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[Page 214]

The “Agudas Yisroel”

by Yakov Elboim

Orthodox Jewry in Poland began organizing before the end of the First World War during the German-Austrian occupation, into the so-called Agudas Haorthodoxim. A branch of Agudas Haorthodoxim also was formed in Radomsk based on the pattern of Warsaw and other cities. The organization of frumen (religious) Jewry ultimately crystallized with the reestablishment of Poland as a nation in 1918. Appeals and pamphlets signed by the leading Torah scholars, rebbes and rabbis called upon religious Jews to join in Agudas Shlomeni Emunai Yisroel. Under the influence of religious community workers in Radomsk, who also supported it, the organization arose here.

At the head of the organization stood the prominent religious Jews of the city and among them: the Radomsker Rebbe, Rabbi Rabinowicz, the Amszinower Rebbe, Rabbi Abrahamele, Rabbi Zelwer, Rabbi Buki, Reb Y. M. Eibeszits, Kh. Sh. Krakowski, Y.Y. Zeligzon, D. Y. Zinger. A. Grosman, M. Lakhman, Y.D. Fajtlowicz, N. Eibeszits, Y. Szpira, E. Filler, L. Dunski, B. Ganszerowicz, Shoykhet Y. Poznanski, Shoykhet Y.Y. Bachen, L. Dankewicz, Y. Fajerman, Kh. Zelwer, M. Elboim, D.L. Fajerman, Y. Berger, Z. Goldberg, and others.

The provisional committee of Agudas Shlomeni Emunai Yisroel undertakes great deeds. However, above all, one wants to attract the young who aspire to the religious way of life. While the different parties carry out widespread political and cultural activities, founding libraries, distributing newspapers and so forth, the religious Jews neglect everything and must begin at the very beginning. The provisional committee proceeds with great ardor to its work. An assembly of representatives of the shtiblekh and minyonim, as well as prominent city businessmen, is called together and an appeal is read from the rebbes and rabbis.

[Page 215]

Those assembled join in the appeal and it is decided to delegate community workers and speakers to each minyon and shtibl in order to organize the religious Jews in the Agudas Shlomeni Emunai Yisroel.

The envoys were welcomed everywhere with great ardor and particularly by the young who aspired to communal life. At that time, the first conference of organized Orthodox Jewry took place in Warsaw. A delegation of several Radomsker young people took part. The conference changed the name of Shlomeni Emunai Yisroel to Agudas Israel.

After the above-mentioned Warsaw conference, the Radomsker organization was reorganized. A permanent committee was chosen which was joined by the majority of the above-mentioned activists and businessmen and some new members such as Reb Y. Granat, Kh. Rapoport, Y. Sztahl, M. Fiszhof, D. Blager, and W. Frank.

Simultaneously a strong youth organization arose, headed by the following young activists: N. Rabinowicz, D. Krakowski, Y. Dunski. Sh. A. Kupersztak, A. Rozencwajg, A. Zelwer, Y. Zandberg, and so forth. And of the survivors, we must remember some activists who are today found in Israel and are here, too, active in communal realms such as Comrade Bornsztajn, H. Liberman (in Jerusalem), Y. Albert, Y. Elboim, Y. Borszkowski (in Tel Aviv).

With the growth of the organization, a woman's organization, Daughters of Agudas Yisroel was founded and a religious workers' organization, Poalei Agudas Israel, each with its own separate managing committee at the head.

All of the organizations carried out effective activities, each in their realm. The Radomsker Agudas Yisroel sent delegates to different conferences of the central committee in Warsaw and also to the Knessia Hagdola (Agudas Yisroel political party conventions) in Vienna and Marienbad (Reb Rabinowicz, Radomsker Rebbe, H. Sh. Krakowski, Y. Berger, and so forth).

Jewish Education and Culture

In as much as ignorance was widespread right after the war, Jewish education was backward and every party was involved with drawing in the adult generation, Agudas Yisroel could not stand aside. With full Hasidic fire it organized a widespread network of education for young boys and young girls in order to educate a religious-nationalist generation.

