Lovers of Zion and the Zionist Movement
by Pinkhas Gal (Fogelman)
Translated by Janie Respitz
Lovers of Zion and Baron Rothschild
Radom belongs to the few cities in Poland where before the rise of political Zionism there already was a respected Lovers of Zion movement. This happened thanks to the two spirited, bright personalities: Rabbi Shmuel Mohliver and Yisroel Frenkel. They both brought a holiday feeling into Jewish life and national awareness. They planted a love and yearning for Zion and taught people to think that if Jews want to be a nation like all other nations they needed their own city. Their love of Zion was not only expressed in dreams and prayer, but also in practical deeds: organizing, agitating, awakening, appeals and collection of money. They did not only do this work in Radom, they did it all over the world. We must remember this was just the Genesis period, the first steps which led to political Zionism.
Their devoted coworkers and helpers were: Reb Mordkhai Vaysman, the librarian Adolf Tzuker, the teacher Yakov Potashnik, Palti Mushkatblit and the young Sholem Diament, who with his passionate speeches in the House of Study, synagogues and youth circles really transported his audience.
The main meeting place was Frenkel's Talmud Torah. This is where readings and lectures took place and where they discussed the daring thought of settling and colonizing the Land of Israel. Adolf Tzuker organized the collection of money for the Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel and was the treasurer. The young passionate Hershl Khvat later became the chairman of our Zionist organization.
The meetings would be attended by rich and poor, intellectual and simple people, pious and secular. One thing united them all: Love of Zion.
Having approached the authorities to legalize the Lovers of Zion Movement, their response came many years later. In a letter from Ussishkin to Yekhiel Frenkel from 1910 we read the government was allowing the opening of a branch in Radom of The Society to Support Farmers and Craftsmen in the Land of Israel
Many craftsmen and common folk later joined the Lovers of Zion. One who excelled among them was the master of children's shoes Reb Nosn Kestenberg, who from time to time travelled to the Land of Israel. Eventually he emigrated with his entire family and settled in the neighbourhood of Neve Tzedek near Jaffa where he continued making shoes. Reb Nosn Kestenberg died in 1938 and his children continued to run his workshop.
After Kestenberg the most active was the engraver and printer Reb Naftali Zvi Zhabner. He travelled to the land of Israel twice and together with Prof. Boris Shatz helped lay the foundation for the art school Bezalel in Jerusalem.
The third was Reb Rafael Davidzon, who left with his family to the Land of Israel where he founded the well known cork factory which still exists today.
All three are no longer alive but their work lives on in their own land and their children continue with their work.
The first to belong The Lovers of Zion in Radom were:
Shtruzman the watchmaker, Mikhal Hoppenheim the master machinist, Yenkl Fridman, Yekhiel Kamer and many others.
I already mentioned Hershl Khvat. Now let me tell you how our townsfolk would repeat his cry in the synagogue after the death of Dr. Herzl. He began his eulogy with a spasmodic cry and then wailed: Jews, a tragedy has occurred! Dr. Herzl died! all members of the Lovers of Zion gathered and sat Shiva (seven days of mourning).
Baron Rothschild and the Sons of Radom
The years Reb Shmuel Mohliver was rabbi in Radom were blessed for Radom's Jews. We were among the few Jewish communities in Poland from which dozens of families immigrated to the Land of Israel as members of Lovers of Zion.
Thanks to the grandiose colonization plans which Rabbi Mohliver worked out with his students and sent to Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Radom was engraved in the Baron's heart. The Baron referred to Reb Shmuel as the Radom Rabbi and he called the people he settled in the Land of Israel and supported Sons of Radom.
In the anniversary book 70 Years of Rishon Letzion. there is an exchange of letters between the Baron and the manager of the agricultural school in Mikve Yisrael, Mr. Hirsh. Here are some excerpts from those letters:
Paris, April 6th, 1883.
To the manager of the agricultural school in Mikve Yisrael, Mr. Hirsh:
about the immigrants in Jerusalem, it appears to me, instead of living off hand outs, it would be better for them to work. I ask you, if we can possibly co opt them with the people from Radom, and to find out where their skills lie. If the attempt will succeed, you can give them the land that will remain after distribution to those from Radom. We could do for them what we did for the students (The Bilu) from Rishon Letzion.
Meanwhile the Radom Rabbi came to me in order to understand what we must do to organize the misfortunate masses who must be sent to the Land of Israel. I told him I am ready to take upon myself ten men with the condition they are honest, hard working agricultural workers. I asked him not to send anyone until I could get the message to Mr. Neter in Jaffa who I wrote to immediately. However disregarding my instructions, the Radom rabbi sent these misfortunate to the Land of Israel. I only found out they were going once they were on their way and I could not oppose it.
You write that the expenditures (more or less) in the colony Ekron will cost 5,000 francs per family. This means: houses, plow field, cattle, donkeys, agricultural tools and the like in order to support them until the new crop. This is the maximum amount I calculated. In order to honour your request I authorized 2,000 francs be sent to the Radom Rabbi to be divided among the Radom families. I ask you to please inform them in my name.
Edmond de Rothschild
Paris, June 22nd, 1883.
To the manager Mr. Hirsh:
finally, I will ask of you to consider, together with Mr. H. Erlinger, the question of the students[Bilutzim], and figure out what solution we can find for them[those that want to marry]. I believe it would be good to connect them with the Radom colony. (He means Ekron, for which Rabbi Mohliver failed to meet).
Paris, August 17th, 1883.
pertaining to the people from Radom, I decided to buy land near Safed. However I have not received a reply from you about this. I received a telegram from the rabbi asking for money for the families. I am sending 1,000 francs through the Radom rabbi.
Edmond de Rothschild
Paris, February 8th, 1884.
Honourable Mr. Hirsh:
Mr. E. D. Rothschild asked Mr. Erlinger to thank you for your activity and interest in the fate of the Radom Jews. We sent you the following telegram this week: the people from Radom will arrive on an Austrian ship on December 10th. Please facilitate their disembarking.
Secretary Isidore Loeb
Baron Edmond Rothschild's love of the Radom rabbi and the Lovers of Zion from Radom was so strong, that when he addressed a letter to the manger of the school in Rishon Letzion, Mr. Yisrael Eitan, who came from Demblin, the Baron underlined: Demblin near Radom.
The Zionist Organization Organizes
After Herzl's death and the upheaval in Russia, despite the fact the Jewish street was carried away with revolutionary and cosmopolitan slogans, Zionism in Radom was awakened thanks to the national Jewish youth, whose ideal was old new land the Land of Israel. Because it was forbidden to carry out political activity, the Zionist work was concentrated openly within the cultural societies. For example in Ha Zamir the Zionists Mr. Kamer, Mr. Fridman, Mr. Shtroyzman and Mr. Khvat were very influential. However the most important Zionist activity was carried at small Zionist meetings.
For the first time there were elections for the 8th Zionist Congress. Reb Yekhiel Frenkel was elected as the delegate.
At that time the Zionist movement in Radom went beyond its narrow framework. They were no longer satisfied with selling shekels and collections on the eve of Yom Kippur for Jewish colonies. It was now becoming a broader political organization which ran educational work. They began to bring lecturers like the Zionist orator Nosn Brekher and the well known Rabbi Yitzkhak Nusboym whose passionate words in the large synagogue captured and excited even religious Jews.
Precisely in the fervent revolutionary days of 1905 Zionist youth circles were organized. Heading one group were Yekhiel Frenkel and Yehuda Groysfeld (now in Montreal). A second group was led by Leo Finkelshteyn, Pinkhas Fogelman and later Yitzkhak Veysbord and Moishe Zayfman. In the area around Skarshiv Street a youth group was organized under the leadership of Moishe Shoshani amd Yitzkhak Veysman. Three years later, just before the First World War all theses groups unified thanks to a visit by Yosef Shprintzak and Eliezer Shoykhat. Their visit was a great event for us and we will never forget those important days. Amazing! Seeing, listening to and shaking hands with Shprintzak and Shoykhat, the great organizers who accomplished so much, who themselves carried out what they preached to others through them we felt connected with those working the Land of Israel. Their resounding Hebrew enchanted us.
They visited us in the winter of 1911. They first met with three people and I am the only one left of the three to recount those great days. The other two have passed away: Yitzkhak Veysbord found his eternal rest in Afula and Moishe Zayfman in Rehovot.
The meeting took place in the attic of Sorele Soveh's house, at 12 Val Street. We were very careful that evening. We posted guards who were to give us a sign to let us know if anyone was spying on us. All the invited guests arrived alone, one at a time, but it was an impressive youth gathering. The only older member from the leadership of the Zionist movement to attend was Palti Mushkatblit.
Our revered guests illuminated for us all the problems in the Land of Israel and told us in detail about the working conditions, about the colonies and colonists and they especially pointed out the development of cooperative colonies Merchavia, Professor Oppenheimer's plan and the need for pioneers to come and build up the land. Excitedly we promised to organize an emigration and to sell the journal The Young Worker.
When Prof. Mushkatblit commented you can't rely on the talk of the youth our guests replied:
And where are your veterans? Bless the youth with their zest and initiative!
The meeting ended late in the evening. We accompanied our guests to their hotel through Synagogue Street. It was hard for us to part from them. We wanted to continue listening to their wonderful Hebrew in the Sephardic dialect which we had never heard before.
