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[Page 112]

The Pioneer Movement

Yisrael Otiker (Na'an)

English Translation by Steven Wien and Sari Havis

Our city's ties to the Land of Israel were many and deep. Kremenets was a Zionist city. The Lovers of Zion movement arrived in Kremenets almost at its inception. The town's intellectuals joined and later took part in the first Zionist Congresses. From then until the final days of Jewish Kremenets, staunch, dedicated activity for Israel did not cease, nor did the Zionist and Pioneer movements.

Between the two World Wars, many of our town's young people immigrated to Israel, so ties were of a personal kind, too, through sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, with a general awareness of and interest in everything that happened there. Many people lived vicariously, treating events there as if they were close and personal. A letter that arrived from Israel would be shared, moving from hand to hand; Israeli newspapers would be read at different circles and meetings. When an Israeli emissary happened to come to town, he would be “wrung dry” through all possible means and taken to the top of Mount Bona and the Vidomka to be treated to Kremenets' wondrous panoramic view; anything so he would tell …. Young people wanted to know about the kibbutzim and the “conquest of labor,” the Arabs, protection and defense, and so on.

[Translator's Note: “Conquest of labor” is a term used to describe the efforts of the early Jewish immigrants to Israel to reclaim the right of building and tilling the land with their own hands. At that time, physical labor by Diaspora Jews was so unusual that it was not done by the early newcomers but by hired Arabs. The pioneers who wished to fulfill the dream of rebuilding the country and working its land were not accepted as laborers by the previous immigrants who owned farms and orchards. They were not seen as capable of enduring hard physical labor.]

I particularly remember the tension as we waited for news and newspapers during the riots in Israel. Our concern for the future of the Land stayed with us day and night. Young pioneers followed every detail of the events and searched for ways to join the defenders.

The young Kremenetsers stood out in their idealism and devotion, animatedly involving themselves in the nation's and the world's problems. Most were members of youth movements. Many were among those who, in the era of Israel's “locked gates,” penetrated them. But there were also many who despaired, gave up in the hour of crisis; they joined other, non-Zionist, movements and devoted their lives to fighting the Polish government's policies. Dozens were sentenced to long years in jail, and some lost their lives in concentration camps and in jails; some fell on the battlegrounds of Spain, in border smuggling, and the like.

[Translator's Note: “Locked gates” is a term used to describe the British government's refusal to permit Jewish immigration to Israel. This was combated by what was called an “illegal immigration.”]

A refusal to accept the current reality and aspirations for a different kind of life blazed in the young people and pushed them to attempt daring and hopeless deeds.

At the end of World War I, when the third wave of immigration began, young Kremenetsers broke loose and joined the first of those immigrants. Pioneers had left even before the local branch of the movement was established. In Israel, they were found among those paving the roads, establishing work battalions, and being members of the first kibbutzim. As the community life of Poland's Jews became organized, branches of national organizations opened in our town, such as Zionist parties, youth movements, and Pioneer.

Pioneer's level of activity and membership, though, fluctuated from time to time depending on the situation in Israel and immigration there.

As the time for the first group to immigrate drew near, an official branch of Pioneer formed, and a few years later a branch of Young Pioneer as well. (Separate branches formed in the Dubna suburb, and for years parallel branches of Pioneer and Young Pioneer existed there.)

The branches held extensive, structured cultural activities.

[Page 113]

The members learned Hebrew, the geography of Israel, and, in separate classes, Hebrew literature, the history of the workers' movement in Israel, the kibbutz movement, the Federation, and other subjects. In 1926, the first central seminar of Pioneer in Poland was held, and two members from Kremenets took part in it.

[Translator's Note: The Federation (in Hebrew, Histadrut) was a union of the assorted Labor factions. The Young Worker (in Hebrew, Hapoel Hatsair) and Unity of Labor (in Hebrew, Achdut HaAvoda) were socialist Zionist parties.]

