-406]

Dr Elyahu [Eliasz] Horowicz



Group of Częstochowers with Reb Mendel Horowicz during his visit to Palestine in 1924
Sitting (r–l): Sz. Gold, M. Horowicz, [and] D. Chodosz. Standing: A. Zisman, M. Zilberszac [and] E. Horowicz


Dr Elyahu Jakób Horowicz, son of Menachem [Mendel] and Rywka (née Zilber) was born in Częstochowa on 27th Adar 5658 (5th May 1898). He was raised and educated in a traditional, nationalist [viz. Zionist] home. As was custom, for several years, he attended a chider and, later, went to the high school – actually to the Polish high school and not to the Russian one, in order to prevent the desecration of Shabbes by writing, which was a stipulation at the Russian schools. In addition to general subjects, there was also a teacher of Hebrew and Judaic studies.

His father (see Sefer Częstochowa, Volume I, col.717, Reb [Izaak] Mendel Horowicz), who as a manufacturer was busy with business affairs all year round. [Nevertheless] he did not forsake spiritual matters and was also a fervent Zionist, which was the direct cause for his sons being brought up in a nationalist spirit and, over the course of time, becoming activists in the Zionist youth movement. During the First World War, with the advent of the Scouting Movement, Elyahu was among the first to fight against assimilation and his troop was amongst those who realised Zionism – most [of its members] emigrated to Palestine.

Back before he left Częstochowa, he was among the founders of Tzeirei Zion and Ha'Chalutz and was also active in the Samoobrona [Pol; self–defence] organisation (the organisation of defenders against antisemitic rioters) in 1918 in Kraków, which was headed by Rabbi Dr Yehoshua [Ozjasz] Thon.

Due to these events [i.e. antisemitism], he decided to emigrate to Palestine.

Elyahu stole across borders and arrived in the Netherlands. There, at the suggestion of Dr Nechemia Dlima [?], Chairman of K.K.L., he was sent, with a group of young people, to [receive] agricultural training.

In 1921, Elyahu Horowicz arrived in Palestine, where the representative of PICA [Palestine Jewish Colonisation Association], Mr [Chaim] Kalwaryski, who knew him from the Netherlands, referred him to [kibbutz] Kfar Giladi – to serve as cow–herd [in the dairy].

One year later, he was summoned to become manager of the dairy at Mikveh Israel[1] and, in 1923, he went out with a group of Częstochowers to Rishon LeZion to work in the tobacco plantation.

After some time, the group disbanded due to the harsh conditions. In 1924, Mr Horowicz travelled to France to train as a veterinary surgeon and returned to Palestine in the summer of 1929 to collect material for his doctoral thesis. There, he found himself in the midst of the [Arab] riots of Av 5689 [August 1929] and he felt an obligation to join the Haganah[2]. He was sent to Yesod Ha'Ma'ala with a group headed by the Częstochower, Moshe Egozi.

Once the operation was concluded, Elyahu Horowicz travelled to France to complete his studies and receive his doctorate title on the subject of “Rearing Cattle for Milk in the Land of Israel” (and the secondary topic – “Rearing Cattle in Subtropical Lands”). A short time later, he returned to Palestine and, in parallel with his professional occupation, Dr Horowicz was active for public needs and donated much of his time for the benefit of the people, and particularly those from Częstochowa, serving as Chairman of the organisation. During the Second World War, Dr Horowicz was a member of the presidential board of the Union of Polish Immigrants and, during his tenure as its de facto chairman, he organised the shipping of packages to the natives of Poland in Russia, which they exchanged for food to sustain themselves.

Dr Horowicz was among the first of the Third Aliyah from Częstochowa. He is married to Bella (née Szolk [?]), who made Aliyah in 1904 and is one of the most seasoned piano teachers in Israel. Of all his relatives, there is another brother in Israel, Wilk [Wolf], who is one of the oldest residents of kibbutz Mishmar Ha'Emek.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. Youth village and boarding school. Return
  2. The Defence; the main Jewish paramilitary force in Mandatory Palestine. Return

[Pages 407-410]

Abram J. Gotlib

The Book Committee

Abram Juda [Lejb] Gotlib was born in Częstochowa on 23rd Tishrei 5650 (15th October 1890) to his father Menachem [Szlojme Mendel] (a scion of the family of the Rebbe Reb Duwid of Lelów ztz”l) and mother Perla, the daughter of Chaim [Hersz] Berkowicz, who was a renowned Torah scholar in the city.

He received a traditional education. He first studied in chederim and, later, i Rabbi Jszajewicz's yeshiva. When this yeshiva was closed down, Reb Abram Juda was among those whom the rabbi taught in his home. He also learned Torah with famous teachers at the study–hall.

Gotlib decided to study at the local Professional School, which was directed by the engineer Assorodobraj. His parents only agreed to this on condition that he should continue to maintain the traditions of his forefathers and that he should dedicate some of his time to religious studies. Things went well for him and he became one of the Professional School's best students.