We decide out teacher Milman should introduce the Sephardic dialect in his evening courses.
The following day our joy was interrupted: when our beloved dear guests were taking a walk on the street they were suddenly arrested for no reason. It appeared, Eliezer Shoykhet's black cape, which captured everyone's attention, was perceive to be foreign revolutionary dress. It took a lot of effort and intervention from respected Radom people to free them. Meanwhile it was stipulated they leave town.
Veysbord, Zayfman and I took the risk and accompanied our guests to the train. Our promise, despite all the difficulties, was that we would organize an emigration of pioneers and we fulfilled out promise. The talk of the youth, which according to Palti Mushkatblit was not reliable, was transformed into deeds and became reality.
The First Group of Pioneers
Radom could be proud of its Zionist dreamers. Respected and established families left their hometown and emigrated. Among them were the Krulis (the blind Esther) and the Davidzon family. But this was an individual emigration. The first broad group of emigrants, with pioneering ideals was founded right after the visit of Shprintzak and Shoykhet. Those in this group were Yitzkhak Veysbord, Moishe Zayfman, Dov Zelker (murdered by Arabs in Haifa in during the events in 1921), Neyhoyz Ben Yehuda who settled in Kfar Malal and others. Also joining this group was the assimilationist Shtarker but he was disappointed in the Land of Israel and left for America.
A large banquet was organized for these people at the Zionist organization during Sukkot 1911.
The chairman Hershl Khvat gave a fiery speech, as usual, and wished our pioneers to use their courage and perseverance to set an example for others. Moved, they swore to be pioneers and heroes and nothing would frighten them. However in fact there were many obstacles not everyone could break through: parents stood firm, refusing to pay for the journey, and did everything to prevent their children from leaving. Only a small group, despite everything, succeeded in emigrating.
In the Land of Israel life was not at all easy. One needed the strength of iron and an iron will to bear the difficult conditions of working the land in the tropical climate as well as unemployment. Zayfman, with his silk blouses and long hair, who we called the Pope, worked in the colonies in the south. The passionate Veysbord had a confrontation with Arabs at the well in Merchavia. None of this disturbed future immigration. Yosef Kuperberg-Nechushtan, jumped onto a cargo wagon without a penny in his pocket, made it to Odessa, snuck onto a ship and came to the Land of Israel. Dovid Grushkevitch also arrived this way. He later served in the Jewish Legion. After them Nokhem Plotzky and Shmuel Morgolis also ran away to the Land of Israel. Their departure caused a sensation in Radom. It was a huge disgrace for the parents who were very religious Hasidim. It was said they went to Lodz on business and if they did go the Land of Israel these heretics will be brought back by police!
Other parents tried everything to bring their sons home from the Land of Israel. They wrote letters saying that if they did not return and present themselves for conscription they would have to pay a large fine. They would also send telegrams saying someone in the family was gravely ill and so on.
Veysbord and Zayfman actually returned to see their parents. Meanwhile the First World War broke out. When the war was in full swing Margolis and Poltzky returned. Those who returned brought their love for the Land of Israel with them including the songs and dances of the pioneers which ignited fresh excitement among the Zionist youth and awakened a longing for our own land.
As leading members of the Zionist youth movement before the First World War, Veysbord, Zayfman and I were occupied with illegal activity in Radom and far beyond our city.
The head office of the Jewish National Fund in Keln[Chelm?] sent a representative who gave us the task to print Zionist propaganda literature in Radom and send it to cities and towns throughout Poland as well as Russia. Given that these were illegal goods, it had to be sent in the form of packages of leather and footwear. This fate fell upon Radom which was a centre of the leather industry so the sent packages would not be conspicuous.
We connected with the printing house of the well known Zionist activist in Drilzh, Reb Motl Grosfeld, who gladly took upon himself the full responsibility for this work. He consciously took the risk putting himself in danger of arrest and the possible closing of his printing house. Grosfeld's son Moishe Shadmi was very helpful. He died this year in Jerusalem.
On cold winter nights Itche Veysbord and I would travel from Radom to Drilzh, dressed in peasant fur lined coats, like contrabandists, border smugglers. Truth be told, we were really smugglers. At that time, smugglers were pragmatic, looking to earn some money. We smuggled goods which were to provide Jews all over the world with moral, national liberation. This work continued regularly for a long time, without interruptions, however one time there was a problem. This did not happen to us, but somewhere on the Polish border, during a check, engraving plates to print our literature were discovered. This kosher package was addressed to Yekhiel Frenkel and of course, they immediately called him to an investigation. This cost us a lot of money, nerves and angst until the matter was straightened out.
Now we had to find new ways to receive
the engraving plates from abroad, just like we always had to find ways to distribute our goods throughout the Jewish world.
Once again in Drilzh, the entire town knew what work Grosfeld's printing house was busy with day and night. The police superintendent became a regular guest and we had to pay him monthly to remain silent. Besides the policeman, there were other pests who we had to bribe. Everyone drew money but meanwhile the printing house continued to work and our smuggling continued until
The First World War broke out. In 1915 when we were in Rostov, Taganarog and other cities in the northern Caucuses, I saw how useful our work was. The people whose addresses we sent our packages to greeted me warmly. I spent a year in these cities with those people, and despite the war, we carried out active Zionist work.
I was in contact with the regional Zionist representative, headed by Madam Idelson from Taganorog.
The head office of the Jewish National Fund in Keln[Chelm?] expressed the highest recognition for work.
by Moshe Shadmi (Grosfeld)
Translated by Janie Respitz
If I am not mistaken this was in 1912. Itche Veysbord from Radom came to our printing house in the name of the Zionist executive and made a proposal that smelled of conspiracy: we should print Zionist propaganda literature.
This meant: doing illegal work. Printing Zionist propaganda was strictly forbidden and it would have to be done secretly. We knew if we would be caught they would close our printing house, we would be subject to heavy fines and the main thing, we would be arrested. But when the Zionist executive requested this from us, how could we refuse? We discussed it for along time before we decided to take the risk and take on this responsible work.
Technically this proved to be difficult. This was an undertaking which involved great efforts. Our printing house was small in accordance to the needs of a small provincial town. And now, we had to print hundreds of thousands of copies.
We had no choice but to work day and night, in three shifts. This opened the eyes of our town wide: the printing house is working day and night! What does this mean? ...One neighbour after the other began to stick their nose in and soon the whole town knew what we were doing, although it had to remain a secret.
When people opened their eyes they also opened their mouths and we had to shut everyone up we had to cope with the situation and continue with our work. Every week we sent boxes of printed material to Radom and from there it was expedited by train as packages of leather and shoes throughout Poland and beyond. These were the true shoes which were not meant for feet, but for minds and hearts
One day the town gendarme came into the print shop. He looked around, found an appeal in Russian, put it in his pocket and left.
We were petrified. Everything was falling from our hands. However my father held it together. He washed up, got dressed, went after the gendarme and invited him to a restaurant. Father ordered a nice meal and the gendarme ate and drank with a hearty appetite. Father felt he was on the right path However after drinking, the gendarme did not lose his head. Not only did he not give back the appeal, he picked up the bill for the entire meal!... What did this mean?
Mr. Grosfeld, you have nothing to fear he calmed my father. I'm taking it to my wife she reads Russian it will be interesting for her.It turned out, the gendarme's wife actually read the appeal and found something about it interesting they invited my father for a glass of tea. My father
took 25 ruble with him, and while spending time there, he placed it under the tablecloth to make it very interesting for them
Nevertheless, may I advise you to stop this work the gendarme advised in a friendly manner. With me you can be sure, but who know who can arrive unexpectedly We did not accept his friendly advice and we continued with our work until
One of the boxes of leather burst open at a Russian train station and instead of leather, leaflets poured out
Meanwhile the printing house was stopped. We expected serious consequences but the First World War broke out and all communal activity was interrupted.
by Moishe Rotenberg
Translated by Janie Respitz
The activities of the Zionist organization before World War One have already been told in this book.
During the Austrian occupation spontaneous Zionist activity began which included all levels of society in Radom.
All the Zionist leanings and groups were concentrated around the General Zionist Organization which existed under the name Kultura. It had a large premise (2 stories) at 14 Warsaw Street.
Open, legal Zionist activity only began after the war.
The spiritual foundation was laid by the older Zionists headed by Yekhiel Frenkel, Paltiel Mushkatblit, Sholem Diament and Peretz Bushatzky. Then younger ones joined like Pinkhas Fogelman (Gal), Avrom Zelitzky, Goldfarb (Shoshani) and Berl Diament who brought order and built the framework of the organization.
Besides those mentioned above, the following were active on Zionist committees: Khaim Virgin, Yisroel Lesht, Pinkhas Ginzburg, Leybl Mayzels, Yenkl Fridman, Mordkhai Leyb Fishman, Yosef Korman (Dagani), Tuviyia Rutman, Yerakhmiel Kirshenboym (observer), Moishe Heltzman, Naomi Birnboym, Rishl Ornshteyn, Feyge Rutman, who have all passed away. Those that are living today in Israel: Moishe Bakman, Moishe Rotenberg, Brayndl Diament, Yokheved Naydik, Rokhl Landau, Dvoyre Banker (Grushkevitch), Rokhl Khmielazh (Austarlia) and Gavrioel Ayzman (America).
The women founded a Daughter's of Zion organization which had special tasks.
