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[Page 122]

Zionists Movements

Translated by Jerrold Landau


Hechalutz Movement in Ruzhany

At the end of the First World War, the echoes of the call of Hechalutz to the young people of our nation to arise, make aliya and build up the Land of our Fathers began to reach the town. There was already a Hechalutz group in Ruzhany in 1920, which had its headquarters with Yehuda the Printer (“Der Drucker”) on Liznajer Street. Courses in Hebrew and the study of Zionism took place in that room. However, matters did not reach the point of aliya, and the activity quieted down.

The actual Hechalutz chapter in Ruzhany went through different phases of development. It was first established in 1924. The youths of Hashomer Hatzair in the town had graduated from the movement and felt that the time for actualization had arrived. In those days, a Keren Kayemet (Jewish National Fund) convention took place in Warsaw, in which Yosef Abramovich served as the delegate of Hashomer Hatzair from Ruzhany. At this convention, the call of Mrs. Ben-Dror was issued to set up local Hechalutz chapters in places where none existed. Yosef returned from the convention and founded the Hechalutz chapter in Ruzhany along with Leibel Ziskind, Yaakov Kletzki, Yehudit Sokolovsky, and Fruma Ditkovsky.

ruz122.jpg [19 KB] - A group of seamstressess of Hechalutz in Ruzhany
A group of seamstressess of Hechalutz in Ruzhany

Standing right to left: Rivka Shapira, Fruma Ditkovsky, Pitkovsky, Sonia Rizkin, Hodel Rabinowich, Yehudit Sokolovsky.
Sitting: Gisha Rudetsky, Bilka Brazovsky

Hachshara farms in our area still did not exist, but two of the aforementioned Hechalutz organizations and Rivka

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Shapira organized a pioneering group of female seamstresses, who advertised regarding various sewing jobs in the town -- something that left a great impression in Ruzhany.

ruz123.jpg [35 KB] - Tel Chai Hachshara Kibbutz in Michlin
Tel Chai Hachshara Kibbutz in Michlin

First row, standing right to left: Aharon Egolnik, – , Chaim Isser Abramovich, Heshel Gezbah, Sonia Kaplinsky, Efraim Gustovcki, – , – , – .
Second row: Yosef Rushkin, – , Rivka Kluchky, Itzel Chwojnik, – , – , – , – , Yosef Abramovich, Yosef Kaplan.
Third row: – , – , Bilka Brazovsky, – Fruma Gustovcki.

Yaakov Kletzki, a member of the committee and a candidate for aliya, traveled to the regional convention of Hechalutz in Pulsia, which took place after some time in Brest Litovsk. However, when three certificates were later received, he and the other two youths were not able to travel, since their age made them eligible for the draft and therefore they were unable to obtain passports for the journey. Yehudit Sokolovsky, Fruma Ditkovsky, and Gisha Rudetski (today in Afula, and her sister is in Kfar Yechezkel) went in their place.

After their aliya, the Tel Chai Hachshara Kibbutz was set up in the village of Michlin. The members of the kibbutz tried their hands at all types of difficult labor in order to prepare themselves for hard work in the Land.

A short time later, an additional group of young women went on aliya to the Land: Dvora Itzkowich (Givat group), Rivka Kletzki, Raya Kaplinski (in Moshav Mishmar Hashiva), and Rivka Shapira.

The influence of these olim left their imprint on the youth and instigated a growing influx to Hachshara. However, the crisis in the Fourth Aliya[1] somewhat dampened the enthusiasm of those who aspired to actualization. The activities in the chapter once again weakened.

However, the enthusiasm of the students of the Tarbut Hebrew School and the members of the Zionist youth movement, in whom the spirit of aliya and upbuilding had already been absorbed in their blood, did not cease. The elders of Hashomer Hatzair renewed the activity of Hechalutz in the winter of 1929. The members of the new committee were:

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Yona Epshteyn, Yudel Sokolovsky, Elka Rubinowich, Chinka Grabolsky, Miriam Epshteyn, and Motel Katz. The teacher Nybursky assisted them greatly. Nachum Alperstein, Gedalia Epshteyn of blessed memory, and may they live long -- Zeev Rushkin and Rivka Bashin were active later.

ruz124.jpg [16 KB] - Committee of the Hechalutz chapter in Ruzhany, 1929
Committee of the Hechalutz chapter in Ruzhany, 1929

Standing right to left: Motel Katz, Miriam Epshteyn, Elka Rubinowich, Chinka Grabolsky, Yudel Sokolovsky.
Sitting: the teacher Yitzchak Nybursky

Life in Hechalutz was vibrant. The lively debates and the Hebrew songs from the Land of Israel strengthened the longing of the members for the homeland and their aspirations toward actualization. Guest speakers were invited, and we drank up their words with thirst. Herschel Pinsky and others visited us. We arranged lectures, celebrations and memorial days. For example, there was the Trumpeldor celebration, which took place on 11 Adar 1931, where Yehoshua Vishnitzer and Ben Porat from the Hachshara farm in Iwacewicze spoke. These were hours of internal awakening and an ascent of the soul. Many of the members of Hechalutz then went out to Hachshara in Iwacewicze, Janów, and Shacharia[2], and actualized their aspirations not in words, but rather in deeds by following their Hachshara with aliya. At that time the following people made aliya: Zeev Rushkin, Rivka Bashin, Beilka Shipitzki, David Pitkovsky, David Noach Gvurin, and -- may they rest in peace -- Nachum Alperstein of blessed memory who died two years ago, and Shmuel Rubinowich of blessed memory who fell in Ramat Hakovesh during the War of Independence in 1948.

Later olim included Yosef Egolnik, Fruma Gustovsky, Elka Rubinowich, Yosef Abramovich, and Meir Sokolovsky. Most of them made aliya as tourists, with the intention of remaining in the Land and not leaving it. Meir Sokolovsky made aliya as a student of the Hebrew University, which provided special certificates for its students that were not included in the meager general quotas that were known as “Shadiul” in the lingo of the Mandate.

From Y. Abramovich, A. Rubinowich, and Z. Rushkin.

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ruz125.jpg [32 KB] - Hechalutz organization in Pulsia
Hechalutz organization in Pulsia

First row, standing right to left: Esther Shemes, Yudel Sokolovsky, Shimon Sydlenitsky, Nachum Alperstein, Sheindel Ett, Roza Egolnik, Hinda Klebensky, Chasia Ett.
Second row: Yaakov Pitkovsky, Liba Zemach, Gedalia Epshteyn, Sonia Levinov, Motel Bayr, Berl Ett, Chaim Sapir, Noach Gvurin, Hershel Kolodany, Meir Yidel Itzkowich, Gashelwich.
Third row: Teibel Alperstein, David Pitkovsky, Feigel Pripstein, Zeev Rushkin, the teacher Yitzchak Nybursky, Mulia Rubinowich, Moshe Lissibitsky, David Zakheim, Yone Epshteyn.
Fourth row: Kreina Zakheim, Breina Burovsky, Shlomo Pitkovsky, Tzadok Skolnik, Miriam Epshteyn. Fruma Gustovcki, Sheindel Joselwicz, Dvora Pitkovsky

“HaIvri”, 1919 (14)

Translator's Footnotes
  1. The Fourth Aliya is the wave of immigration to Palestine from 1924 - 1929. During its latter period, Arab riots took place in Palestine. return
  2. A Hachshara kibbutz near Kobrin. return

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