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[Page 391]

For The Homeland


The Fighters

by Itzhok Berglass

Natives of Strzyzow and their offspring were among the builders of the homeland and among those who fought for her liberation from foreigners. People from Strzyzow participated in every battle of the Israeli Army. I will not write about this subject in a broad form because here, in Israel, fighting for our land is self–understood. I will write only about one incident which occurred in the days of the renewal of the Jewish spirit during World War I which, at that time, was not such a routine occurrence.

Yacov Feingold,
of blessed memory

by Itzhok Berglass

Yacov was among the first who volunteered for the Jewish Brigade. He lived in the United States with his parents, Reb Simcha and Tova. The love of Zion he absorbed at home from his parents and from his brother who organized the Zionists in Strzyzow. Yacov did not only preach Zionism to others but also practiced it himself. Before he left to join the Jewish Army, he spread the idea of volunteering for the Jewish Brigade among all his friends. After World War I, he remained in Eretz Israel, married a daughter from Strzyzow, Ms Tzilah Beller, an off–spring of the Holles family, and lived there all his life.

Translation of the postcard from Yacov Feingold.

To the Laterbaum Sisters

by Itzhok Berglass

Revered comrades! You will surely forgive me for not coming to Newark to take farewell from you. It was simply impossible for me because I was busy propaganding the cause of the Jewish Legion. I am conveying to all of you a hearty goodbye and will return to our land where they may continue to live a free Jewish life. We are leaving New York for a long, long, voyage. Be well. Give my regards to the Silver family and all other friends.

Your comrade.

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Yacov Feingold, of blessed memory, in the uniform of the Jewish Brigade


A postcard from Yacov Feingold to the Laterbaum sisters


[Page 393]

The Casualties

by Itzhok Berglass

The wars and the enemy extracted a bloody ransom from the natives of Strzyzow. A few of them were among those who fell in action. Here are the ones we knew:

Meir Mordechai Gutwirth, of blessed memory. He was nineteen years old. He was one of the first persons from Strzyzow to die in Eretz Israel. Shlomo Yahalomi wrote about him in his article, “Reb Shalom Schwartzman”. According to his spiritual upbringing, he was not an active fighter but he fought for the homeland just by his presence and he fell for the land.

Joseph Asher, of blessed memory
The son who did not forget and will not be forgotten

by Leah Laos

Leah Loos, his cousin, writes about his life and his heroism. Joseph Asher was the grandson of Reb Yeremiah and Liba Asher, and the great–grandson of Reb Chaim Israel and Necha Gitel Sturm from Strzyzow. He was born on September 28th, 1924 to his parents Adela and Shlomo Asher in Breslau, Germany where his parents had immigrated to from Strzyzow. He fell while fighting for the independence of Israel in the battle of Kula on July 16th, 1948.

Joseph the child received both a traditional and secular upbringing. The harmonious family gave him much warmth and love and equipped him with moral values which left their impression on his personality. His happy childhood was disturbed at a very early stage with the ascent of the Nazi in Germany. This proud Jewish child witnessed the brutal persecution of the Jews. He saw with his own eyes the burning of the shul which he regularly attended and his ears heard the songs of the S.S. troops who audaciously marched in the streets of his native town and sand: “when Jewish blood drips from our knives the German heart rejoices”. The injurious humiliation of man and Jew had penetrated deeply and fermented in his gentle soul. The ever–merry and joyful child became taciturn and pensive. He kept quiet, gnashed his teeth and wore his dreams.

Zion was not a strange idea to a child who was raised in a traditional and observant home. The resurging echoes of Zion which was being built anew, reached him through his sisters who belonged to the Zionist Youth Movement. From his father who was a soldier in the Austrian Army during World War I, he heard the tales about military actions, and he dreamt.

He dreamt of reaching Eretz Israel. There, we would have our own army and by that time, he would be a grown man and, as a Jew, he would naturally serve in the Jewish army. His dream materialized. On Passover 1939, he and his family arrived in Eretz Israel. They left Germany with the last train. He easily adapted himself to the new conditions in the land; to the new language and new comradeship. Soon, the gentle and good–looking boy earned admiration and love from all those around him.

Understandably in school, he joined the boy scout organization and

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Joseph Asher


[Page 395]

stood out with his diligence, ability and courage. From the working youth movement he graduated into the Hagenah and there they imposed upon him important duties despite his youth. Most of his time he devoted energy and willpower to those activities. From the Hagana he was sent into the civil guards. There, a brand new chapter began in his life, in the life of the young Joseph. Training with arms, manoeuvres, night watch and galloping on horse throughout the land. He got to know and love every village and isolated settlement with its inhabitants and his body clung with more exaltation to the land, to love and guard her. He was devoted to his duty with all the threads of his soul. When the bloody excesses broke out and after the United Nations decided to divide Palestine, Joseph was the first in Ramat Gan to volunteer his full service to Hagana. His past command position with them prodded him to take this step. When his parents and sisters, worrying for his safety, asked him why he had to be the first, he replied: “without a first, there is no second. And why should I not be the first?”

