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[Page 104]

Beloved Person

by Avraham Aharon Alperovich son of Yehoshua (ben Zalman Noach) and Rivka

Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan

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Avraham Aharon Alperovich

In the year 1918 to 1919, the youths in Kurenets embarked upon the organization of a Zionist movement in Kurenets. At that point I was still in school. I vividly remember how the adults came to us and called for a meeting of all the students in school and made excited fiery speeches. Even before we truly understood what they were talking about, the phrase "the Land of Israel" kept resounding in our heads. Slowly the sermons became clearer and we could follow the speeches a little better, our interest increased. Our intrinsic curiosity was unleashed and our imagination engaged.

During those days, Tzeirey Zion, an organization of Zionist youths was established in town as well as an organization by the name of Cherut and Tchia. Every night, boys and girls from the school would meet and coordinate games and political discussions. As time passed we started visiting the surrounding towns. We would meet with the youths of Vileyka, which was nearby, and we even exchanged letters with the center in Vilna. At the head of the youth movement there were leaders, and amongst them there were teachers from the Hebrew school in town, and they would make speeches about Hebrew literature, the history of Zionism and the history of the Jewish nation. We would have parties that aimed to collect funds for Keren Keyemt and Keren Hayesod (funds for Eretz Israel). We would regularly make the rounds of all the homes in town, trying to get donations for the miscellaneous Hebrew national foundations. We would sell pictures of the Zionist leaders, and once in a while we would put on plays in which we participated as amateur actors. In time we succeeded in getting most of the youths in the area to partake in our activities.

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Ephraim Lieb Kramer

In all such activities, Ephraim Leib Kramer (son of David, Later changed his last name to Ben David) was the central figure. He would organize and energize the activities with his charismatic personality. He had a most splendid penmanship. Each letter looked like a pearl. He would also write all the correspondence, and during the meetings, he would many times debate much older people with courage, introspection and acumen. He was chosen as the head of the Zionist committee and with his energetic personality, the local branch was brimming with activities.

In the year 1922, the branch of Ha'chalutz was established in Kurenets. We communicated with the center and followed their instructions from the very start. I remember that year a few leaders from the center of the Ha'chalutz in Warsaw came to Kurenets. Amongst them were Y. Bankover and A. Dobkin. They gathered us and told us about our mission for the future. We all acknowledged the missions that they suggested to us, which would be concluded by immigration to the land of Israel. At the very beginning there were only a few members in Ha'chalutz, but at the end of the year, the branch in Kurenets became a very respected branch and was renowned in the entire region of Vilna.

We chose members to head the organization, and at the top of the organization (the head of the branch) we elected Ephraim Leib Kramer. Other promotions were given to other members of the organization, I amongst them. Each evening we would meet and discuss issues such as how to enlarge the organization, how to teach and promote better understanding of the Zionist pioneer movements among the youths. We started organizing the Ha'chalutz not only in our town but also throughout the whole region. We would go to all the neighboring towns and in time we were successful and managed to involve other youths who were committed to founding branches in other shtetls.

Ephraim Leib gave a lot of time and energy to these activities. Every Saturday, we would meet halfway between Kurenets and Vileyka with the youths in the area. There we would spend hours singing and strolling together. During that time we started organizing Hachsharah (training to live in an agricultural community in Israel), founding farming communities as educational/training places in which to study agriculture in different parts od Poland. We sent some members of our branch to such communities. I was among the first to live there. I went to an agricultural community by the name of Trumpeldoria near Vilna (in Lobodov?). There we lived and worked in an agricultural community. We learned how to clear and plow fields, plant seed, and milk cows.

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Hachalutz in Lebodove

I spent almost two years in the agricultural community. Ephraim was not able to go to the farm since his father had died and he now became responsible for the support of his family. Despite his many responsibilities, he spent much of his time volunteering for the Ha'chalutz movement in Kurenets. In the year 1925 he immigrated to Israel together with his mother and his siblings, and after a few months, I joined him in Israel.

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