While Gotlib was still learning in the study–hall, he became close to the Zionist circles and, as a pupil at the Professional School, he participated in activities of the Poalei Zion workers' party.

In 1908–1909, when the activities of all the workers' parties subsided, Gotlib was among the only ones in his party who continued his political activism uninterrupted.

When he was in Warsaw, he contacted his party's Central Council and, through him, the connection with the members in Częstochowa was renewed.

During the First World War, Gotlib, as representative of Poalei Zion, was among the founders of the “Populäre Bäckerei” [“Popular Bakery”], which provided the population with bread at a lowered price.

In 1915, he travelled to Köln in Germany to study his profession. In Köln, he met Jewish workers from all parts of Poland and, with the aid of local elements and of the Jewish kehilla, he developed cultural activities for them.

In 1917, Gotlib returned to Częstochowa, where he found fertile ground for his political and professional undertakings. At this point, the party also set up a nice club called the Arbeiter Heim [“Workers' Home”], which was headed by Szymon Waldfogel. Gotlib co–opted to the club's council and he began to act vigorously in all areas of the party's work. He was also among the founders of the Arbeiter Heim's grocery store and was elected to its council.

Following the First World War, the Workers' General Council was founded in Częstochowa and he was chosen, by the Metalworkers' Trade Union, as member of the council.

In 1919, Gotlib and Natan Rozenzon established the “Institute for the Manufacture of Dies”, which eventually also came to produce metal fixtures for construction.

Being self–employed, he was admitted as a member of the Union of Independent Craftsmen and was voted Chairman of the metalworkers' section and also as a member of the Union's council. When the Polish government issued its proposal regarding the Guilds Law, Gotlib was among those opposing this law, the main purpose of which was to limit the Jewish craftsmen.

Once the Guilds Law was put into effect, Gotlib was chosen as the Guild Elder and was also appointed by the government's Craftsmen's Bureau as a member of the examinations committee for craftsmen and trainees.

When, in 1933, the Craftsmen's Ha'Chalutz association was organised – with the purpose of preparing its members for Aliyah – Gotlib was among the organisers of the branch in Częstochowa. He was also chosen as its Deputy Chairman and as a delegate to the first assembly of Craftsmen's Ha'Chalutz associations, which took place in Warsaw in 1934. Gotlib also wrote articles for the Zionist newspaper Unser Weg in Częstochowa and continued his activity in the Craftsmen's Union and its central council.

At the end of September 1936, Abram Gotlib emigrated to the Land of Israel, together with his wife Ruchla and their daughter Dwojra. With his family, he went to Tel–Aviv, to their daughter Cypora, who had already immigrated in 1933. Gotlib immediately joined the Histadrut, by which he was sent to work in his profession. He began work as a technical manager, at first, at the Pliz Metal Works in Holon and, later, as a director in the military industry.

Abram Gotlib is very active in The Association of Częstochowa Jews [in Israel]. At the first assembly, which was held when he arrived in the country, he was elected as a council member and, later, as Secretary of the organisation – a position which he holds to this day.

His house has become a meeting–place for Częstochowers. As a representative of the organisation, he always endeavours to come to the aid of his landsmen in their times of trouble.

The news of the loss of his son Jakób hy”d at the hands of the [Nazi] enemy crushed his spirit. In addition, his wife Ruchla z”l passed away on 30th Sivan 5715 [20th June 1955].

Despite all his tribulations, he continues his activity in The Association of Częstochowa Jews [in Israel].

[Page 409]

Simcha Rajch

The Book Committee




Simcha Rajch (his father was Perec Rajch) was known as an ultra–orthodox Jew who engraved tombstones. Already in his youth, he had joined the Poalei Zion movement and, over time, became one of its leading activists and spokesmen.

In 1924 he emigrated to Palestine, together with his wife Lea (née Zajdman) and his little daughter. When his daughter fell ill and physicians determined that the local climate was harmful for her, he was forced to temporarily leave the country and to return to Częstochowa.

Also upon his return he did not abandon his aspiration for Zion and he resumed his Zionist activity with renewed vigour. Simcha Rajch called upon Jewish labourers – and Jewish porters among them, urging them to emigrate to Palestine and to join the Jewish conquest of work at the Haifa port, which was then in the first stages of operation.

In 1935 he was finally able to fulfil his ambition and emigrated to Palestine with his family for a second time.

[Page 410]

Isachar Szwarcbaum

The Book Committee




Many were the Częstochowers who fought in the ranks of the Jewish People's defence forces in the Diaspora against antisemitic rioters and, later, in the war against the Nazi enemy – in partisan groups, in ghettos, in camps and in forests, and in the ranks of the [British Army's] Jewish Brigade.

But Isachar Szwarcbaum's special merit was that he was the only person from Częstochowa to serve in the Jewish Legion[1] during the First World War.

Translator's footnote:

  1. Unofficial name for the 38th to 42nd Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers, made up of Jewish volunteers, which the British Army raised to combat the Ottoman Empire. Return


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