In the training camp, he was in charge of turning the new illegal immigrants who had just disembarked from ships, into trained Israeli soldiers. There was not another one like him in that job. In the very short time he had at his disposal and out of scared, persecuted, stoop–backed and suspicious people, he produced brave and proud Jewish soldiers. They regained their self–respect and self–awareness and the purpose for which they were being prepared to fight became clear to them.

However, Joseph's effervescent personality did not find satisfaction in what he was doing. He wanted personally to participate in the battles and not just prepared others to fight. He joined a battle unit as a platoon commander and took part in the heaviest battles. Although they were much older than he, all his subordinates admired and revered him. The discipline in his unit was exemplary. His personality enthused his men because he was always the first in every dangerous place.

He was a devoted son and brother, giving all his heart and soul to the family. He often appeared at home on short furloughs to calm his worried family but soon returned to his duty. Ne never talked about his actions and the dangerous situation in which he always found himself.

After the first cease–fire, he took part in a bloody battle with the goal of opening the road to Jerusalem. This was Joseph's last and desperate battle. A small number of men, poorly equipped and without food and water, were defending these hills of Kula. For twenty–four hours, they were surrounded on all sides by the Arab Legionnaires who were equipped with the best English armour and artillery. A hail of bullets and artillery shells came down on that handful of young men and killed them one–by–one.

Joseph fell just a few hours before the second cease fire. He managed to hand over the command to assistant and to say: “Shalom”.

Twenty–eight dear young men were slain on those hills of Kula. A village of Yemenite Jews was established on the hills of Kula and named “Hill of the Twenty–Eight”. The Yemenite rabbi, eulogizing on memorial days, says: “The people of this village, even though they are weak physically, cling to this land with love and stubbornness. Despite

[Page 396]


Michael Kalb


[Page 397]

the difficult conditions of this place, thanks to the inspiration of the ambitious young men who sacrificed their lives to redeem this land from enemy hands for us and our children”.

Joseph's favourite saying used to be: “A homeland is not a piece of land on which one sets a price and bargains over”. And Joseph surely did not bargain over the price.

My brother Michael Kalb,
of blessed memory

by his brother Aryeh

My brother Michael, may G–d avenge his blood, the son of Chaim and Reisl, was born on 18th January, 1931 in Teplice, Czechoslovakia. He made Aliyah with his parents in March 1939. He studied in the Talmud Torah and in the Tachkemoni School in Bat Yam and later studied optometry in Tel Aviv. At the same time, he continued his education in evening courses in the Beni Akiba Gymnasium. He was talented and humble. The diary that he kept since he was six, attests to the fact that he was always examining and judging himself and trying to forge his character to stimulate his duties and respect with devotion to the homeland and the aspiration of the nation. At the age of sixteen, he sought acceptance into the Hagana and, when he became impatient with the delay of a response, he followed his comrades into the underground of the Jewish fighters. He was caught by the British Police posting anti–British proclamations but was released on bail. He spent several weeks philosophically resigned to the punishment he was about to receive. Nonetheless, in his diary, he expressed his confidence that the British rule would not last as long as his sentence. To pacify his family who was fearful for his fate, he arranged a release from the underground and promised to settle in a village after his release from prison. He was sentenced in 1947 to leave town for a year and left to Shfaiyah to join his brother. When five of his comrades were slain by the British near Raanana, he could hardly contain himself, wanting to return to the underground to seek revenge.

After the United Nations' decision to divide Palestine, and then the ensuing Arab riots, he joined the Palmach. He was trained in the Negev. When he was under siege by the Arab Legionnaires, he bore the suffering with love and he later returned to the lowland and took part in the battles. He resisted the suggestion of his superior who wanted to withdraw him from the battles because of his young age and to send him to train as a nurse. He participated in the battles and bore the distress of hunger and thirst and the loss of his best friends, heroically. The boy of seventeen had become a veteran soldier. During the bombardment of Rishon, L'Zion and Hulda, he removed the wounded and the dead from under the rubble without waiting until the bombardment had ceased. On July 7th, 1948, just before the second cease–fire and while standing guard near a bunker in Zirah at the approach to Jerusalem, he was fatally wounded by a bullet from an Egyptian sniper and fell. He was buried in Hulda and his remains were later transferred to Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. May his

[Page 398]


Moshe Lehrman


[Page 399]

soul be kept among the immortal souls of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Moshe Lehrman,
of blessed memory

by Aryeh Kalb

Moshe was the son of Reb Itzhok Lehrman and the grandson of Reb Moshe Krantzler, of blessed memory, from Strzyzow and a descendant of a family of Torah scholars. We will reprint the articles which were written in a pamphlet on his personality and his active life. The pamphlet was published in memory of the fallen in the battle of Dvima on the Jordanian border. This was a surprise attack by the Jordanian murderers from an ambush on seven of our soldiers who were on a routine border patrol.

