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[Page 124]

The Religious Working Youth
– “Po'alei Agudes Yisro'el”
[1]

by Avrom Kornfeld

Translated by Yael Chaver

During the first years after the First World War, Jewish young people in Poland underwent an amazing process of social restructuring and productivization. Due to various factors, Jewish youths could no longer expect to make a living through commerce, and a large proportion sought their future in productive trades and work. In this way, new groups of young Jewish workers were created, and most of the Jewish political parties developed.

This restratification process did not skip our town. A group of civic activists, headed by Rabbi Yehoyshue–Heshel Frenkel and Rabbi Moyshe Biller, realized that it was necessary to create an organizational framework for the young workers, where they could make good use of their time after working hours, while continuing along the path they learned during their Jewish education.

 

Continued Study Society[2]

The “Continued Study Society” was then founded. Reb Yeshaye Gemeyner, the famous “Continued Study Society” activist and leader of Krakow, was invited to speak. He gave a fiery speech in the Old Bes–Medresh, inspiring the listeners with the concept of “Continued Study.”

[Page 125]

 

 

These activists succeeded in organizing a group of young people, and rented a location in the house of Reb Moyshe Grus, [later at] Reb Yitzkhok–Leyb Ernberg, and, finally, at Reb Shoel Nayman's, where a regular minyan met on Shabbes and holidays, and daily religious study classes as well as lectures were held.

Eventually, the “Continued Study Society” became too specialized to attract young people, at a time when so many different political parties were active among Jews.

The members then met and decided to join the national organization of Poalei Agudas–Yisroel.

 

A Training Kibbutz

This decision opened up new horizons and created many new possibilities for the members. The Gorlice branch eventually became one of the most important and disciplined branches of Poalei Agudas–Yisroel in Poland.The members were active in all organizational and educational areas, and especially distinguished themselves in training for agricultural life in Palestine and ‘;aliya.[3] Together with comrades from Agudas–Yisroel Youth, they established a training camp for members who aspired, as everyone did, to perform ‘;aliya.

Besides the above–mentioned activists, there were many comrades who took the initiative and kept the branch constantly lively, thanks to events they organized.

Of these, noteworthy were Reb Khayim Paltiel Landoy, Yekl Vild, Leybish Rapoport, Avrom Elimelekh Bergman, Hirsh Leyb Frayer, and Meyer Rozbakh. Each in their own way presented regular lessons in Bible, Talmud, Hebrew, Orthodox literature, as well as talks on various scholarly topics.

Other organizers were Dovid Bergman, Yekhezkel Krisher, Yoyne Markovich, Dovid Nebentsal, and Yitzkhak Moyshe Rath.

It is a pity about those who have been lost and are not to be found![4]

 

 


Translator's Footnotes
  1. A labor party affiliated with Orthodox Judaism. return
  2. Such organizations, combining religious study with political activism, were typical of the Orthodox workers' parties. return
  3. Agudas–Yisroel Youth was another splinter group of the main Agudas–Yisroel party. The special Hebrew verb used for emigration to Palestine, or the Land of Israel as it is known in Jewish tradition, is ‘;aliya (“ascent”), as this relocation was always considered an ascent to a higher plane of being. Zionism adopted ‘;aliya to denote Zionist emigration to Palestine, with the long–term goal of creating a Jewish state. return
  4. An Aramaic phrase that laments the loss of a great person who is irreplaceable. return

 

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