In the years after the war, a group of members of the Zionist-Socialist Federation's Liberty movement passed through on their way to Poland from the USSR. In their opinion, the most important task was to build the Pioneer movement, and they devoted their best efforts to that end, establishing branches and training centers. They made their way to Poland through Vohlin, where they stayed for some time, organizing the district council and helping to strengthen branches and establish training centers.

[Translator's Notes: In Hebrew, the Liberty movement was called Dror. Training centers (in Hebrew, hakhsharot) were farms where young people learned handicrafts and agricultural skills before immigrating to Israel.]

At that time, Kibbutz Klosova, a stonecutting kibbutz named after Yosef Trumpeldor, was established, marking a turning point in the forms and functions of pioneer training in Poland. The kibbutz was situated in the north of Vohlin, in the Sarni area. A large group of members from Kremenets went there and stayed for many years while immigration was closed. Having already adapted to a life of communal work, the Kibbutz Klosova members determined that they would wait there until immigration was possible. When that time came and the gates were opened, the first to go included a good number of members from Kremenets, who joined Yagur and Givat-HaShlosha in Israel.

Figure 26. Training Branch of Pioneer of Kremenets (1933),
Kibbutz Klosova Chapter

Klosova was a symbol and example to the Zionist movement in Poland. Among the younger set, many stories were told about the kibbutz's approach and stability. Klosova, being close to our city, had quite an influence on it, and for years it was a driving educational force for the pioneer movement.

The 1929 riots caused a great awakening. The movements called for volunteers to register, and hundreds of young people answered, wishing to immigrate immediately and join the ranks of the defenders.

[Page 114]

In the years following the riots, the years of the Passfield decrees, came days of heavy crises for the Zionist movement. It looked as if any hope for immigration to Israel would be postponed for a long time, causing despair and depression among the young. Dozens withdrew and joined the non-Zionist Left, severing their link with Zionism and the Land of Israel. A very few kept the faith.

In the spring of 1932, the first breach appeared in the “locked gates.” Many young people came as tourists to a Maccabiah held in Israel, but never left, and dozens of people from Kremenets used the same method. In the fall of 1932, authorization for 1,500 certificates was issued, and most of the training center members immigrated. The path had reopened to pioneering immigrants!

[Translator's Note: A Maccabiah was a large sporting event, named for the national heroes of old, the Maccabees.]

Early 1933 marked a turning point for the movement. Hundreds of young people joined and registered in the Pioneer branches, and training kibbutzim sprang up in Poland's towns. A “conquering detachment” from the nearby training kibbutz in Verba, which numbered more than a hundred members who worked in the local sawmill, arrived in Kremenets and settled in one of the houses in the Dubna suburb. The pioneers – men and women – would show up in town carrying saws and axes, looking for jobs: chopping wood, drawing water, or doing any kind of unskilled labor. Kremenets' Jews received them well. Zionist activists and Pioneer members made an effort to help them find living quarters and work. Later, as their kibbutz enlarged and increased in numbers, they moved to a larger house in the north of town.

During 1933 and1934, the pioneer movement in Poland grew to include many thousands of members, and thousands were in training centers. Youth groups far removed from Zionism and pioneering had joined Pioneer. The movement included members of the middle classes, laborers, and students, a very colorful mixture. The Pioneer movement occupied a central spot in Jewish community life. “Certificate” came to be a magic word for young people and many thousands of Jews. The war between parents and children was no more – now they came together, asking to be sent to a training kibbutz. In their hearts, hope was kindled that, in time, the children would get the parents to immigrate, because here, you see, everything was being undermined and falling apart –

That was the situation in most Jewish settlements in Poland, and so it was in our city. In 1933–1934, the Pioneer branch in town had about 300 members, and the branch in the Dubna suburb numbered a few dozen. Together with the youth movements and the League, they numbered about 1,000, a fact that became evident during elections to the Zionist Congresses (the 17th in 1933 and the 18th in 1935), in conventions, and at conferences. The city was often bustling with large pioneer conventions – public assemblies, colonies, and summer camps – all of which aroused much interest among the town's Jews.