The large beautiful space attracted the attention of the Polish authorities and they requisitioned it for military purposes. So the Zionist organization was forced to look for a new premises and moved to 25 Zheromsky Street, where it remained active until the Holocaust.
Independent by the amount of registered members, the entire Zionist social and political activity was concentrated in the General Zionist Organization. They elected and delegated the largest amount of representatives to all the institutions and delegates to the Zionist congresses (Frenkel, Salbeh and Rotenberg). Due to various legalization issues, some Zionists groups carried out their work in the name of the General Zionist Organization. These were the committees of The Jewish Agency, The Jewish National Fund, the Palestine Office, the sale of Shekels, and the patronage of pioneering Kibbutzim.
Every new organization, even Betar, before it was officially legalized, began its activity at the locale of the General Zionist Organization including WIZO and the Zionist Bank, before it was possible for it to have its own place.
This locale housed the largest library (named for Yitzkhak Grinboym), the Hebrew evening courses, the Zionist prayer quorum, where they prayed on the Sabbath and holidays, continuing the tradition from the days of Reb Yisreol Frenkel. And, of course, lectures were arranged, live newspapers, discussion groups and other cultural events took place there.
When the General Zionist Organization in Poland split and the group dt Levanot was created, and later the so called World Union, Radom also switched to the World Union with a substantial amount of general Zionists. They rented their own location at 55 Trauguta Street.
They organized a club where they held lectures and other events.
Despite the programs regarding practical Zionist work both sides of the general Zionists shared in political and social matters.
In group A:
Shmule Tzuker, Rafael Holtzkener, Yudl Koyfman, Elimeylekh Fishman, Yenkl Hofman, Shmuel Beyglman, Yakov Fridman, Yerakhmiel Kirshnboym (obserever), Zvi Zaydman, Menkhem Lfshitz (all killed); Yishayahu Ayger (died in America) and Moishe Rotenberg.
In group B (World Union):
Moishe Luksenberg, Mordkhai Leyb Fishman, Meir Granek, Alter Golembiovsky, Dovid Blatman (all killed). Yoyneh Kirshenboym (Berlin), and the club manager Ruven Ziskind.
Dr. Moshkovsky, Felitzia Hurvitch, Menela, Bar, Honigman, Y. Vaysbord, Kh. Rozenberg, H. Gotlib, L. Veynberg, Rozenshteyn, Veyngart, P. Grin, A. Koyfman, Kodentchik (all killed); the chairwoman was Olga Levin and Rokhl Landau both live in Israel; Bayle Khmielarzh is in Australia.
(Newspaper notes from 1938)
A committee was formed to carry out the assignment to found a Tarbut School. The committee was comprised of: Mrs. Olga Levin, Shmuel Tzuker, Mrs. Khmielarzh, Moishe Veysman, Shmuel Beyglman, Menakhem Kodentchik, Dr. Moshkovsky, and M.M. Margolis.
The cultural commission of the Zionist organization which joined the Bible Study Holiday arranged a bible lecture by M.Y. Hell.
The opening of The Land of Israel Jubilee Bazar was attended by the chairman of the Zionist Organization of Poland, Dr. M. Kleynboym. The artistic evening was run by our youth organizations Hashomer Hatzair, Masada, Akiva and Young WIZO.
(Published in The Jewish Nation, September 5th, 1918)
Translated by Janie Respitz
It is not unjustified that Radom is included among the Zionist Fortresses of the Austrian occupation. The Radom organization, in a short time, acquired a reputation in the surrounding province and grabbed first place from the capitol city Lublin. It is difficult to explain the phenomenon, but it is a fact we must take into consideration when we consider the plan of creating a centre for the whole occupied area.
In truth, political activity was still alive in Radom after the crisis. The elections to city council took place in the past when the Zionist movement was just beginning to develop. However Radom took on this work energetically. Thanks to the initiative of the Zionist committee a general attack was prepared against the assimilationist representatives on the city council who totally ignored their Jewish voters and came out against Jewish national rights.
The Zionists mobilized all communal forces in order to compel the councilmen to deliver an open report about their activities until this time on city council. If the assimilationists will offer excuses for this unacceptable mission, they will be isolated by the Zionists and nationalist craftsmen who had decided: through an open meeting to bring forth resolutions that the assimilationist councilmen have no right to speak on behalf of the Jewish population. One can be sure, this campaign will have large educational impact for the broad Jewish masses, and at the upcoming elections to city council the assimilationist ring leaders while not find any supporters.
The strong Zionist atmosphere greatly effected the orthodox youth. The speeches made by the Gombin rabbi in the Radom Synagogue gave impetus to the hesitating elements from orthodox circles. It can be said that Rabbi Zlotnik's appearance was an epoch-making event in Radom.
The women's organization in Radom proved to be very active and energetic. These young women Zionists founded a school for poor girls. They offered Yiddish as a subject disregarding the program from the Warsaw curators.
The women realized Jewish girls had to learn to read and write Yiddish. The protests by the
extreme Hebraists who protested against the Yiddishists did not help. We must stress the intelligent Zionist girls learned Hebrew with great love as the language of their forefathers substituted French. The positive attitude toward Yiddish did not weaken their excitement for Hebrew at all. This is a very characteristic phenomenon in the province that did not play with theories, but looked at real life situations.
Where is it written that Radom has to learn from Warsaw? Perhaps this time, Warsaw can look at Radom as an example
The Jewish People. From October 31st, 1918.The present responsible moment in the life of Polish Jewry found a lively echo in the local Zionist organization which is wide spread and directs the entire political life. This moment did not occur in the Zionist organization without preparation.
The last political event in Poland, and in general Jewish politics were the issues of the moment. A political stand was taken at the outstanding meeting of the Zionist organization on October 19th.
After the speech given by Mr. Fogelman, other members, Miller, Rozentveyg, Millman and others came forth. They characterized the scene of the Jewish diaspora where the Levenshteyns appear in the name of the Jewish population against nationalist interests.
The following resolutions were accepted:
Taking into consideration, at this moment in time, the fate of the Jewish people will be decided and to affirm the solid will of the Jewish masses is dependent on the fate of millions of Polish Jews and the future of the Jewish people, we are turning to the Jewish community of Radom, to take an example from other Polish cities, gather all powers for national unity, and for that purpose, create a unified national representation of all Jewish political organizations, cultural institutions and professional unions. We are expressing our convictions that an appropriate national representation whose will should express that the two thousand year injustice imposed on the Jewish people must be corrected: we should be permitted to organize our national life in the Land of Israel and free national development everywhere where Jews live in compact masses.A general enthusiasm and the singing of Hatikva complemented this manifestation.
A similar resolution was also accepted at a meeting of Jewish students. After meetings took place at the Labour Zionists and the Bund. Soon there will be a mass meeting for the entire Jewish population which will be organized by the Zionist organization and will be dedicated to the founding of a national council.
The Meeting for the Colony Named for Dr. Yekhiel Tchlenov in the Land of Israel
Rabbi Zlotnik gave lectures in Radom: one, on Sunday in the synagogue, and the second, Monday, in a hall. On the spot, 10 thousand kronen were raised. There were those who contributed 1 thousand marks and I thousand kronen. The hope was to raise no less than one hundred thousand kronen in Radom.
The mood was uplifting, most of all when the women and girls removed their jewellery and donated it to the Tchlenov fund.
The following was donated on the spot: Hersh Boyman a gold pen; Yosef Korman a gold Star of David, Tuviye Rotman a silver cigarette case, Khane Veynrib (in memory of her late sister Tema) a string of coral, Bineh Rotnberg a gold ring, Yakov Veyngart a silver ring and a Star of David, Noymi Birnboym silver earings, Yokheved Nayduk a gold ring with a Star of David and a medallion, Breyndl Diament gold earrings with stones, Shifra Kompel a gold chain with a medallion, Perl Fishman a gold ring, Bayle Hinde Fishman a gold ring, Yitzkhak Shrek a gold ring, Zvi Grushkevitch a gold Star of David, Khane Zilberberg a gold ring with a red stone, Mrs. Shrek a gold ring, Yerakhmiel Fishman a gold ring with a Star of David, Soreh Akerman a gold ring, Yehuda Danziger a watch chain, Yisroel Kestenberg three silver kronen, Mrs. Malkeh Feldman a gold ring with 2 stones, Kh. Nayman a silver Star of David, Zviya Medalyon silver earrings, Khaneh Tzunz a gold ring and 10 kronen.
The Jewish People Warsaw, August 22nd, 1918.
by Moshe Shoshani / Gnigar
Translated by Janie Respitz
I spent my early childhood years in the Polish forests where my parent's house stood. It was a Hasidic Maskilic (Enlightened) house, with holy books as well as Zionist writings. My father wrote the poem Al Em Haderekh (On the Road) on the title page of the Gemara I studied from. I knew Yosifun and Memories From the House of David as well as the historic elements of the bible. I remember the day my father came home crying and told us Dr. Herzl died. He sat Shiva for half an hour and told us about this great Jew who stood before kings and governments demanding they return the Land of Israel to the Jews…
From that day on Zion became my passion and my dream.
My father died young. Our orphaned family sold his forest business and moved to Radom where Bunim the ritual slaughterer's grandchildren lived, our relatives and friends. I made friends with people my age with whom I enjoyed myself and discussed the Jewish national revival and Zionism. I was 15-16 years old and the Beylis trial affected me greatly. Every day we waited at Naydik's book shop for the newspapers that were brought from the train. We read about the Turkish Balkan war, the Beylis trial and blood libels in anti Semitic Tsarist Russia.