The well-known Orthodox educational worker Aleksander-Zishye Fridman who immediately helped to create a special commission on matters of education was invited to Radomsk from Warsaw. The commission proceeded at once to collect money, to rent a large apartment and Ysidi Torah, the first modern social-religious school for young boys, was opened in Radomsk. The joy in the city was beyond imagination because for the first time, a modern religious educational institution arose in Radomsk, with comfortable rooms, in which the best pedagogical methods for sacred and secular studies were used. The director Mr. Brumer was at the head. The institution, in fact, graduated a large number of talented students.

Agudas Yisroel began evening or Shabbos lectures in different locations in the city, where Daf Yomi (daily pages of the Talmud), religious laws and so forth was taught by Reb Zelwer, Reb Buki, Y. L. Dunski, H. Sh. Krakowski, D. Y. Zinger, the Reb Rabinowicz, and others. At the conclusion of a tractate of the Talmud, public semester ending parties and gatherings were arranged. At one such conclusion, the head of the Daf Yomi, the Lubliner Rebbe, Reb Szpira, of blessed memory, was specially invited. It is hard to describe the impression made in the city by the appearance of the Lubliner Rebbe. The shul overflowed with men and women from all strata without regard as to party. Reb Szpira mesmerized all listeners with his fiery words. His performance turned into a magnificent demonstration for the strengthening of the Augudist movement in general and for Orthodox education in particular.

Agudas Yisroel was not just concerned with young boys; it was also concerned with the daughters, the future mothers. Reb A. G. Fridenson of Lodz, the famous activist for Beis Yakov, was invited and clarified the importance of a religious-national school system Beis Yakov for girls. His lectures had the appropriate effect and a Beis Yakov school was founded in Radomsk with the best teachers, students who had completed the course of study in the Krakower Beis Yakov Seminary. The head of the Beis Yakov school system, Sara Szenirer, took part in the solemn opening of the Beis Yakov school. The solemn occasion took place in the city theater, which was full. The Beis Yakov school educated a generation of girls in the national-religious spirit.

The Radomsker Agudas Yisroel was also concerned with expanding the Orthodox press, journals and various publications of the organization and together with the Piotrkower Agudas published a weekly newspaper with the well known Warsaw columnist, A. B. Ekerman, as editor. The editor of the Radomsker section of this weekly newspaper was Y. Elboim.

After the Lubliner Rebbe proclaimed the Daf Yomi groshn (pay a groshn each day for each page of Talmud learned), a special commission was established in Radomsk for the Yeshivat Hakhme Lublin, which pursed all of its actions on behalf of the yeshiva, such as distributing pushkes, selling bricks, letters in the Sefer Torah, which was written, etc.

The Political Activity

At that time there was lively political and social activity in Poland. Voting was held for the Seim, Senat, to the City Council and the Kehilus. Agudas united with the secular Jewish community for the Seim and Senat elections and thanks to her cooperation helped elected the greatest possible number of Jewish representatives to the Polish legislature. For the City Council elections, Agudas sometimes acted independently and sometimes joined with other parties and organizations, depending on the issue.

[Page 216]

The organization “Bnus Agudas Yisroel”

First row on top (from the right): Leah Grosman, Hinde Rozenfeld, Ruth Beser,
Dore Dankowicz, Hana Ofman, _____, Tamar Rikhman, Ester Goldberg, Haja Rozenfeld
Bluma Zemel, Zeidman, Haja Faktor, _____, Landau, _______, Ruchl Szimkowicz.

Second Row: Leah Blager, Dore Wertheim, Sara Zilbersztajn, Roze Fajerman, Zosya Rozenblum,
Khana Fiszelewicz, Henye Rapport, Dwoyra Erlik, Zosya Tiberg, Rivkah Goldberg,
Sara Frejlik, Dwoyra Rozencwajg, Ruth Lurya, Erszkowicz, Ruzka Kuperstof.

Third row: Fayge Blager, Perl Nomberg, Tzippe Lutkewicz, Regina Goldberg, Fayge Frank,
Sara Bukhner (teacher), Leah Tenenboim (teacher), Adzia Wolhendler (instructor),
Frida Wroclawski. Gita Frank, Khana Meitlic.

Fourth row: _____, Dobe Kohan, Zlate Moszkowicz, Khana Witznblat, Dina Eibeszic,
Hinde Kamelgarn, Blume Zemel, Guta Goldberg, Roza Fajerman, Perl Elenberg, Bronya Tobiasz.