In 1932–1938, many people emigrated from Kremenets, and they are spread all over the country: in kibbutzim, villages, cities, and other place. But a larger number were not lucky enough to emigrate. At the beginning of the war, there were dozens, maybe hundreds, of pioneers from Kremenets in the training kibbutzim, some of whom had been waiting for their turn to immigrate for five or more years. Some wandered east to the USSR during the war, and after repatriation at the end of the war, they returned and immigrated to Israel. But many perished on the roads, having been murdered – annihilated – and no one knows what happened to them.


[Page 115]

The First Group of Pioneers

Chanokh Rokhel and Yitschak Biberman

English Translation by Steven Wien and Sari Havis

In early 1921, 12 pioneers, the first group from Kremenets, immigrated to Israel. With that, sporadic, organized immigration of pioneers from our town began, including hundreds of young people and lasting until World War II. The members of the first group were (1) Avraham Biberman, (2) Yitschak Biberman, (3) Shlome Poltorek, (4) Dina Krivin, (5) Yakov Tsizin, (6) Yitschak Eydelman, (7) Bunim Bakimer, (8) Aharonov, a driver, (9) Aharonov's wife, (10) Chanokh Rokhel, (11) Yakov Raykhman, and (12) Yitschak Rokhel.

The first nine arrived on the ship Avetsia on February 8, 1921, and the next two on the ship Marno on February 20, 1921. The last to arrive was Yitschak Rokhel on April 4, 1921. Azriel Gorengut and his family arrived with the first group. Three members of the group stayed in Kremenets: (1) Katye, Dr. Meir Litvak's daughter; (2) Sime Raykhman, who got “cold feet” at the last moment; and (3) Pesach Litvak, who immigrated in 1929.

A certain number of young Zionists in Kremenets felt dissatisfied with their Zionist and community activities in the Diaspora, even though they took a very active part in them. They wanted to fulfill personally what they demanded from others: immigrate to Israel and live a life of working the land there. A few members of this group did immigrate before World War II (Moshe Biberman and Yakov Tsizin). Some were sent by their parents to study in Israel (Yitschak Eydelman to the Hertsliya High School, and Avraham Rokhel to the agricultural school in Petach Tikvah). When the war ended, a large number of young people decided to immigrate at the first opportunity. Fifteen of these dozens of young people had formed a group that had decided to leave immediately, and they began preparations. A small group forced the issue: in 1919, five decided to take a chance and make their way on foot, using any possible means to get there. The city was under Bolshevik rule at that time and changed hands every so often. The group planned to walk to Bessarabia, cross the Dniester to Rumania, and from there pass through Turkey to Israel. A small stream of immigrants used this path in those days; some of them were killed, some got lost, and some arrived at their destination. But in the meantime, with the final conquest by the Polish forces, the government had been stabilized, so the plan reverted to preparing for the whole group to immigrate legally.

Most of the group's meetings took place in the Biberman family's large garden. The discussions centered on the future in Israel and on practical preparations for immigration. In those days, there were no separate Zionist factions in our town yet; we all belonged to the Young Zionists, and in 1918 a regional convention of Young Zionists was held in our town, with Avraham Biberman as an active participant. Willingly and enthusiastically, we took on the fulfillment of Zionist ideals as something that was obvious for young, true Zionists – pioneers of immigration. That is why we called ourselves pioneers; we did not indulge much in ideological discussions of Zionism or socialism, although we had socialist tendencies and looked forward to a working life.

In Israel, most members of the first group adopted the kibbutz lifestyle, which motivated and excited us and in which we saw the pinnacle of Zionist fulfillment. This is not to say that we aimed for this life style even in the Diaspora, as at that time Pioneer was just being established and its emissaries had not yet arrived in Kremenets. Our group was established on our own initiative, and we did not even name it Pioneer but rather called ourselves a group of pioneers.

