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In Australia

Celebration in Honor of
Yitzhak Kachan's 50th Birthday

It became known to the friends of Yitzhak Kachan, the talented writer and excellent speaker, that he was fifty years old. In his honor, they organized a party to mark this birthday. The celebration took place in the home of the man himself.

Y. Vajslic opened the gathering. He emphasized Kachan's role in the spiritual life of the Jewish community in Australia, and the great impression that his public appearances make on the Jewish public. He came from our area and, thanks to his talents, emerged as a speaker and writer in our community. In detail, B. Ezrowicz told of his first meeting with Member Kachan.

S. Bursztejn spoke in the name of the family, and told of the spiritual road that Y. Kachan had walked, from the town in Poland to his public activities in our community. He wished him many more years of productive work for the benefit of society here.

H. Bachrach discussed the ideological education that Y. Kachan had received at the Bund, his longing for studies and knowledge, and his conceptual and public backbone. To our regret, in our community, the situation does not fully exploit his literary talents. In a larger Jewish community, he would become a rare intellectual force, for the good of Yiddish culture in general.

Y. Gilicz stressed Y. Kachan's contribution to Jewish education as a good school teacher, where his language of instruction was Yiddish. The echoes of his speeches and classes, which were well prepared, still resound.

Finally, P. Albert presented the guest-of-honor with a beautiful gift on behalf of all those gathered – The History of Jewish Literature, in ten volumes, written by Y. Cinberg.

Very touched by the warm reception, Y. Kachan replied to the well-wishers with a spontaneous speech, full of inspiration. He pointed out the way he had gone, from the house of his father, the ritual slaughterer and

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Torah scholar, through Jewish socialism and Yiddish secular culture, to the present – where he was seeking to integrate the old way of life, which was disappearing, with modern life. When he stands before a community of Jews, he feels the same responsibility that our parents felt toward their nation and their faith. The sum of 80,000 liras was collected at this impressive evening for the Peretz and Shalom Aleichem Schools.

Yitzhak Kachan – The “Self Made Man”

Yitzhak Kachan came from Ostrolenka in Poland, one of the hundreds of cities and towns where there lived – and for the most part withered away – many Jewish creative powers. Poor conditions and an oldfashioned way of life caused a great number of intelligent young men to be deprived of the chance to develop their abilities; they were swallowed up by a life of poverty and the struggle for existence.

Yitzhak Kachan was the exception to the rule. Despite the difficult conditions of life in the small town, he acquired a great deal of knowledge and education through self-education, drawing from the rich sources of Jewish culture. The Bund served as a good school for people who wanted to acquire knowledge. In its ranks, they had the opportunity to learn about the social factors motivating our lives, about the distorted world order and ways to correct it.

Still a youth, Member Kachan went to Warsaw to participate in the young Bundists' cultural conference – Zukunft. There, he already expressed his talents as a speaker and writer. The height of their flowering, however, was reached in Melbourne, Australia.

As soon as he arrived, he began to publish articles in local Yiddish newspapers, and won the recognition and esteem of his readers in the city. Shy in nature, he signed his articles using a pen name and “masqueraded”, so that, for a long time, even his close friends did not know who was hiding behind the blessed pen.

Later, as a member of the editorial staff of the Unser Gedank newspaper, Member Kachan had a full, open chance to prove that his talents were not limited to the realm of literature alone. He also touched on political subjects – and with great success.

Yitzhak Kachan, the speaker, is a separate chapter. Not only friends and acquaintances, but political rivals do not hide their wonder at his appearances at assemblies marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, and at literary evenings. His deep knowledge of Judaic subjects, inherited from his father, the ritual slaughterer from Ostrolenka, added special Jewish charm to his lectures. He relates seriously to every speech he is invited to make and plans it like sacred work.

We are proud of our friend, Yitzhak Kachan, who grew up in our midst. Here he designed his spiritual world, which he can now pass on to others. For all this, we must state that, to a certain extent, the spiritual poverty of our community narrowed his opportunities. In a larger Jewish community, he would be able to completely utilize his deep knowledge in the field of Judaism – a most rare thing in our times. For that reason, his articles in Unser Gedank awoke a wide echo in the Jewish world outside Australia, and they often asked us: “Who is this Kachan?”…

H.B.(From the Yiddish press in Australia)


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