Some of the youth joined the secret socialist organizations, but many were not confident in the fairness of the stranger and thought about the Land of Israel. But how does one get there? The borders were closed and the Turks frowned upon Jewish inhabitants. There was no active Zionist organization in our city and we did not know any Zionist leaders who could guide us and answer our questions. The Zionist organization was illegal. We could be thrown in jail just for having a Shekel or a stamp from the Jewish National Fund.
We knew there was a Zionist synagogue where they collected money of the eve of Yom Kippur for the Land of Israel and on Simkha Torah sang Zionist songs. However, there was no contact between the adults and the youth. We decided to take the initiative in our own hands and we organized and founded the organization Kadima.
Our organization had barely 50 members. The majority were working class youth. We carried out educational and information work and our members evolved into conscientious people. Our activity was illegal and we could not have a regular meeting place. In the summer we would meet under the open sky in a garden. Every Saturday we would meet behind the town at the second or third borough on the train line Radom Demblin and from there we would go to a dense forest where we would listen to lectures and have discussions. We would read the Zionist pamphlets published legally by the committee in Odessa, The Kopek Library which roused in us many questions which our informed members would answer. We also organized Hebrew courses where one taught the other and this is how we also learned Yiddish and Hebrew songs.
On rainy days in autumn and during the winter we gathered at 5 Novograduka, at the Rotman's boot making shop. His brother Yekhezkl was one of our active members. These meetings were clandestine and we had to place guards out on the quiet street.
When Turkey lost the war some of our members began to prepare, against the will of their parents and families, for their trip to the Land of Israel. The youth of the left wing movements laughed and made fun of us:
Turkish socialists from a dead land!…even our good Zionist friends advised us to wait.
The first swallow of Kadima was our devoted member Yosef Kuperberg whose name today is Nechustan. His letters from the Land of Israel, from the Jewish colonies, and his photographs as a guard in the vineyards in Judea, were passed from hand to hand and mad a great impression. At that time one of those that left was the young and talented Yosef Tzuker. He wrote to us that he was studying at Bezalel Art School; Dov Zelker, Dovid Grushkievitch and Nayhoyz went as well. At their departure banquet we took a photograph. This is the only photograph we have of Kadima from those years.
Not all members of Kadima had the honour of emigrating, and many were killed in the Holocaust. Let us remember a few of those members: Yekhezkl Rotman, Yakov Koloditsky, Ruven Psheruber and Kalman Grosfeld, of blessed memory.
When I arrived in the country with the group 105, on Passover, 1919, we were greeted by our members who had been there since before the First World War. They were wearing uniforms of the Jewish Legion from the Allenby Army which chased out the Turks from the Land of Israel.
Kadima existed until 1915 and for many young people was the source of national and Zionist awakening.
The following members of Kadima are now living in Israel: Yosef Nechushtan, Avram Fridman, Yehuda Tzuker, Grushkievitch, Nayhoyz, Eli Veysman, and the author of these lines.
Lipeh Rubman is active in our townsmen society in America. Avigdor Bakman, Moishe Ayzman and others also live there.
During the First World War
Jewish life was chaotic during the first year of the war. The Russian military authority bullied the Jewish population, invented blood libels, made arrests, exiled and carried out death sentences with and without trials. Communication was stopped and you could not leave town without special permission. Military duties were taken away. Business was dead. Unemployment was great and the price of food was driven up. We heard the thunder of cannons in the city and long caravans of peasant wagons regularly brought the wounded to town. The horror did not quiet the hunger and suffering and despair grew. Finally, after a few months of fighting, the Austro Hungarian military took over our city and remained until the end of the war.
The city revived. Factories and workshops were once again working in full steam. Old enterprises grew and expanded as new ones were create. The train workshops employed thousands of workers and employees. The military authority treated the population with tolerance, Jews and Poles. Business was booming and there was no shortage of income.
The occupying power did not disturb cultural life and permitted the creation of cultural clubs and organizations. This is when the Zionist organization began its activity under the name Kultura. Activity resumed in the Poalei Zion (Labour Zionists), Mizrachi (religious Zionists), Young Mizrachi and others. They were all in contact with their central committees in Warsaw, Galicia and Vienna. There was a lot of Zionist activity and many Jewish officers in the Austrian army helped to arrange formalities and to receive printing materials and everything else that may have been lacking.
At that time I was a clerk at the train administration. When I was preparing something fro the chief manager he noticed, among my documents, my membership in the Zionist organization. The chief, engineer Eyzler, was radiant, shook my hand and began speaking to me in Hebrew…he told me he was also a Zionist and a member of the Zionist organization in Vienna. He had no idea we also had a Zionist organization and he began showing interest and asking about our activities.
I invited him to Kultura. Although as a official military person he was not permitted to participate in communal events in the occupied region, he accepted my invitation and promised his help.
The following were active on the Radom Zionist committee:
Chairman Khaim Veergin (who came to Israel with the fourth Aliyah), Berl Diament (who came with the third Aliyah), Yakov Fridman (all three died in Israel); Goldfarb Zahavi, Moishe Shoshani (Roznzveyg), from the third Aliyah; Pinkhas Fogelman (Gal), Moishe Luxenburg, M.L. Fishman, the old learned Peretz Bushatzky (in Israel). Frenkel who succeeded Veergin was chairman of the Zionist organization for many years and later headed the Radom Society in Israel.
In those years, school children were very active. There were 600 members in Hashomer who studied Hebrew and created branches in all the cities of Austrian occupied Poland. By the last year of the war Hashomer had around 6000 members. In Radom it was led by Khaim Ben Menakhem (Roznzveyg), Zvi Vardi, Khane Vaysman, Ben Zion Hokhberg, Shoshana Mushkatblit and others.
The parades of Hashomer Hatzair through the city made a great impression, not only on the Jews but the Christian population as well, who saw in them a future Jewish army…
The announcement of the Balfour Declaration brought a wave of excitement. People were kissing in the streets. Large meeting were organized and a Redemption Fund was created where Jews gladly donated gold and silver and other valuable items. A rumour spread that everyone was registering to emigrate and Jews from the entire region came to register and pay for their trip expenses…
But the war dragged on until 1918 and there was no route for Aliyah.
At that time a group of 105 set out on this dangerous journey including 65 people from Radom. This group opened the third Aliyah and after much wandering and suffering arrived in the land of Israel during Passover in 1919.
Many of the 105 participated in the Hagana, in national and economic undertakings and were the founders of Bet Alfa, Gnigar, Mishmar Ha Emek, Ramat Yochanan, Yagur, Kfar Malal, and other early Kibbutzim and Moshavs in the Land of Israel.
by David Tzadkani (Rekhtman)
Translated by Janie Respitz
The First Family Emigration
In the history immigration to the Land of Israel (Aliyah) Radom holds a respectable spot, beginning with the BILU. Unfortunately we do not know exactly who were the Ten that Rabbi Mohliver interceded for and the Baron agreed to the help settle in the Land of Israel. We only know, the Veergin family immigrated at that time as well as other families.
The Krol and Davidzon families went with the Second Aliyah. On the eve of the First World War an organized group of pioneers left including Veysbord, Zayfman, Zelker, Kuperberg (Nechushtan), Nayhoyz.
Radom played an important role in the Third Aliyah with the largest representation in the group of 105.
However the largest amount of immigrations from Radom were in the Fourth and Fifth.
Many Jews from Radom, mainly Holocaust survivors came after the Second World War, and until today, people from our city arrive here from Poland, Russia and other European countries.
The Lithuanian Commune
Refugees from Russia had a large influence on the Aliyah movement in Radom at the beginning of the First World War. They came from the Minsk region and started evening Hebrew courses and gave private lessons. There were eleven of them including the Briskman brothers, Yakov Bogin and Nokhem Hokhman. They were called the Lithuanian Commune because they spoke a Lithuanian Yiddish, lived together and ran a workshop together. A few of them were teachers in the surrounding towns and their educational influence was impressive.
They founded a committee in town that took care of refugees from Russia. Those who excelled in hospitality were: Arkeh Levin, the teacher Tinovitsky and the cantor and choir master Dormashkin.
The entire Lithuanian Commune immigrated with the Third Aliyah.
by Moishe Pomrok
Translated by Janie Respitz
40 years have gone by since I left my hometown and my parent's house, and said goodbye to friends and acquaintances, to every tree in our beautiful city garden, knowing I will never see them again.
This was the winter of 1918, at the spring epoch of nations which also spoke to the many efforts of the Jewish people with the consolation of the Balfour Declaration. The enthusiastic youth no longer had patience to even finish their school year. 17-18 year olds were organizing immigration groups.
Poland's new independence influenced us. We, the Jewish youth participated in Poland's fight for independence defending train lines and government buildings with guns. Why should we not fight for our own free fatherland?
We were a group of 25 ready to go. The Kultura organized a farewell evening for us and a representative from the Zionist organization gave a speech. I said goodbye to relatives and friends. When the time came to say goodbye to my mother, may she rest in peace, she cried to me: two of my sons have remained in Russia and now are leaving me? So young? Who knows if we will ever see each other again?