[Page 116]

What was the composition of our group? We have mentioned the names of the 15 members. Most were children of householders who had received a traditional education, so they knew Hebrew, but most had also received a general secondary education. At that time, the Zionist Organization included circles of intellectuals and householders, and the members of our group came from those. We admired the laborers and craftsmen; we aspired to form a basic, ordinary class of people in Israel. We were anxious to have real working people join us, but at that time those people were not in the area of Zionist influence. When the driver Aharonov and his wife joined us, we were very happy – we saw him as right kind of person for immigration and were sorry that he was the only laborer among us.

At our meetings, we spoke in Yiddish and Russian, but some of us were Hebrew zealots and insisted on speaking Hebrew, which then took its rightful place in our meetings and private conversations. We were greatly influenced in that matter by Yitschak Eydelman, a Hertsliya High School student who had returned to Kremenets for summer vacation in 1914 and did not return because the war had started, but when we immigrated, he joined us. Our group also included most of the young civic activists who gathered around the first Hebrew kindergarten in our town and other general Tarbut projects. In Israel we did not encounter difficulties in adjusting where the Hebrew language was concerned.

There was a sort of selection or a discussion about each member's fitness to join the first group and immigrate or to postpone his or her turn.

At that time, training operations were not yet established, but in the summer of 1920, two members of the group (Chanokh Rokhel and Yitschak Biberman) went on their own initiative to receive agricultural training at the Jewish farmer Itsi Kotitshiner's farm in a village about 30 kilometers from our city. They trained there for about three months. At first, it seemed peculiar to the farmer that he should employ Hirsh Mendil Rokhel's grandchildren on his farm, though he finally agreed to do it. They slept in the granary, where the non-Jewish laborers also slept. They worked at harvesting and threshing and in the cow barn, and did other work on the farm. At the end of the season, they returned home full of self-assurance, happy and “trained.”

Preparations for immigration were starting. At a distance of 50 kilometers from our city is the town of Berestechko, which was famous as a Zionist town from which some people had immigrated before World War I and as soon as the war was over. Other people from there were the first in our area to immigrate. We sent our friend Yitschak Rokhel to find out what the procedure for immigration was, and he brought us encouraging information. After that, in August 1920, we sent two of our members, Chanokh Rokhel and Pesach Litvak, to Warsaw to explore the possibility of immigration. After a few weeks, they returned and told us that the Zionist Directorate had announced the suspension of mass immigration but that there was a chance that soon permits would be given to craftsmen. Immediately, we began to acquire documents certifying that we all were craftsmen: metalsmiths, carpenters, farmers, and the like. We received letters of verification from different craftsmen, which we had notarized according to law. A second delegation, Avraham Biberman and Chanokh Rokhel, was sent to Warsaw with the documents. This made a big impression on the Palestine Bureau: a group with members who are all professional craftsmen! All our members were approved for immigration, and we started the process of obtaining passports.

[Page 117]

At that time, this was a very complicated task, as our region was not considered part of Poland yet still a conquered area, so we had to obtain special assurances of our proper political standing from the police. The second hardship was obtaining visas: first a British one for entry to Israel, and then those for border crossings. A young person coming from the east was suspected of Bolshevism …. We divided the chores among us: Avraham Biberman returned to Kremenets to obtain the needed visas, organize the group, and see to financial means. Pesach Litvak and Chanokh Rokhel continued their efforts in Warsaw. We had to wait there for many months to overcome all the difficulties.

While there, we met delegates from pioneer groups from different cities and towns. At that time, Pioneer and its headquarters were being established. With others, we participated in establishing pioneer houses at 5 Dzika Street and 10 Tverda Street, whose tenants were arrested numerous times by the Polish police. Another serious worry was subsistence for pioneers who were waiting there to immigrate. We also participated in the Palestine Bureau's work, and they demanded that we join their staff for a prolonged period and postpone our immigration. Pesach Litvak gave in to the pressure, stayed in Warsaw, and worked in that office until 1929; the other two refused, and when they had obtained the documents, they returned to Kremenets and immigrated to Israel with the group.

