The Zionist Movement
by Avraham Yitzhak Slutzki
Translated by Yocheved Klausner
The Zionist Movement in Lenin began right after the First Zionist Congress. As far as I can remember, the Zionist idea and ideal was brought to Lenin by the young people, who at that time were students in the Yeshiva, at the universities or elsewhere. These were Yehoshua Mordechai Tziklik, Yakov Chaim Grinberg, Zalman Bressler, Avraham Meir Paperna and others. I remember that they held their meetings in the attic of Moshe-David's house, as well as in Ben-Zion Tziklik's house. They organized and enlarged the movement. They also organized a children's reading circle. The children's periodical Olam Katan [Small World] was received from Warsaw and I would read aloud from it, for my friends, and they liked that very much. I also remember that we sold shares of the Bank Anglo-Palestina, 10 Rubles per share. Very few were able to buy a share for themselves so they bought with a partner. They also bought lottery tickets for 50 Kopekas each. When the sum reached 10 Rubles we would put in a hat the names of all the buyers and drew lots. The winner would receive the money.
In connection with that I remember an interesting event. Among the buyers there was a Christian young man by the name of Albert. His father Martin was an employee of the administration. The young man was befriended with Jewish boys and girls. Once, it happened that he was the winner of the lottery. We suggested that we pay him 10 Rubles for the share he had won, but he refused and kept it as a charm that he hoped would bring him luck.
The movement was strengthened and ramified thanks to new people who appeared in town. In the neighborhood of the administration offices the family Singalovski lived: R'Zelig Singalovski, his wife, their five sons and a daughter. All the sons were handsome, talented and educated. They have studied in the big cities in the country and abroad. They would come home on vacation or for the Holidays and the young people in town would seek their friendship. One of the brothers, Aharon, was a very talented speaker. Once, on the Shabat after the fast of Tish'a BeAv [Shabat Nachmu] it was announced that Aharon Singalovsky will speak at three o'clock in the afternoon at the New Synagogue. People came, and the synagogue was packed. The speech aroused
the tempers and people came close to ecstasy. I remember, when he finished his speech people simply surrounded him and kissed him. Yankel Latishka lifted him on his arms and cried with emotion.
An unfortunate incident should also be mentioned, however, which mirrored the feelings of certain circles of the Jewish population and their attitude toward the Zionist ideal. After the speech, when the public calmed down, one of the most respected personalities that lived in town at that time R'Isser Nekritch, ascended the podium. He began speaking about the Zionist ideals, and suddenly his father-in-law David Grayew, a respected person, rose and immediately caused an uproar. And the meeting, which certainly had been a historic one in our shtetl, broke up. Of the Singalovski brothers I remember that one of them I think Nachum went to Eretz Israel and Aharon became one of the main leaders of the ORT organization in Berlin.
Singalovski often visited the United States concerning the ORT affairs. As the president of the Lenin Landsmanshaft in New York, I would invite him to our meetings and, no matter how busy he was, he would gladly come to the meeting. He felt at home and amazed us with his wonderful speaking talent.
by Henia Schusterman
Translation by Yocheved Klausner
The General-Zionist Hechalutz in our town was founded in 1930-1931. The founders were, as far as I remember:
For us, former Lenin residents, it is naturally not necessary to describe the special local conditions of the town; they were felt by every one of us. But since I am trying to write a page of history, I simply cannot skip such an important moment.
Lenin, being a border town, lived constantly under evening curfew. In the summer we could move freely in the streets until 10 and in the winter until 8 in the evening.
It was very difficult for the young people to adapt to the limited evening-hours and there was a constant strive to escape from the confinement and restraint [lit. Sodom-bed] called Lenin. The most important factor was the national feeling, which burned in the young people's hearts. As soon as the organization was formed, the members were ready to go on Hakhshara [training].
The writer of these lines was among the first to go on Hakhshara. We were sent to several places in Poland. It is difficult to forget the happy moment when one received the authorization to go on Hakhshara and later the authorization to make Aliya. Who could equal us! We couldn't imagine a greater happiness. We didn't realize how important we were. As soon as we arrived we were recognized as excellent pioneer elements in all areas; whether in the love of work or in an unlimited devotion to the national ideal. Thanks to that attitude, in a short time all Lenin trainees were admitted to the Aliya group even before completing the training period.
Apart from very few, who for personal reasons could not make Aliya, all of us went out into the wide world and achieved recognition in its fullest sense. We opened our eyes and saw ourselves in the right light. We found in ourselves hidden and dormant strength, a creational spirit and a healthy world-view. The majority of the Lenin pioneers managed well in Eretz Israel, and were of use to the nation and the land in every respect.
But the heart is bleeding for all those who did not make it.
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