Bottom: Mindl Wroclawski, Tuba Rozencwajg, Rachel Elenberg, Bela Szaje,
Malka Fajerman, _____, Mindl Ukrant, Yokhoved Kacowicz, Sara Eibeszic.

The deputies from Agudas Yisroel in the City Council (they served for various terms of office) were Y. Szpira, E. Filher, A. Grosman, D. Bugajski, Y. Berger, and others. With pride and respect, they represented general Jewish interests and especially defended Jewish matters and their efforts were successful in obtaining subsidies from City Hall for various general and religious institutions.

Agudas Yisroel was engaged in particularly effective activity during the elections to the Kehile, when it had to compete with other Jewish parties. The primary struggle was whether the Kehile should have a secular-national or a religious-national character. It should be understood that Agudas took the point of view that the Kehile needed to be a religious-national institution and waged an uncompromising struggle in order to receive greater representation in it. Agudas was successful in uniting all of the religious Jews in Radomsk in order to achieve this goal. It introduced to the Kehile (in the Council and managing committee) the eminent community workers H. Sh. Krakowski, A. Grosman, Y. D. Fajtlowicz, Z. Goldberg, Y. H. Tiger, B. Gonszerowicz, D. L. Fajerman, D. Z. Zinger, Y. Y. Zeligman, L. Dankowicz, Y. Berger, Wolf Frenk, Moishe Wajnrych, Dovid Rapaport, and others.

The united religious front truly achieved a victory and succeeded in bringing in a majority to the Kehile agencies, which gave it the ability to do a great deal on behalf of the Jewish population and, particularly in the religious sphere.


Agudas also carried out activities for Eretz-Yisroel, accomplished various actions and collections of money in behalf of the Agudasist Eretz-Yisroel Fund, Keren Hayishuv and the like. During the “Million” Campaign for Keren Hayishuv, the prominent Senator A. Mendelson and the eminent great industrialist, Y. Wojdislawski from Lodz came to Radomsk. A united Keren Hayishuv committee from Agudas Yisroel, Zeiri Agudas Yisroel, and Poalei Agudas Yisroel was elected in the city with Y. Elboim as delegate. This committee administered the work on behalf of Eretz-Yisroel with actions, money collections and the like.

With the growth of the Halutzisher movement, a striving for Eretz-Yisroel filled the ranks of Agudas-Yisroel, too, particularly among the young. Therefore, various hachshara locations arose from Agudas, Tzeiri Agudas-Yisroel and Poalei Agudas Yisroel, where members worked in various ways for immigration to Eretz-Yisroel and later made aliyah with the payment of a grant with Agudas-Yisroel certificates.

Among the older members of Agudas, too, there grew the aspiration to make aliyah, which was strengthened after the repeated trips to Eretz-Yisroel of the Gerer Rebbe. After each trip, a spiritual awakening spread among the Radomsker Agudas members and the ordinary religious Jews. Members Sh. Bernsztajn, (presiding officer of Tzeire Agudas-Yisroel ), Y. Albert, H. L. Liberman with his parents and brother, Y. Borzykowski, M. Kirsz, Y. A. Rozencwajg, M. B. Lehman, Y. Tron, and others made aliyah.

Philanthropic and Economic Activity

Agudas carried on intensive philanthropic activity. It organized various actions and collections in order to assist needy members. An interest-free loan office was founded that distributed small interest-free loans. Of particular importance was the Agudas Bank at the head of which stood Y. Berger as Director. The bank carried out commercial and monetary operations, giving larger loans to merchants and tradesmen.

Both Agudas and its separate organizations, such as Tzeire Agudas-Yisroel and Poalei Agudas-Yisroel carried out impressive widespread cultural and societal activities. The Bnus Yakov were active in the field of education. At the head of the special committee of the Beis-Yakov School were Member Rubinowicz, Member Kalisz, Member Szpira and the Mrs. Berger, Fiszman, Krakowski, Eibeszic, Baszan, Frenk, Zeligman, and others.

[Page 217]

The General Zionists in “Hanoar-Hazioni”

by Yissakhar Minski

Dedicated to the memory of my mother Hana, of blessed memory

The Renewal of the Organization

At the end of the 1920's the Zionist organizations in Radomsk showed no signs of any activism. In the fortress of the organization, in the Agudas Beis-Yakov schools, there remained only the vows of KKL and the traditional Haf-tammuz azkarot (memorials held by Zionist organizations for Herzl and Bialik, who died during the month of Tammuz).