In connection with the first group to immigrate, a local Palestine Bureau was established in Kremenets, headed by Azriel Gorengut, with Yitschak Rokhel as his secretary. There, requests for immigration by the townspeople and others of the area were checked and given approval, which the Warsaw office used as a sort of recommendation.

Raising the financial means to immigrate caused quite a few problems, as the city was poor then, and families had a hard time raising the amount needed. Nevertheless, the parents of most members helped them: one had a few gold coins left, and another took a few dollars or pounds out of his savings and gave it to his immigrating son. Some of us had saved money from our salaries, and others sold some of their belongings, but all of these were insufficient.

Then an emissary arrived from New York Kremenets Relief with money for community institutions. When he and the representatives of the institutions were negotiating the distribution of the funds, we joined the debate, and having no other way, demanded that they budget a portion for the necessities of immigration. As far as we remember, the result was that each person would receive $10 – and with that, the last of the obstacles to our immigration was removed.

The attitude of the authorities changed frequently. First we received papers clearing us politically. Then they began suspecting and provoking us. So we left town quietly, sneaking out one January night in 1921. We took the train to Lvov and stayed there one day, exchanged our money for dollars, and continued on our way to Vienna, where we spent about 10 days until date of the ship's departure from Trieste.

In Vienna, we found out that we had insufficient funds to purchase tickets, but we were helped by the local Palestine Bureau, and we – 70 pioneers – left on the freighter Avetsia. We arrived on the shores of Jaffa after a 17-day voyage down the entire eastern Mediterranean coast. No food was served, and hygienic conditions were sordid, but morale was high, and there was constant singing and dancing, and local Jews brought us food at the different stops along the way.

The ship stopped in Alexandria for two days. At that time, Chayim Weitzmann and Alfred Mond were there, and learning that they were to give a speech in one of the Zionist clubs, all 70 of us pioneers went to hear them. Mond spoke in English, and Weitzmann in Hebrew. He even blessed us. The Sephardic Jews of Alexandria fawned over us, showed us the city, and supplied us with food.

[Page 118]

Then we truly arrived in Israel. On February 8, 1921, nine group members and the Gorengut family disembarked on the shore of Jaffa. We were taken to the immigrants' house in the Ajami neighborhood, and from there we moved to the immigrants' house in Tel Aviv. We stayed in Jaffa and Tel Aviv for 10 days – we were delirious.

The Federation was newly formed, and its impact was not yet felt. Most influence was in the hands of the Young Worker and Unity of Labor parties. The manager of the employment office for the Young Worker at that time was Tsvi Liberman of Nahalal, and he was the one to see that we got jobs and arranged for us to get meals in the Young Worker restaurant on Nachalat-Binyamin Street, which was known as “Chane Mayzel's kitchen.” By then we were out of money, and we needed some so we could buy stamps and laundry soap. We went to Jaffa harbor under the guidance of Yakov Tsizin, to the place where lumber was unloaded, and after a long argument with the Arab porters, who were strongly against us, we succeeded in “capturing” one boat loaded with lumber, unloaded it, and earned 90 cents in hard cash. We were nine men, so each one's share was 10 cents. Joyfully we returned to the immigrant house, bought stamps and soap, and quickly wrote letters home. This was the first money we earned in Israel.