My sisters also burst into tears and my relatives decided to try to stop me from taking this step. I did not leave my house for three days and did not eat anything until my mother conceded:
I will always mourn your departure. Let's hope we will see each other again! And then she added quietly:
Who knows? Maybe he will have good luck and find his true match?
My father of blessed memory was a Zionist. He too did not want to part with me and did not want to agree to my immigration, but after my mother agreed, he gave me his blessing.
I went out to the street and met my friends who experienced the same painful struggle with their parents as I did.
I learned that some already left, but new ones were joining. We were now 14.
We left on January 31st, 1916. (Translator's note: I believe this is and error and it was 1918). My parents, sister and brother in law accompanied me to the third train station. There were a lot of Jews at the Radom train station who came to see us off. When the train began to move, I saw my father cry for the first time in my life.
We left without passports and were stopped at the Austrian border. We turned to Dr. Yehoshua Tohn in Krakow who got permits for us and we continued to Vienna. The city enchanted us. We took long walks and visited Herzl's grave. After a week of trying we received travel permits from the Spanish consulate. On our way to Fiume[now called Rijeka] we stopped in Zagreb were we were warmly received by the local Jews. We met up with our entire group in Fiume that had left before us. Mr. Landau took interest in us and told us many pioneers from Poland were waiting in Italy. We went to the port every day to find a ship leaving for the Land of Israel.
Meanwhile, one of our friends got sick with typhus and we were all confined in a hospital. From there they sent us to Muggia near Trieste to a prisoner of war camp. They treated us well and fed us well. After three weeks in the camp they brought us to Trieste to a fortress with two thousand prisoners of war. We thought we were really lost and planned our escape. However, we were freed the next day.
The representative of the Zionist organization in Trieste was Mr. Dlugatch who offered to pay our expenses to return to Poland as the sea was mined and it was not possible to sail to the Land of Israel, unless we wanted to go to Africa and wait for the gates to open to the Land of Israel.
We did not accept his offer and looked for a solution. One day we met a young guy with a cap from a Polish university. He too belonged to a group of pioneers who were in Rome waiting for a ship. We left immediately for Rome where we met Dr. Blovshteyn and Moishe Beilinson. They were interested in helping us. Rabbi Dantelates helped us as well and thanks to him we received help from the Italian government. We were given work in a Jewish vineyard which was good training for us.
M. M. Ussishkin was in Rome at that time on his way to a peace conference. We turned to him to get us a permit to travel to the Land of Israel. The group that was in Rome before us received permits and for us it resulted in money…
It reached such a situation that we had to send Deutch and Raykhman back to Radom and Katz to Zgierz to get money from our parents. Except for a small room for the sick and weak, the rest of slept in gardens and at the train station. The danger was we would not have enough money for our trip.
Two months later our messengers returned with a bit of money from our parents. They were afraid to go to Poland fearing they may be arrested, so they went to Vienna and wrote home from there…
Finally Rabbi Dantelates gave us the following news: he received a telegram from Nohum Sokolow saying that we would be able to travel soon. At the peace conference they spoke about the pioneers who were wandering and knocking on the doors of the Land of Israel.
In a better mood we began to walk around the city and visit the sights: we went to the Vatican, the coliseum, the San Petra Church, the Forum etc… A week later we received a travel permit for Egypt where we went at the expense of the Italian government.
See Naples and die we remembered as we arrived in Naples. In our great joy knowing we were going to the Land of Israel we changed the phrase to see Naples and live in order to go to the Land of Israel…a Jewish dentist that escaped from Russia in 1905 took care of us. We embarked on the ship Sardinia. A military orchestra played in our honour and we sailed off to Egypt.
We were received in Alexandria by the Pro Palestine Society, headed by Baron Mensashe. Meanwhile, unrest broke out in Egypt and we could not receive our travel permits. We had to wait there for two more months. We wrote letters to Hapoel Hatzair in Tel Aviv and received a reply from Eda Fishman. This was our first contact with the country and the movement.
Meanwhile Judge Brandeis and Dov Hoz arrived in Alexandria. They received our delegation kindly and promised to get us the Land of Israel as soon as possible. Baron de Menashe was also good to us and promised to help. They really did help
and a few days later we were on the train from Egypt to Lod…
After eight months of wandering we finally arrived. From Lod we went to Jaffa where we were welcomed by the Hapoel Hatzair. They took us to a hotel where we rested. Later, they brought us to the club where we gave Apter our flag. This is how we became members of Hapoel Hatzair.
The next morning active members came to decide where to send us.
Until today we remember the kind attitude and love shown to us by the leaders of Hapoel Hatzair.The following worried about us as if we were family: Yosef Shprinzak, Eda Fishman, Y. Apter, Zvi Lieberman, Zvi Yehuda and Levi Shkolnik, helping us take our first steps on the soil of our own land.
by Arnold Rozenfeld
Translated by Janie Respitz
The journey of Group 105 as we know took half a year. They left Poland for Austria, left Austria for Italy. Is Egypt a dog? They made it to the Land of Israel through Egypt and in order to capture the true feeling of the Land of Israel we had to, like our forefathers, experience an exodus from Egypt. However, instead of wandering in the desert for 40 years, we spent half a year wandering through Europe. No manna fell from heaven nor partridges, and we honourably endured hunger, suffering, cold and other good things. One encouraged and strengthened the other. I do not want to recount our heroism here, rather our weaknesses. Perhaps because we remember foolishness the following episodes and curiosities have stayed with me:
On dry land, our friend Nosn Zilbershteyn, who we called Blond Nosn was far from being a fearful guy. In fact he was quite a courageous globe trotter. But on water, he was no longer a hero. If today he is the costume designer Natan Caspi for Habimah Theatre in Tel Aviv, may he continue to do this for many years, it is because the seas in the scenery are neither deep not wet…
We wandered through the port city of Trieste. From the treasures we brought from home all we had left were holes in our pockets. However, we had no time to worry or grieve. It was better to have torn pockets than torn hearts. We were young and wanted to have a good time. There are small pleasures for a lot of money and great pleasures for a little bit of money. We of course, chose the second. For our great enjoyment we went sailing in the sea. We did the math. The more friends you take into your boat the less it costs each one, we packed in so many that it hardly cost us anything…
After sailing out a bit we saw Blond Nosn looking desperate. What is it Nosn?
Friends! Back to shore he ordered.
Being clowns and seeing how scared he was we began to shake and rock the boat as we sailed further out to sea. We were laughing and fooling around. But Nosn's fear only increased and he pleaded:
Guys, to shore…I'll pay for the boat, for the entire time we were out, as long as we return to shore. I want to get out of here …
Our great fun was very cheap as Nosn paid for everyone. He payed with fear and money for our sailing…
An inclination toward something develops in ones earliest years. Maybe we are even born with it. Some are inclined to play music, another to write poetry, while others are inclined to receive a salary.
For many years Pinkhas Rozenberg had been working as an inspector for the municipality of Haifa. This means, he is an important administrator who earns a salary. However, we noticed his inclination when he wandered with us in the Group of 105. In those years he was a tall, strong guy, like an oak tree. However due to
the wandering, he grew thinner and appeared even taller.
We experienced great difficulties while in Italy. The government took interest in us. Apparently, they sympathised with the pioneers headed to the Land of Israel and helped us. So we would not die of hunger in Italy, the government gave us 2 liras a day, enough not to die, but not enough to live on. In order to save money we slept two to a bed and shared our bread. Nevertheless we ate three times a day: breakfast, bread with mandarins, lunch, mandarins and bread and supper, bread with mandarins. No one was terribly satisfied, but Pinkhas was particularly hungry.
One day we saw him run to city hall where we all received our 2 liras.
Pinkhas, why are you running like that?
What do you mean he asked in amazement, I'm running to get my salary.
When we heard him say salary, we all burst out laughing, and continued laughing all day and night.
Who among us would have remembered that Pinkhas' last name was Rozenberg? From that day on we always referred to him as Pinkhas Salary.
Even today, when friends from the Group of 105 get together, no one asks about Pinkhas Rozenberg, they only ask:
by Yekhiel Ben Yakov (Golembyovsky)
Translated by Janie Respitz
Before the First World War many of our people were enraptured by Zionism but only individuals immigrated.
After the October Revolution and the Balfour Declaration many our nationally inclined youth decided not to wait any longer. With or without permits and taking all routes and detours they decided to immigrate.
Those who were candidates to immigrate gathered at the Golembyovsky home (7 Zgodna) where they made a commitment and signed up to join a group that would live and work together in our own land.
At the beginning of December 1918 the first group of 13 departed. Their parents accompanied them to the train station late at night. They travelled with prisoners of war from all fronts to Vienna. After great difficulties and adventures they arrived in Trieste. The following were in this group: Khaim Rozenzveyg (Ben-Menakhem), Ben-Zion Hokhboym, Goldblat, Tzvi Roznblum (Vardi), Khaim Roznfeld (Vardi), Vaysman, Nosn Zilbershteyn (Caspi), L. Zilbershlag, Tzemakh, Tzimerman, Rozenberg and Fligelman who died in Yavniel in 1920.
The group met up with other groups from Poland in Trieste, and together they numbered 63. They exerted pressure on the local Zionist representative, Mr. Dlugatch and on the local head rabbi, Rabbi Dantelates to go to Rome to expedite their immigration.
There were 42 pioneers wandering around Rome and Naples who arrived earlier from Poland and were awaiting a miracle…all together there were 105 which came to be the historically known Group of 105 which was the first group of the third Aliyah to arrive after the First World War.