The Zionist organizer Abner Gurfinkl burst from these apathetic conditions. At first he had to carry on his work alone, against the will of the former community workers, who considered themselves as the legitimate leaders of the so-called organization.

Gurfinkl did his work perfectly. Thanks to his devotion the organization came to life. In 1931, it was at work leading the collection of money for the Funds and elected it own councilman, Yosef Zeligman, to the City Council.

A. Gurfinkl. Manaheim Fakhter, Yakov-Yosef Szimkewicz, Haim Hartman, Leib Grundman, Moishe Tuchmajer and Yissakhar Minski belonged to the small group that struggled with great difficulties for a long time. In time, prominent community workers were added, such as Dr. Aronowicz, Herman Rodal, Yakov Witenberg, Yosef Zeligzon, Abraham-Shmuel Goldsztajn, Nisan Sobel and others.

The organization carried out courses in Modern Hebrew and arranged lectures with the participation of local and foreign lecturers.

Through the initiative of the Zionist organization, a division of the youth organization, Hanoar Hazioni, was created in 1933 and in 1938, the Zionist women's organization, Wizo.

During the course of the first two years, Hanoar Hazioni led the group with Minski, Tuchmajer and other members of the Zionist organization. However, later, the movement generated its own leaders, such as Rivkah Bialystok, Gitl Erlik, Miryam Tiger, Dina and Yissakhar Witenberg and others.

Hanoar Hazioni developed strongly and worked with great devotion for the Funds, occupying first place among the Zionist youth organizations in the city, organized courses in Modern Hebrew and controlled the Jewish gymnazie, which earlier was far from Zionism.

The Wizo section was first created in 1938 and immediately from the start many women in the city joined. At the head of Wizo stood the Mrs. Znamirowski, Gruszke, Szpira, Najkron and others.

The outbreak of the war in 1939 brought an end to Jewish social life in our city.

Members of “Hanoar Hazioni (1933)”

Standing (from the right): Fajerman, M. Tuchmajer, Yissakhar Minski, Grosman
In the center: Malka Landau
Under: _____, M. Tiger, A. Gliksman, R. Bialystok

The visit of Yitzhak Grinboim, the Zionist leader and prominent guide of Polish Jewry, will long remain engraved in the memories of the Zionist and ordinary Jews in Radomsk… On alighting from the train, H. Hartman greeted the guest in Hebrew in the name of the reception committee and the group KKL … H. Wolkowicz presided as the chairman of the academy in the Kino reception hall…

The guest gave a two-hour speech about 50 years of Zionist fulfillment…

After a short rest in the apartment of H. Eikhner, the distinguished guest visited the hachshara kibbutz “Histadrut” … After, a meeting took place in the meeting hall of KKL under the chairmanship of H. Kornberg… Nine o'clock in the evening a farewell banquet was held in the apartment of H. Goldberg, in which over 100 people took part, representatives of all of the Zionist groupings and of the Jewish intelligencia

(Excerpts from a report in “Undzer Zeitung”, the 11.12.31 [11 December 1931])

[Page 218]

The Group of “Hashomer Hatzair” (Young Guards)

by Dovid Bugajski

In the years 1915-1916, the first Jewish Scouts organization was created in Radomsk on the pattern of the English Baden-Powell movement.

A wing of “Hashomer Hatzair” in 1921

Top row (from the right): Yakov Szpira, A. Y. Kahn, Y. Damb, H. Rozenblat, Damb, Y. Grosman, Zlatnik, Grosman, Sh, Bialystok
Second row: Devorah Bugajski, _____, A. Grosman, F. Winer, Grosman, _____, Kuferman, Sh. Rubinowicz, K. Bugajski
Third row: K. Buchman, _____, Minska, H. Dudkewicz, Yadwya Bugajski, M. Waksman, S. Witenberg, Winer, A. Grosman, N. Winer
Bottom: M. Bugajski, B. Winer, H. Minski, B. Grosman, E. Bugajski, Rubinowicz