Soon after, Yehuda Kopelvits and Yisrael Shochet came to the immigrant house and told us about the work battalion named for Yosef Trumpeldor, which had just then negotiated with the British authorities to build the railroad tracks on the Rosh HaAyin – Petach Tikvah line. For that purpose, the battalion formed a new detachment: the Railroad-Track-Building Detachment. They suggested that our group and the Shavli group also living in the immigrant house form this new detachment of the battalion. After a few discussions, we agreed to do it. A few members of our group and the Shavli group rode in freight cars by way of Lod to Rosh HaAyin with a load of tents, beds, and work tools, and on their arrival, they unloaded and set up the detachment's tent camp at the Antipatris Castle near Rosh HaAyin. A few days later, the rest of the members arrived in camp, and the paving work began. By day we worked, and at night we danced. When the last three members of our group arrived (Chanokh Rokhel, Yakov Raykhman, and Yitschak Rokhel), they joined the work battalion. Also accompanying us on the ship was Yeshayahu Fishman from Kremenets, who had immigrated from Horokhov where he had been living for the past few years, and with a couple of other members (Fayvishis and Tsvik), the Kremenets group – group 6 in the work battalion – then numbered 12 men. The detachment took in new members daily as singles and in groups, and soon we numbered 150. The Kremenets group made a noticeable impression in the Rosh HaAyin detachment; it was known as a group of good, disciplined workers, and its members were assigned to public roles in the detachment. Our comrade Avraham Biberman was chosen as work organizer, Chanokh Rokhel was a member of the detachment's board, and Yitschak Rokhel founded the battalion's bulletin, MiChayeinu, which still runs today as the bulletin of Kibbutz Tel Yosef. Not everyone in our group joined the work battalion; Aharonov settled in Jaffa and opened a metalsmith shop (after a time, he left the country), and three settled in Tel Aviv: Yitschak Eydelman, Dine Krivin, and Yakov Tsizin. The Gorengut family settled in Haifa but later moved to Pardes-Chane and settled there as farmers.

[Translation Editor's Note: The name MiChayeinu means “from our life.”]

Our absorption into the Land was easy and rapid. We made sure to speak only Hebrew and set an example for the other groups in the battalion. We were happy in our lot and in our new life in the country; it may have been the finest period in our lives.

But the days of glory did not last. A few weeks after our arrival in the Land, the May 1921 riots began.

[Page 119]

Most members of the detachment had gone to Tel Aviv for the May 1 celebration, and with the outbreak of the riots, they were attached to the Haganah troops in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jaffa. They were given pick handles as weapons. The wounded and fallen were brought to Hertsliya High School, and some of our members were given the task of caring of them. It fell to Yitschak Biberman to receive the body of Y. Ch. Brener, and even today he has not overcome the shock it gave him. A few of us who stayed in Rosh HaAyin participated in the defense of Petach Tikvah.

About six or seven months after we joined the work battalion, the first split took place. The Young Worker members fell out and left, and most of the Kremenets members went with them. Some joined the building group in Tel Aviv; others went to Jenin to work in the building trade for the British army and later founded the builders' group Basalt in the city of Tiberius. The members who stayed in Rosh HaAyin were later among the founders of Kibbutz Tel Yosef.

Within a short time, the ba'al habatishe kinder group from Kremenets turned into good builders, plasterers, scaffolding erectors, farmers, road pavers, and layers of train tracks. But the group had disintegrated as a united entity by then, and its members had gone their own separate ways.

[Translator's Note: Ba'al habatishe kinder is Yiddish for “householders' pampered children.”]

Besides the Aharonov family, three more members of the first group left the Land in the following years: Dine Krivin, Yakov Tsizin, and Bunim Bakimer. All the rest are deeply rooted in the life of the country and have prospered. They became integrated into and completely involved in the country's bustling life and did not take the time to maintain regular ties with friends in the Diaspora. But there is no doubt that the existence of an established group that had put down roots in the country influenced the continued immigration of pioneers from our town. And, indeed, immigration continued constantly, in singles and in groups. They numbered in the hundreds, and most of them adapted well.

Such was the beginning of the immigration of pioneers from Kremenets.


