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[Page 411]

Fighters and Defenders


Translated by Janie Respitz

Even before the First World War Jewish immigrants from Radom (from the Second Aliyah) defended their positions in the Galilee as well as in the south. In a photograph from 1912 we see Yakov Davidzon (Ben-David) Khaim Krul, Abba Krul, Yosef Krul, Yakov Krul, Yisrael Khaim Ben – David, their brother Zalman, Moshe Zayfman and Yisrael Mordkhai Hershman, all with weapons in their hands. They are guarding Jewish fields and vineyards and the streets and alleys of Jaffa and Jerusalem. In a photograph from that period we can see Yitzkhak Vaysbord at a defence position near Merchavia in the Jezreel Valley. The following volunteered for the “Jewish Brigade” and worked in various regions : Berl Zelker, Yosef Nechushtan, Yakov Krul, David Grushkevitch, Yisrale Khaim Nayhoyz (Ben-Yehuda), Yakov Davidzon, Yosef and Khaim Krul and others.

Ovadiah Margalit describes the events of 1921 when he and three friends from Radom met a group of “Pogromchiks” (Arab bandits) on the road from Jaffa to Yazur. During the events of 1929 Khaim Birnboym was among the heroes who defended the neighbourhood Yemin Moshe in Jerusalem where he was killed.

Khaim Rozenzveyg (Ben-Menachem) was an active member of the Haganah until the establishment of the state. He was also one of the commanders in the Jerusalem region. Officially he was an employee at the zoo near the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus but this was just a way for him to continue with his work for the Haganah.

During the Second World War, in the days of the “Notrot” (Jewish Police Brigade) and the Wingate Squads we find Yitzkhak Vaysbord with his eldest son in defence positions in the valley and Jenin. Yosef Nechushtan was active at this time in Tel – Aviv and his son, in Yazur as a member of the Palmach. The same goes from many of Radom's sons and grandsons who guarded cities and villages, kibbutzim and groups, protecting Jewish lives, property over every span of our Jewish land.

Dov Berl Zelker

by F. Gal

Translated by Janie Respitz

Before the First World War there was a certain Shloyme Milshteyn who “made” passes in Radom. Theses passes cost 15 ruble and with such a pass one did not stumble on his way, not in Odessa nor in Trieste. The following immigrated with these passes: Dov Berl Zelker, Nayhoyz, Vaysbord, Zayfman and Kuperberg. This was in 1911 or 1912. They all later joined the Jewish Brigade and took part in conquests of labour (a term used to describe efforts of early Jewish immigrants to do work not generally done in the diaspora, or done by non-Jews in Palestine).

And none other than Zelker, the quiet dreamer, joined the group “Ha Carmel” in Haifa which would guard and take upon themselves various tasks. As his close friend Zakhayt wrote, Zelker died in Haifa on Tisha B'Av, 1922. He was stabbed by an Arab on Hahar Street corner Hagafen Street which is now called U.N Boulevard. He was in hospital for a few days then died of his wounds. The Arab was sentenced to fifteen years but escaped from jail.

A second friend of his, Sh. L. wrote the following in the “Radom Newspaper” in October 1922:

“We worked together in the Land of Israel. I can still see him, sad and lonely. He blamed “those who were satisfied with handouts to Jewish communities in the Land and remained seated around a pot of meat”. There were those who ran from danger but he was the first to face the enemy. He was one of the devoted guards who did not worry about themselves. I simply did not think about himself. He thought only about building the land, doing things for his people in their land. He loved to sit all night with his friends and dreamily sing eastern melodies….”

He was 26 when he gave his life for the Land.

Khaim Birenboym

by Shmuel Tzuker

Translated by Janie Respitz

He was born in Radom in 1904 to well off parents. He went to Heder and then to a Polish school. His wealthy parents were impoverished during the First World War. His father died and his mother had to bake potato cakes which young Khaiml had to sell on the street to the soldiers in order to help out the household with little orphans. At the age of twelve he learned shoemaking and joined the “Bund” where most of the leather workers in town belonged. After work he took evening courses. He learned and read a lot. After some time he left the “Bund” and joined the Labour Zionists.