A group of guides from “Hashomer Hatzair” in 1928

Top row (from the right): Chava Warsawski, Rivkah Bugajski, Leah Slamkowicz, Yakubowicz, Krajckop, Henye Pacanowski
Second row: Yadwya Kac, Miryam Pacanowski, Tzipporah Goslawski, Shol Karp, Ruchel Zajdman, Seczemski, Sarah Gliksman
Bottom: Abraham Haze, Yakov Eikhner, Ahron Rotenberg

From the beginning, scouting had an educational character, laying stress on good habits and on physically hardening the young. The scouts instructed each other, made distant excursions in the areas around Radomsk and the like. Those who belonged to the organization were mostly the Jewish students from the gymnazie and the folks-school.

The first instructors were Yakov Zarski, the Koniecpolski brothers, Wajnberg, Zelig Wilhelm, Shlomoh Haze, Gute Szac and her brother, Heniek Winer. At first the scouts met at Telman's on Zeromski Street 1, later at Mineralne 1 and at the end at Meitlic's on Czenstochowska.

With the arrival of Pirchei-Zion (a Zionist youth group at the head of which stood Dovid Gold) and after the scouts joined Hashomer Hatzair, a Zionist spirit began to reign in the organization, of which the religious and assimilated circles were not fond. They felt they were losing influence over the young. In that era, the scout youth met in the Zionist meeting hall Beis Yakov and Ruwin Najkron took over in the Patronat.

The Zionist movement in the city was then weak. They had not shown any great interest in the theoretical and practical problems of Zionism and limited themselves only to collecting money for the Funds.

Another spirit reigned in the guardist group. Here each guard found his home; here he learned Hebrew (with the teacher Khaszczewocki), Jewish History, Geography of Palestine, sang songs from Eretz-Yisroel, danced dances from Eretz-Yisroel. From time to time distant excursions took place during which one over-nighted in tents, cooked and prepared everything oneself. During one of these excursions (next to Zlati Potok – Golden Stream), anti-Semites attacked the camp. However, the youths presented a courageous defense and at the end drove away the hooligans. This excursion was, in general, very successful and left a deep impression on all of the participants.

The specific atmosphere of freedom and joy, which reigned in Hashomer and simultaneously the inner discipline, whose purpose was to harden the young and prepare them for life in Eretz-Yisroel, drew the young boys and girls to Hashomer, which was turned into one of the largest youth organizations in the city.

In time, Hashomer founded a library with Hebrew, Polish and Yiddish books. A dramatic circle was created, managed by Abraham Ofman and a chorus that was conducted by Zaks.

On Chanukah, Hashomer would organize a Chanukah evening of recitations, music, sports exercises, pyramids and the like in a meeting hall of the Kinema, which were warmly received by the population.

The Hashomer had a representative in KKL, in the League for Workers Eretz-Yisroel and took part in the actions of Keren Hisud. During the national yomim-tuvim the guards dressed in uniforms marched over the Radomsker streets in closed rows, which made a great impression on everyone.

[Page 219]

Raised in the spirit of mutual aid, the guards took care of their sick comrade, Matke Pacanowska, with endless devotion. They stood watch by her bed day and night, provided medical and financial aid and when Matke died, despite all efforts, they erected a headstone for their comrade.

Professor Bromberg, who helped organize a guard group in the Jewish gymnazie, did a great deal for Hashomer.

In addition to the educational, cultural and idealistic work, Hashomer did not neglect concrete tasks of life in Eretz-Yisroel. For this purpose, summer camps were arranged in the surrounding villages. They were also sent to hachshara locations (Miryam Pacanowska and Sarah Gliksman). Close contact was maintained with two Hashomer in HeHalutz, who carried out similar work among older members.

It is necessary to remember the activist members among Hashomer Hatzair in Radomsk: Shlomoh Haze, Tzvi Witenberg, Ben-Zion Grosman, Dovid Bugajski, Dovid Wielunski, Abraham Kahn, Yakov Eikhner, Yakov Grosman, Ester Lefkowiczwska, Fela Zilberberg, Leah Czarska, Pola Goslowska, Miryam Pacanowska, Malka Fajerman, Molye Litmanowicz, Rivkah Bugajska, Shmuel Bialystok, etc.

Dozens of guards made aliyah to Eretz-Yisroel and many are found in the kibbutzim today.

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