Transliterated by Susan Rosin
The immigration to Eretz Israel intensified during 1933 1934. It also included hundreds of immigrants from Stryj: Pioneers (halutzim), members of youth organizations and middle class families. Many of the Stryj immigrants encountered difficulties in finding work and a place to live when they first arrived. During this period of enhanced immigration it was easier to find a job than finding an apartment or a room. The official Yishuv institutions and various party organizations did all they could, but in many cases the assistance they provided was not sufficient in helping the new immigrants during their initial period in the new country. The Stryj immigrants needed much support and encouragement upon their arrival.
Among the more established Stryj immigrants who arrived earlier were many who were willing and able to assist the newcomers. In TelAviv, Berl Stern was prominent in his willingness to assist the new immigrants. His two room apartment on Maccabi street was a first stop for many of the Stryj new arrivals, where they could stay for a while. This was very meaningful and of great importance in those days. For years his apartment was a meeting place for those from Stryj, both the new arrivals and those who were already established and it served also unofficially as an information and resource center and mutual aid.
In time, when the number of Stryj newcomers grew it became clear there was a need for both moral and material support for them. As a result, the Stryj organization was established to provide a more streamlined and formal assistance.
The first meeting to establish the The Organization of Former Stryj and Surrounding Areas residents in Israel took place in November 1934 in TelAviv. Dr. Emanuel Rechter was elected as the chair person, and the executive committee members were: Meir Frankel, Berl Stern, Yehuda Lustig, Moshe Weiss, and Yaakov Boymel. The tenure of the first executive committee was short, but the assistance for the new arrivals did not stop and was most notably given by those members who were already established in public and financial institutions and were in positions to help with loans and with finding work.
Up until the start of the Second World War the Stryj people used to gather once a year in TelAviv during the Purim holiday to meet, exchange information and take photos.
In 1942, when information started to come in about the Stryj refugees in Russia the organization renewed its activity. The committee contacted the Jewish agency in an effort to get the names, addresses, and information about the fate of the Stryj refugees. Immediately after receiving the information, a shipment of clothing and food was organized to the Stryj remaining Jews who were exiled to the Siberian wilderness.
At the same time news started to arrive about the systematic extermination of Europe's Jewry.
World Jewry and the Yishuv in Eretz Israel started to plan rescue missions. However, due to the positions of the main power players and the British, these efforts were very minimal at best.
After the triumph of the allies and Russians, and the retreat of the German army from the territories they occupied, the full scale and the horror of the mass murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and their helpers in Europe was uncovered.
Conditions for an organized and an allencompassing operation to rescue the survivors returning from Russia to Poland and Germany became feasible only in 1944.
The Yishuv demanded that the British mandate authorities allow the immigration of the survivors in the displaced persons camps in Europe. Despite of the British opposition, the Yishuv's highest institutions made the decision to bring these refugees to Eretz Israel. Thus began the struggle between the Yishuv institutions and the British mandate authorities for the right to bring the surviving refugees to their homeland.
At the same time, organizations of the various Jewish communities in Eretz Israel started to organize as well in order to assist and support their hometown's survivors.
In September 1944 a meeting of the Stryj organization was held. Avigdor Rottfeld in his opening remarks stressed the urgent need to broaden and expand the activity of the organization. The roles of the organization were defined as:
After a lengthy and lively discussion the following action items were decided upon: Fund raising among the former Stryj residents in Israel, an appeal to Stryj residents in the US, fixed monthly dues, establishment of secondary organizations in Haifa and Jerusalem, creating a card catalog of all previous Stryj residents, personal assistance to the needy, scheduling the next full meeting and drafting policies and regulations.
A meeting in Haifa of the former residents of Stryj took place on October 28th, 1944. Dr. Zvi Heller, the representative of Poland's former residents as well as representatives of the TelAviv Stryj chapter participated.
Three major goals of the organization were established:
Starting in 1943 a commemorative gatherings for Stryj martyrs were held in TelAviv and sometimes in Haifa. The community and its martyrs were eulogized by dr. Joseph Shilo (Schuster), Avigdor Rottfeld, dr. Nathan Kudish, Shimon Rosenberg and dr. Mordechai BarLev.
The gatherings were an opportunity to meet former residents from all over the country. Every year, the organization's committee and its chairperson were elected. The committee membership did not changed much in recent years. The members were: Avigdor Rottfeld chair person, Meir Kaz treasurer, dr. Joseph Shilo (Schuster) zI (passed away in 1958), Shimon Rosenberg, dr. Nathan Kudish, dr. Ada BarLev, dr. Mordechai BarLev, mgr. Yaakov Waldman, mgr. Zisia Lentz, Yehuda Lustig, Israel Pikholtz, Israel Gartenberg, Abraham Stern, mgr. Itzhak Nussenblatt, Moshe Weiss and Chaim Preiss.
Haifa's chapter committee members were: Menachem Walter, Menachem Hobbel, David Honnig, Munia Kliger, dr. Lindbaum, D. Golding, Moshe Agrat, Joseph Gliecher, Itzhak Engelman, Itzhak Fruchter. The Jerusalem's committee members were: Chaim Neiman, Arye Hobel, and Shoshana Carmel.
Two subcommittees were established:
In recent years additional Stryj survivors began arriving in Israel and some of them needed assistance. Due to that reason and to coincide with the publication of the Stryj Yizkor book, the organization revitalized.
The Stryj organization was part of the former Poland Residents organization.
The Stryj organization felt the importance of its public activity and was encouraged by the support of the many former Stryj residents who live in Israel.
Transliterated by Israel Pickholtz
The surnames in this list are more or less in alphabetical order in Hebrew.
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