While in Rome they learned the Mediterranean Sea was mined and only battle ships could sail there. They were forced to remain in Italy for two whole months. They lived off agricultural work and spent their free time learning Hebrew. Later, the group had to split up and sail on two ships from Naples to Alexandria. There they once again waited a month until they boarded a train which transported military to Kunetra. They arrived in the land during Passover 1919…
Here, the Group of 105 spread out with all the other groups throughout the Land of Israel, from Kastina in the south to Kfar Giladi in the north. The majority left to work the land.
Some individuals remained in the cities Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. Some worked for the trains.
After this other groups arrived from Radom who later held important positions in the life of the Land of Israel. Jews from Radom were among the founders of the first Kibbutzim in the Jezreel Valley and near the Sea of Galilee.
This is when Degania Bet was established. Among the members were Moshe Shoshani and the writer of these lines. Shoshani later left to establish Kibbutz Gnigar and I went left to join a work force named for Yosef Trumpeldor and from there I went to Gan Shmuel.
Some Jews from Radom worked on the highways. Some, who had to leave their studies at home wanted to continue and tried to get accepted to the Herzliya Gymnasia. Many Jews from Radom participated in defending the land during the events of 1920 -1921, particularly in Jerusalem and the Upper Galilee.
Translated by Janie Respitz
In the years 1924-1925 the Jews of Poland were caught up in an immigration psychosis. Polish soil was burning under their feet and people looked for every opportunity to leave. Many felt the only place for them was the Land of Israel. During this chaotic Fourth Aliyah, Jews of Radom held a respectable position. Zionist activists as well as simple folk were immigrating. The stream of immigrants from Radom was so strong they had to open a branch of the Land of Israel Bureau. The director was Moishe Rotenberg and the secretary was Simkhe Potashnik (Shaham).
However, one could only leave if he had a request from relatives in the Land of Israel or certificates which pioneers and artisans received. However, despite all these difficulties the middle class found various ways and means to immigrate.
Under this psychosis there was hardly a house in Radom where people were not talking about or planning their emigration. The Ger Hasidim called a meeting at the home of the well known Hasid Raykhman about acquiring land in the Land of Israel. They invited the representative from the Society to Keep the Community Kosher to this meeting.
The iron industrialists and merchants sought advice from Moishe Salbeh on the same issue. Mizrachi created a fund to help immigrants.
On January 4th 1925 a meeting took place in the hall of the Zionist organization for those that purchased land in Afula. Moishe Rotenberg went to Warsaw to establish plots of land for those who wanted to emigrate and settle there.
Jews left daily for the Land of Israel. Hundreds of friends, relatives and acquaintances accompanied them. Y. Kirshenboym known under the pseudonym Yoshev Beseter (Sits in Secret) describes the mood of the day in the Radom Newspaper in April 1925:
The stream of immigration is massive. There are enthusiastic scenes at the train station. As happy as those who are leaving feel, that's how lonesome those who remain behind feel. Saturday night at ten o'clock the masses streamed through Dlugeh Street. They were led by rows of horse drawn coaches loaded with men, women and children. The streets echoed with songs of the pioneers and shouts of Haydad! Mikhal Zhteynman and his two sons were among those departing. They were wearing white and blue arm bands; and here we see the pioneer girls Khaya Ruzhani and Shoshana Pshitzky dressed as pioneers. When we heard the signal and the train arrived the crowd was electrified. Everyone spontaneously began to sing: Hatikva…the police called for order and were irritated but the crowd began to dance an enthusiastic Hora. When the train pulled away it was accompanied by shouts: Long live the worker's in Land of Israel! and Let's meet again soon in our land!
In another edition of the paper the same author Yoshev Beseter wrote:
Whoever was present when the emigrants departed will never forget that scene. We never knew how loved Moishe Luxemburg was, even among the non Zionist community. The masses came to say goodbye to their friend and comrade. The entire Zionist committee came, headed by Mr. Frenkel, as well as the committees of national and communal institutions
who kindly bid Mr. Moishe Luxemburg farewell.
At another train car masses were saying goodbye to Mr. Mentlik and Mr. Breslaver, who were going to inspect the land for themselves and others. They sang Hatikva, Tekhezakna and Moishe Luxemburg called out: Goodbye friends! May we all meet again soon in the Land of Israel!
At that time Avrom Lindenboym emigrated with his wife as well as the well known Zionist activist from Drilzh Radom, the owner of the printing house Reb Mordkhai Grosfeld. Practically the entire town came to say goodbye to him. All the students and teachers from the Zionist school came to the train to say good bye to this praiseworthy activist. The respected pioneer Khane Yuzepovska also departed.
This was a very difficult time in the Land of Israel. Unfortunately, many who left during that chaotic emigration returned.
by Khaim Taykhman
Translated by Janie Respitz
The Hechalutz farm was made possible thanks to the Jewish property owner Mr. Shteynberg who donated 11 acres of land for a few years for Jewish boys and girls to learn to work the land. This land served as a training camp for those planning to be Jewish farmers in the Land of Israel.
With great enthusiasm, 13 of us, boys and girls went to work this soil. Let's list them: Shmuel Grinshpan, Yitzkhak Vaysaman, Pinkhas Fogelman, Yokheved Naydik, Khave and Khaye Ruzhaneh, Moishe Stashevsky, Menakhem Verber, Bronka Gertner, Rivka Berger, Khaim Taykhman and…unfortunately I do not remember the rest of the children of the factory owners, merchants and artisans.
There was one idea and goal that united us: the love of the homeland we dreamed about.
We approached our work with the greatest respect. The field was strewn with stones and overrun with weeds, a real desert. In the month of Tamuz (July) the Polish sun could be compared to our Israeli sun. With bent backs under the scorching sun we spent the entire day cleaning the field of stones and weeds. Thick beads of sweat dripped down our faces. The delicate hands and feet of these city children became scratched and wounded, blistered and calloused but their stubbornness drove them to continue their work.
Within a short time we cleaned the field and were ready to plow and seed. This work was led by the agronomists Zilberglat (Caspi) and Rapoport.
I remember Caspi's kind face and his pedagogic and talented way of showing and teaching us how to plant. The agronomist Rapoport would laugh showing his two rows of gold teeth. They appeared to us like biblical priests who did the work with their own hands and taught us how to do this holy work. They introduced us to a world that until that time was unfamiliar to us, the world of agriculture. The more we learned from their agricultural knowledge the more respect we had for them.
After a few months the field was covered with a delicate fresh green veil. The first sprouts of tomatoes were visible as well as the first shoots of green beans…Each leaf revealed God's wonders. We observed everything with enormous joy and boundless wonder, this was for us a great emotional experience.
There were rumours spreading about us in town, like we were a bunch of crazy people. Many guests came to visit.
One day was had a very prominent guest: Yitzkhak Grinboym. We were proud of our accomplishments and his visit was a triumph for us.
In the evening, returning from difficult work and after a meagre supper, none of us went to sleep. We had discussions. The main topic: The Land of Israel. At that time Yehoash published his impression of the Land of Israel in the Yiddish press. His artistic descriptions of the historic places in the old city of Jerusalem, the Galilee, the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret), left a huge impression on us. We were enchanted.
We lived together like one big family. Naturally, couples began to form. Thin threads of pure innocent love were woven. However our greatest love was far from us. This was our land of Zion…
I remember we once had a visitor from the Land of Israel, an envoy. He was a slim man with a black hat, which had a large round rim. His face, burned by the sun, had a pair of black eyes. He appeared to us as a mystical figure. We observed him with enthusiasm penetrating him with our eyes. In the evening, after work we went out with him to the field, sat around him and received live greetings from the Land of Israel. We swallowed his words. He described for us life in the colonies, the guards with weapons riding on horses; about the wild Bedouins and their camels etc…
Finally, with a beautiful lyrical voice he sang the Hebrew song How Beautiful are the Nights in Canaan…
That night, none of us were able to fall asleep. We dreamed with our eyes open.
Autumn arrived, the beautiful Polish autumn. We picked the fruits of our labour. The field remained lonely and abandoned. Pale yellow leaves covered the naked terrain. A light rain fell. The sun set and sent rays to the raindrops which hung from the last remaining flowers. This created a tremendous amount of colours, red, emerald green, and I thought: how beautifully the earth dies…
We all left in different directions, each one's path connected to his fate.
After many years of wandering throughout the world, after the great tragedy that befell the Jewish people, a large portion of these friends met again here.
This is thanks to that rocky piece of field, far off in the diaspora, and our deep love and desire for our promised land.
Memories of the Farm
Even before the Balfour Declaration a strong desire existed among our youth to learn agricultural work in order to go to the Land of Israel as prepared farmers which the country needed.
This was still the time of Sturm und Drang when everything was a revolt against the old way of life and people were trying to change the world.
It those days we organized Hashomer, which was then only a sports and scout group. The high school students published a Hebrew Polish newspaper called EL Al. The older teens looked for the possibility of a pioneer farm in order to learn to work the land. They were successful in finding land belonging to a Jewish property owner in the Kafter Forest, with a house they could live in. We contacted various institutions to send us agricultural instructors who could teach us to plow, sow, and carry out this work. Fortuitously, I knew about a Zionist agricultural school in Vienna. We approached them and they sent us a trained agronomist, Dr. Rappoprt who came with his whole family: his wife, mother in law and four children…they settled into our farm and the intensive work began.