The Second Wave of Pioneers (1921–1925)

A. Yosef

English Translation by Steven Wien and Sari Havis

The first group of pioneers from our town immigrated at in early 1921. Soon afterward, other members of that same group came singly. It seemed as if the town had been emptied of pioneer forces, civic activists, and educators, but the pioneer movement did not stop with their immigration; it strengthened, spread, and became more cohesive. The immigration of the first group had served as an example for young members who stayed home. Even though the members who had immigrated did not keep in regular contact with them, letters received by parents, siblings, and friends circulated among many others who read them and caused waves of excitement.

In mid-1921, an official branch of the national Pioneer organization in Poland was established in our town. It was in existence there until I immigrated in 1925 and continued to exist after that. During those years, its membership was 100–150, mostly between the ages of 17 and 20, and about a third of the members were girls. They came from all strata of the community: high school students, young laborers, craftsmen's apprentices, and businessmen's assistants. The parents of the householders were not happy to have their children associate with young people from poor families, which often caused friction between parents and children.

Local training sites did not exist in Kremenets at that time, and in 1924 members were sent to training camps in the towns of Rokitno and Klosova, where they worked in the lumber industry felling trees and in the lumber mills. As the sites could not accommodate sufficient numbers of trainees, the Kremenets branch began to organize training in the local area in and near town. In the village of Sapanuv, they experimented with manufacturing peat in a primitive way, and they attempted other ventures, too.

[Page 120]

During the summer, members went to Folvarki village near our town, where a few Jewish families had farms and were glad to take in the pioneers for agricultural training. During those years, about 10–15 of our members at a time were in out-of-town training kibbutzim. Here is an example: in 1922, a group of 30 students from Krakow came to our town for training. They settled in the Dubna suburb and worked in the lime-burning factory, in the brick factory, in tree cutting, and at other jobs. They stayed the summer and then left. What else did the Pioneer branch do besides training? First of all, they recruited members for our movement, prepared them spiritually for a life of labor in Israel, and taught them the lay of the land. A few times a week there were meetings as well as lectures – based on material from Israeli and local newspapers, books, and pamphlets – on current problems in Israel, the conquest of labor, and the kibbutz way of life. Generally, the lectures were in Yiddish, but since quite a few members knew Hebrew, lectures were given in that language, too. Members who did not know Hebrew had to learn it through lessons held jointly with the Zionist Organization and given in its clubhouse. At that time, in an effort to prepare a reserve from the young ages, Young Pioneer was established.

Figure 27. Group of Young Zionists, 1921

Pioneers from our town immigrated in a stream of about 15–20 a year, not including people from other circles. The board of the local branch would deliberate and choose candidates for immigration. The main consideration was whether the candidate had the possibility of acclimating to Israel and the kibbutz. The second consideration was the character of the candidate – whether he would be able to adjust and adhere to a life of labor in Israel. There were also personal considerations: seniority in Pioneer, obligation to register for the army, and others.

[Page 121]

Figure 28. Union Party Chapter, 1925


Figure 29. Pioneer Board Members

[Page 122]

The results obviously proved that the decision makers made many serious mistakes.

Deliberations on candidates for immigration were always bound up with much tension, almost as much as a matter of life and death, so, not satisfied with the immigration quota allocated to them by the center, the branch did not sit on its hands but looked for additional ways for members to immigrate. The branch even attempted illegal immigration, not as an organized entity but as individuals or small groups from Pioneer.

In that period, families from Kremenets who were not pioneers also immigrated. These were middle-class families from the suburbs of Dubna and Vishnevets.

What was Zionist life like in our town at that time? Besides the official Zionist Organization, a strong, active branch of the Union Party had 100 members. They participated actively in the Sejm election and in all manifestations of community life. There was also a small branch of Jewish Social Democratic Workers Party – Left and the beginnings of the Liberty party. The Youth Guard movement had not yet made its mark. The different outlooks of the assorted Zionist factions were not sharply defined then; their members took part in many spheres of activity together, and Zionist Organization veterans helped with Pioneer activities.

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