This is where he devoted himself completely. He soon became one of the most active members in the youth organization and a member of the committee. Khaim Birenboym was the organizer of the “Green Circles” of the workers and school youth. He organized outings to forests, gave lectures, until a magnificent youth organization was formed. He help to re-establish the professional movement which was broken apart by police

[Page 412]

violence. He also organized a “Live Newspaper” which became very popular in town. The police persecuted him. He had to run away from town. He hid for a while and then received permission to emigrate to the Land of Israel, and for security reasons under a different name: Khanokh Opatovsky.

He was 21 years old when he arrived and began to work in his trade for 30 piasters a day. The movement requested, that due to conquests of labour, he should go the Jerusalem and work on the train. He did this work for four years, earning starvation wages of 12 piasters a day. He was so beloved by all Jewish and Arab workers he was elected as a delegate to the Congress of Train Workers in Jerusalem.

On Friday, the 17th of Av 1929, when the riots began in Jerusalem, Khaim heard cries for help from the residents of Yemin Moshe. He threw down his work and went to defend the Jews against the wild mob. The small amount of brave defenders were successful in holding back the attacking mob, but during the shooting Khaim received a bullet in his chest. His friend Pnini tried to take him to the hospital but they were attacked once again on the way and Khaim was stabbed all over his body. He was still alive. He suffered in the hospital for five days until he finally breathed his final breath.

Shmuel Noam – Tzuker

by Yehuda Tzuker

Translated by Janie Respitz

The first time he performed for a Jewish audience he was barely seven years old: with a bold and resounding voice he read the Megilla. (Scroll of Esther on Purim). Later on he would give lectures and became a community activist devoting heart and soul.

Shmuel was born May 4th 1904 to Mordkhai and Nekhele Tzuker. He had a good head and was the favourite pupil in Heder. The difficult situation at home forced him to start working at a young age. He became an iron worker and by 12 years old he was already working 12 hours a day. However he thirsted for knowledge. He would study in the evening and read half the night. Had his father not gotten up in the middle of the night to turn off the lamp he would have read until morning.

However his love for Zion was even stronger. He devoted every free minute to the movement. By 13-14 he was already travelling in the vicinity of our town propagandizing the idea of the Labour Zionists.

He loved his parents, brothers and sisters very much. In 1925 when he left for the Land of Israel and wandered to Vienna with 150 pioneers where the Zionist Congress took place, Shmuel was chosen from among his friends as a delegate to go to the Congress and arrange for certificates. He was successful. Reb Yekhiel Frenkel, of blessed memory, returned from the Congress and reported that Shmuel was in a difficult situation. He parents immediately sent help, but Shmuel responded with a reproachful letter: Our poor home, filled with small children, does not have to receive money. He does not send the money back due to the fact that he loved his parents and did not want to hurt them. But he asked them not to send again. This was a time that he had to work as a porter, pulling a heavy wagon to earn a piece of bread.

In the Land of Israel he worked at his trade during the day, on a lathe. In the evening, for the Labour Union activities. He also served in the Haganah.

After the riots of 1929 he moved from Tel – Aviv to Haifa where the secretary of the Regional Council asked him to leave his work and become secretary of the Metal Workers Union. He did it although he claimed he belonged to the “blackened and charcoaled”. He was active in many areas and gave lectures for the cultural commission of the workers' council.

Answering the call from the National Council he enlisted (at the beginning of the Second World War) in the British Army and was privileged to be among those who gathered the refugees from camps and bring them to the shores of their dreams.

As a cultural officer he was in North Africa, Egypt, Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium bringing news of the rising Jewish community in the Land of Israel.

Shmuel loved classical music and the melodies of Jewish prayers and religious songs which he loved to sing in family circles and with friends. He wrote a lot both in Yiddish and Hebrew and published in many newspapers in the Land of Israel and the Jewish diaspora signing his articles: Sh. Tz., Avi Oded, Shaliach (Messenger), Sh. N., Noam and others.