Now, Radom was fortunate to have the first Zionist pioneer farm in Poland.
We worked seven hours a day and in the evenings we learned Hebrew. Our Hebrew teacher was Yitzkhak Vaysman (one of our avant gardes who emigrated in 1919 and was one of the founders of Kibbutz Yagur). Fogelman read the Zionist publicist articles to us and recited poems by Bialik and Tchernikhovsky.
The following were among the devoted pioneers at our farm: Natke Zolotovska (Bacteriologist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem), she died with a group of doctors and nurses on the way to Mt. Scopus in the fiery days after the proclamation of the State), Khaim Taykhman (Tel Aviv), Shmuel Grinshpan who was one of the most dedicated pioneers who died of tuberculosis and did not have the privilege of emigrating to the Land of Israel, the two sisters Khaya and Khava Ruzhane, Yokheved and Puah Naydik (wife of Judge Avishar) and others whose names are difficult to remember.
The interest in our farm was so great that the most prominent Zionist leaders came to visit. High level government officials visited as well.
With time, youth groups were founded in Radom which united in Communes (Kibbutzim): the Kibbutz Breishit (Genisis) founded the movement Torah and Work. The Kibbutz Khazit (Vision), I think it was part of Hashomer Hatzair, was comprised of hundreds of pioneers from all of Poland as well as some who had escaped Germany. In 1927 the training Kibbutz HaSolel was founded (connected to Kibbutz Hameukhad). Their base was in the factory which belonged to the Rotenberg family on the Zamlina. After a year of training they all left for the Land of Israel.
The largest training Kibbutz in Radom was the commune called Three V's from Hashomer
Hatzair. They were called Three V's because the members all came from Warsaw (Varshe), Vilna and Volhin. Later they changed the name to Galil.
In 1929 an initiative group came to Radom
comprised of fourteen people who laid the foundation for a training Kibbutz of the largest scale. Thanks to organizational talent and help from the Zionist organization this Kibbutz expanded and had four hundred members. They were concentrated in the beer factory Zabiela on Meltchna. Later they moved to the building of the Old People's Home on the road to Firlay. They worked in a variety of factories, mainly tanneries. They chopped wood and carried coal. They were looked after by a committee which included Moishe Bakman, Mendl Khayt, Yisroel Shtatvayner, Dr. Olga Levin and Rokhl Khmielazh. The core of this group live on Kibbutz Amir in the Upper Galilee.
by Moishe Stashevsky
Translated by Janie Respitz
On a spring evening in 1924 a meeting of youth took place in Reb Asher's Heder, members of the Zionist and pioneer movement, to discuss the possibilities and plans to create a League for Workers in the Land of Israel in Radom. After a long discussion the framework of the organization was created and the group began their practical work: to legalize the League (which meant receiving a permit from the authorities), recruiting new members, and creating material resources and a joining the central committee.
Recruiting new members was easy. The organizers found people who were positive and supported this cause. The amount of members grew at a quick tempo and the League broadened its activity. They began offering evening Hebrew courses. They organized various open events including meetings and lectures and the prestige of the league increased on the Jewish street. Their representatives were gladly received in the institutions they were delegated to. The League was particularly active in fund raising.
The following were elected onto the board: Zvi Galt, Nekhemieh Milman, Motl Fridman, Shloyme Hokhglober, Altman, the lawyer Taub and the four Moishes: Moishe Naydik, Moishe Tzukerman, Moishe Bronshteyn and the writer of these lines, Moishe Stashevsky as chairman.
They were also the nucleus of the Labour Zionist Movement in Radom.
Witness to the fact the League was held in high esteem were the visits they received from great personalities including: Avrom Bilopolsky, Borukh Tzukerman, Zalman Rubashov - Shazar, Berl Loker, the engineer Anshl Reys and many representatives from the central committee.
The League organized and supported the football (Soccer) team Maccabi which was led by Dr. Yakov Pomrok who died in Israel.
The League played an active role in the elections of Zionist congresses, city council and the Jewish community council. The League was even invited by the Polish Socialist Party P.P.S (the largest political party in Radom) to create a common bloc for city council elections.
The League was also active in many communal organizations. For example they were active in the health organization TOZ as well as the aid campaign for unfortunate Polish Jews from the sad, well known expulsion from the sad-known Zbonshin[refugee camp], etc…
Sadly, very sadly, only a few members of the League for Workers in the Land of Israel in Radom emerged from our people's catastrophe. The majority shared the same fate as our persecuted martyrs.
by Sala Blushteyn (Kimchi)
Translated by Janie Respitz
Our clubhouse had 150 members and its prestige on the Jewish street continued to grow, particularly thanks to our events like the performance of Bontche the Silent and the Chanukah and Purim celebrations with programs. The last and nicest accomplishment of our clubhouse was our library. Thanks to Bella Milshteyn it developed and was very useful for the town. We took a lot of Initiative in Zionist work and many of our members immigrated to the Land of Israel. Many of our young members, students, quit their studies and went to pioneer training camps throughout Poland. Two of our young members died in the training camp: Rokhtche Zanger and Motele Vaysman. Those who completed the training went illegally to the Land of Israel where they were active is setting up Kibbutzim.
Our clubhouse organized excursions which brought the youth closer to nature. The summer camps were always successful and left a deep impression on the kids. The town was very good to us and helped us with various activities. We were in regular contact with WIZO. The greatest day for us was Lag Ba Omer, when we would march in our uniforms, with backpacks and flags, trumpets and drums and go into the forest where we would pitch tents. In the evening we would return with lit torches and the crowd would welcome us with applause. The leaders of our group were Yekhiel Vaysbord and the head of the library, Laykeh Mintzberg.
When the war broke out our clubhouse fell apart. The sisters Ruzhe and Soreh Zilber, Rafael Hokh and Laykeh Mintzburg were the last members of our Hashomer Hatzair clubhouse in Radom.
Shmuel Demba was a handsome, tall guy, with a pair of high boots who spoke Yiddish with a Vilna accent. He would go to the factory owners in town to arrange work placements for members of our movement that would come here. In town there was a patronage, headed by Yekhiel Frenkel that looked after finding a residence and work for those that came for Zionist training. In the early days our members would bring food and take people home to sleep. The town recognized our needs and helped accommodate the groups which were always changing.
The nicest time was when we had the training Kibbutz Three V's. (Varshe (Warsaw), Vilna and Vohlin). 120 male and female pioneers invaded our town. Their ringing Hebrew excited everyone. They awakened great admiration and people gladly supported them. The Margolis family gave them a large building on their estate. The boys went to work in factories and workshops and the girls did housework. There was a tight connection between those in the training camp and the Zionist youth in town. Those who immigrated went to Kibbutz Amir in Hadera which they founded. Before they left, they educated new members in the pioneer training camp Bachazit.
At the end of 1938 I met the leadership for the last time in Warsaw. They were planning summer camps and Toshya Altman laughingly said: Maybe you will stay here and I'll go instead of you to the Land of Israel? Yosef Kaplan was sitting beside her and replied: This is fate. We have to stay here and work for the movement. We enjoyed lunch together and none of us imagined the war and terror that was approaching…
The following members of our Hashomer Hatzair clubhouse are now living on Kibbutzim in Israel: Shoshana Mushkatblit, Khaim Veytzman, Nekhemieh Milman, Yakov Veysman, Eliezer and Rena Lifshitz, Moishe Zanger, Sh. Veysman, Sala Blumshteyn (Kimchi), Yekhezkl Kurtz, Yudis Veytzman, Bella Ziskind, Laykeh Mintzberg and Banker. All these people continued the tasks we began in our organization back in our hometown.
by Sh. Ben Chaim, Tel Aviv
Translated by Janie Respitz
There was no movement in our city that for so many years was more active in all areas of communal life than the Labour Zionist Party. The committee members, both at home and in the street, spoke to the masses in their language, Yiddish, appealing to their national and social consciousness. The best students and the working intelligentsia joined the party which the population liked and respected and expressed trust during various elections.
The Labour Zionist Party was established in Radom during times of revolution and upheaval, in the days of Sturm und Drang when everything was ready for renewal, and for a better, more beautiful, just and ideal world. The Jewish youth felt restricted by the old way of life and were hungry for a refreshing change. They were looking for a bold movement that would leave its mark on the international and national arena.
At the time, the Zionist movement was satisfied with buying shekels and once in a while listening to a Zionist speech. However their homes were slowly assimilating and they began to speak Polish The Bund at that time was only concerned with professional problems and preached against Zionism. It was at that time the Labour Zionist Party emerged and the youth found a synthesis between Zionism and socialism.
Thanks to the Labour Zionist Movement we in Radom were among the first to hear the folk troubadours of the day. The first to come was Zerubavel who performed in the hall of the Kobyet League with an entrance was on Voel. Night after night thousands came to hear his lectures which echoed with the thunder of revolution and gave light to and was scented with the dew of the fields of the Land of Israel This grandstand master did not only make an impact with his hammering words which encouraged and strengthened, but also his appearance made an impression. It was a pleasure to look at his raised head, his pitch black beard which with a sense of patriarchy commanded respect from everyone.