Between missions, he worked at helping new immigrants find work and livelihood.

At the request of Mapai he was sent as a representative to South America. His wife Hela and their son Oded went with him. He travelled through the wide steppes of Argentina, to the faraway colonies, where along with his words, brought Hasidic enthusiasm, pioneering songs, religious songs and folk songs. Argentinian Jews called it “Noam's Melody”.

Noam's Melody rang through the steppes in the farthest, most remote Jewish settlements of South America. (Translator's note: the text says South Africa, but I believe this is an error).

You can be sure the tones of Noam's heartfelt melodies are still reverberation there,

[Page 413]

even though they were suddenly torn away. He was killed in an airplane crash on a flight to Rio de Janeiro on June 17th 1953. The broken string of Noam's violin echoed throughout the Jewish world.

The Jewish community in the Land of Israel, the labour Union, the movement, lost one of their best sons.

This is what the Israeli Ambassador in Paris, Dr. Yakov Tzur said about him:

“The first time I saw Shmuel Naom he was dressed in heavy winter clothing as a soldier in the Jewish Brigade in Egypt. The last time I saw him was in Buenos Aires when friends gathered to bid him farewell on the eve of his last trip to Brazil, from which he never returned.

A pioneer, a communal worker, a soldier, a messenger. Always ready to answer the call, always ready to carry out an order without hesitation or discussion. At the same time, always modest and always, with devotion to his task. With a conviction of non – reckoning, he tried to integrate wherever he was sent: be it the military, youth groups, party activists and the Zionist Movement of South America.

I remember long conversations with him about the role of the representatives and how far people were removed from the Zionist reality. Why had the honour of a representative from Israel fallen when he used to be revered as a leader and guide? A messenger who brings with him the beauty of the land. Why is he looked upon today as a strange plant? Noam claimed, that this occurred because the messenger cannot place himself higher than the public to whom he has been sent. He should not come as a jurist, but rather as a friend, a partner in the work. He should not avoid hard work and look for easy victories. Instead of sermonizing, he should carry out the work on his own, then all will follow.

During his activity in Argentina he actually practiced what he preached. There was not a single undertaking he did not help with. There was not one task he was not suited for. He wrote articles himself and made sure the newspapers continued to exist. He gave lectures and organized audiences. At a time when these representatives settled down in larger Jewish communities, he wandered from large cities to small towns, from villages to Jewish colonies. He was not deterred by spending a nights on a train and hours on airplanes in order to reach remote lonely communities who were hungry for a Yiddish word and greetings from Israel.

He was a great lecturer. He would call meetings and set up new organizations in remote areas, laying one brick at a time. At first the members were surprised by such a messenger, who was not looking for publicity or honour for himself. However, in the end he was victorious: he served as an example to all. He managed to gather a following through his natural and simple deeds.

Before he departed in his last journey, he travelled day and night by train and bus through risky regions of Argentina. He was tired but beamed. He saw the fruits of his labours with his own eyes. His work of many months. He left for the party meeting in Rio de Janeiro with many plans and suggestions: he found the path to the Jewish masses on the South American continent. He wanted to share this with the other representatives who would came after him and continue this work. He was homesick and wanted to return to Haifa sooner than later.

He did not live to see Haifa again.

He lived like a soldier and died like a soldier on guard duty”

These are the words of Israeli Ambassador Dr. Yakov Tzur. Our dear Shmuel Noam was 49 years old when he tragically departed from this world in 1953.

In memory of Shmuel Noam, the Argentinian Jewish community founded a library in the Bialik School in Buenos Aires which is named Shmuel Noam

A Soldier had Fallen


(In memory of Shmuel Noam)

by Moishe Knapheys

Translated by Janie Respitz

Nothing will be lost,
Everything returns to what it was.

The rays of glory shine upon
The spirit of bright radiance.

The blue of the planets
Can darken the slits.

But no one can hide
From the falling stars.

Whoever wanted to stop
The cut from sharp and cold,

The step of blind fate?
And quietly, without noise
A soldier fell.


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