After him, Dr. Yuris arrived. His outward appearance did not make such a strong impression. He was a short, thin young man in a velvet jacket and military shoes with horseshoes and nails. However, legends were recounted about this Dr. Yuris: He was a leader in the Austrian Socialist Party and joined hundreds of thousands of proletarians on the barricades. Suddenly a spark of Jewishness awakened in him. He left his honourable position in the international realm and joined his poor brothers to teach them about socialism in the Land of Israel this little doctor had the voice of a violin with delicate strings on which he played soulful melodies His words were so picturesque and colourful, always with a joke or a parable which brought cheerfulness and enjoyment. He spoke in such a folksy style, all his difficult theories came across clear and understandable. The hall at the Kobyet League thundered with applause. After his talk he was actually carried out of the room.
Later, some of the best Labour Zionist speakers came, theoreticians and cheerleaders of political meetings, from Warsaw, Lodz and even from the Land of Israel, like Moishe Erem. The greatest literary personalities of the day also came, like Uri Zvi Greenberg, Peretz Markish, Itzik Manger and Avrom Morevsky. But the biggest sensation occurred with the arrival of Dr. Khaim Zhitlovsky for a cycle of philosophical readings for which he received an astronomical amount of 900 dollars. The readings took place in the large Korso hall which was filled and hundreds had to remain outside. Weeks after he left people continued to discuss his lectures and quote pearls from his statements.
Besides foreign personalities the movement had its own local talents who could be compared to famous peopled from other cities. It is worthwhile to mention a few:
Zekharia Vayntroyb, the Live Encyclopedia. People said no book left his fathers' bookbinding shop without him reading it first His lectures in the Society of Evening Courses, about political economics, historical materialism, Darwinism etc attracted masses of listeners. He was able to recite from memory complete pages of Marx, Engels, Kautsky, Lenin and Plekhanov.
Shmuel Taykhman was sent as a young boy to forced labour and after the coup returned home. He returned with revolutionary passion, although people said it was the religious passion of his father Yoshke Taykhman. He did not need Korso nor the Kobyet League.
His halls were the streets, particularly Voel, and his grandstand could have been a barrel or a crate where he would, in a fiery way rail against capitalism and would ask people to throw off the yoke and join the Labour Zionists who will fight for revolution in the Land of Israel.
Moishe Zayfman, with his long hair and eagle's nose, looked like a poet. He wore snowy white blouses over his pants, tied with a black cord, like Gorky, and a book under his arm. He was the poet- fighter who could be characterized by Book and Sword: he loved Yiddish literature, was in love with flowers and agitated for battle, which would be the last valid battle
Dovid Vayntroyb, the autodidact, was filled with knowledge and learning. This was a rare type of dynamic, Jewish revolutionary. He was like a folk tribune and his mouth was like a volcano spewing fire. He also had the talent to ignite his audience who were soon ready for an active fight In the party he was the chairman, strategist, the commander and the player. His Hasidic ecstasy carried people away. After all his speeches everyone was exalted and sang The Oath: We swear, we swear, an oath of blood and tears
The legal shield of the Labour Zionists was the Society Evening Courses at 16 Rvaynske Street. This was a smithy which forged speakers and activists from near and far. This is where lectures, discussions and checkers' evenings took place. The location was open from early until late at night. Saturdays and holidays, the place was packed. There was a cheap buffet where for a few groshen you could get something to eat and you did not have to leave in the middle of a discussion Once, on the eve of Yom Kippur, right before Kol Nidre a fire broke out from the overfilled samovar, and the members from religious homes had a difficult time
The youth were so influenced by the movement, its orders were stronger than the orders of their parents. Instead of a class struggle, the struggle began between sons and daughters and their parents who did not want their children hanging and distributing proclamations, organizing strikes and demonstrating in the streets. But even in this struggle the children were victorious. When May 1st fell on the Sabbath two camps met on Voel Street, or rather two worlds: the sons and daughters who marched with flags and banners in the demonstrations and fathers, who walked to the House of Study or Hasidic prayer house wrapped in their prayer shawls If this were not enough, on the days when the May 1st demonstration fell on the Sabbath, the accompanying orchestra playing on the balcony of the locale was comprised of boys of pious, Hasidic fathers who later were embarrassed to go into the Hasidic prayer house to pray
The Society Evening Courses had a good drama club. Besides preforming plays the drama club presented cultural evenings and Purim Balls. I remember one Purim Ball at the Maytoshchi Theatre, in the middle of the celebrations, the Rebbe and his Hasidim stormed in, wearing their fur hats (shtreimls) and satin long coats. Instead of sitting at home at heir own pious Purim feast, they came to us shouting:
Help! A fire is burning in town! Boys and girls are dancing together!But soon we realized, the holy man was none other than Yisroel Tzeygnberg (Ben Zvi) and all his Hasidim were a bunch of clowns from the drama club
The Yiddish school at the Society Evening Courses was considered one of the best TSISHO Schools in Poland, with a high quality faculty. The school was supported by the Joint and the courses were free.
The Society had a large Yiddish library with hundreds of readers.
In the first years after the war, when hardship was great, the Labour Zionists opened a bakery, a coal warehouse, a food cooperative and a shoe factory to ease the suffering of the Jewish population.
All of these legal activities made it possible to carry out underground work. Theoretically the Labour Zionist Movement was for a dictator of the proletariat, and believed the Comintern would recognize them, and with the help of the Red Army would create a Jewish worker's movement in the Land of Israel. However Moscow did not see the specific needs of the Jews in Europe.
After Poland's liberation when they were expecting a pogrom in the city, the Labour Zionists, under the leadership of Dovid Vayntroyb, created a self defence. The city was divided into quarters, streets and courtyards. The regional and quarter leaders received guns. All the others received knives, daggers, metal bars etc The task of the courtyard self defence was to organize the residents to take an active role in the fight against the attackers. I remember the first meeting on Warsaw Street in a coal warehouse. Dovid Vayntroyb
was filling bags with rusty swords. God knows where he got them When the weapons were distributed he gave a fiery speech, quoting Bialik's City of Slaughter. He reminded us of Rabbi Akiva, Bar Kochba and even Moses Later, when he left with his adjutant Moishe Zayfman to inspect the guards, they were both arrested. They had revolvers on them, without a permit. Later, great efforts were made through the P.P.S activists to free them. No pogrom actually took place at the time, but thanks to the self defence the Labour Zionists received more recognition in town.
Three well situated members belonged to the party: Meir Rozenkrantz, a food merchant, Shmuel Margolis, a leather merchant and Yekhiel Rotenberg, a leather manufacturer. They were the financiers of the party and covered the deficits in good times when lectures by party speakers only brought moral success in bad times, during the great arrests, they paid the legal expenses. People in town used to joke that these three wealthy members of the Labour Zionists would have brought the socialist revolution long ago, if they did not have to hold the hands of the proletariat
Shmuel Elye Margolis was called the Sabbath and holiday socialist, because all week he was busy with his business and left party work to his wife Malka she really belonged to the activist committee members and had a deciding word.
Our comrades Shmuel and Malka Margolis lives at 12 Lublin Street where they had a hotel, a guest house for members of the Labour Zionists who visited Radom, invited speakers and writers. Secret meetings and important conferences also took place in their home. The janitor of their courtyard, a member of P.P.S knew that Malka fought for his professional requirements. He also knew he received drink money. Besides that, opening the gate late at night he received cash in hand. Therefore, when there was any sort of suspicion he immediately sent a message: Run away!
Today, you can imagine, these devoted members of the Labour Zionists have stumbled. They were caught doing proletarian sin: praying during Yom Kippur in the Zionist synagogue at 12 Lublin Street (on such a good, secular day, Yom Kippur). The party tribunal was called to try and convict them for their transgression. Those found guilty were given a harsh punishment: they were kicked out of the party. They could no longer have any connection with this clerical house: with people who know that the religion is the opium of the masses and still go and drink this horrible nectar
Apparently, the members that yielded to temptation must have prayed hard because none other than comrade Dovid Vayntroyb interceded for them.
During the Bolshevik invasion, when the Red Army stood at the gates of Warsaw, Dovid Vayntroyb alerted the active members as his face beamed with joy:
Comrades, the great day is approaching!...Our prognosis will be accomplished!...It is a matter of hours comrades and we, the avant garde, will be the first to receive our liberator!...Comrades, buy red fabric and sew flags! One flag we will hang across from the county court house, on the balcony of our friends the Margolises, and the second flag will hang on Tchorny Dvor and the Rotengberg's.Luckily, the male and female comrades did not rush to buy even one red band. This was the first serious rupture of discipline, when the members of the Labour Zionists did not obey the order of Dovid Vayntroyb. Later he switched over to the Communists.
The wide ranging activity of the Labour Zionists could not remain concealed for much longer under the reactionary Polish power. The agent Bakhner proposed the party be suppressed by various provocations. In the library they threw out so called reports from the committee about negotiations with delegates from the Comintern. He brought a provocateur, Asher Lentshitzer, who came to Radom supposedly as an active professional in the Labour Zionists organization. Thanks to him, they closed the school and the library and they began to arrest members of the Labour Zionist party. The best members rushed their immigration to the Land of Israel. Others simply escaped from Radom.
However, the movement we not shattered and continued with its work, up until the days of the Holocaust.
In conclusion, it must be said, thanks to the Labour Zionist Movement many members and sympathizers were saved when, while there was still time, immigrated to the Land of Israel and belong to the creators and builders of the State of Israel.
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