Moshe was born in 1937 in Tel–Aviv. In his childhood he was an excellent student in the religious school – Moriyah. He was outstanding in studying Gemara and secular studies. From elementary school, he went on to attend the City Religious Gymnasium where he was also among the best students, again mainly in Talmud study where he had shown an immense capability in memory and acuteness. When he reached the seventh grade, he selected a more realistic approach to his studies but did not neglect the holy teachings. He was active in social life and joined the Beni Akiba. After his Master's Degree, he began to study law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Here too he received high grades and earned scholarships. He was beloved by everyone especially by his comrades in military training for which he volunteered in spite of the fact that his physical condition was limited. May his memory be blessed.

Eulogy by Rabbi M. Shapiro

by Aryeh Kalb

Do you remember Moshe! Our last conversation? I asked you to do your daily chores starting from the light ones and gradually shifting over to the hard ones, step–by–step and not tackle the hard ones at once. It is not in a man's character to skip and jump. But you said: “Behold, there is inside me a treasure of strength and energy that are capable of embracing the world. Therefore, I do not want to split them into splinters. I wish to perform one mighty deed in which I could activate all my strength and energy”.

And I claimed that laziness speaks from your throat, that you knew well that there was not any might deed before you. Your only desire was to evade the daily chores. But now, Moshe, with an agitated and broken heart, I come to let you know that you defeated me. You really searched for something high and mighty. You did not dole out your love for the people but you gave all of yourself the way you wanted to do it.

The brutal situation in which a defiled hand cut down the plant that G–d planted, should we divert our furious gaze to the defiled hand?

Come and see the heavenly language about such incidents. Our sages have told us that a Rabbi Akiba's execution, they combed his flesh with iron combs. Is there a more brutal situation than that? A defiled hand combs the flesh of Rabbi Akiba. G–d's martyr? What was the reaction in heaven?

[Page 400]

An echo was heard which said: “Be happy, Rabbi Akiba”. Heaven did not pay attention to the defiled hand but to the cut–down plant. To him it was said: “Be happy”. This was the reaction of Heaven to such a brutal and critical situation. Do you think that only Heaven is capable of reacting that way? People too are capable of reacting the same was as it was further told by the sages that Papus also said: “Be happy Rabbi Akiba that you were caught studying Torah”. Therefore, one can see that humans can also reach such a feeling.

Moshe! In your youth, you opposed everything you did not like, so why are you silent now? Permit me, Moshe to presume that your silence is a sign of your agreement with what I have just said. Therefore, I would not turn to the defiled hand, but to you I will speak with the heavenly language. “Be happy Moshe that you were killed for the sanctification of G–d, the people and the land”. And let us part with the verse: “Go and rest and you will stand by our destiny until the end of the days”.

My comrade Moshe

by Shlomo Levi

Wednesday evening after the murder of the seven in Dvima, I was one of the visitors in the house of the bereaved. An atmosphere of death was all around us. Choked lamentations of disaster pierced the prayers of the people who came to pay respect to the deceased in the parents' house. The picture of the slain son was on the table in the centre of the room as was a letter from the University authorities awarding him a scholarship and a booklet of lectures edited by the slain, along with other mementos. The heart was broken by the rigidity of destiny which cut down the lad in the upswing of his youth. “Moshe is not here anymore”, his father lamented with a broken heart, choking permeated with horror and deep pain, as if unconsciously confirming the fact of which we were all painfully aware.

Moshe, we all remember him. Average height, wide shouldered, his pale face indicating tranquillity, his yarmulke sitting sideways on his sparse hair, his faded glasses and a stubble of a beard. His looks were a little mature for his age. Wearing simple but immaculate clothes, he always walked slightly bent, swaying to both sides. I remember how he walked slowly in the halls of the university, with a slightly dilapidated black leather attaché case, filled with outdated notes.

His inner character matched his outward appearance. Good–hearted, friendly, straight–forward and honest with those with whom he came into daily contact, sensitive in his relations to his fellow men, humble and conservative in his behaviour. These were his traits. He was clear–minded, without deviation or obscurity.

Moshe was Orthodox. However, he was one of the religious young men whose orthodoxy did not interfere with other youthful activities. On the contrary, he was active in sports and took special interest in professional sports literature. His belief was pure and sincere. His piousness

[Page 401]

did not express itself only in a yarmulke or other outward symbols, even though he strictly observed them. His inner belief told him when to alleviate and when to be strict in fulfilment of mitzvoth. However spent time with Moshe in the army, even for a short time, knew that he never used his religiousness as an excuse to lighten his duties.

In his studies he was very fundamental. Being proficient in the Hebrew sources enabled him to obtain acuteness and profoundness in his secular studies. He was not one who studied the same thing a hundred times but one who studied once and fundamentally. The saying of Socrates that: “Informed means to know that you are uninformed” was his motto. He never boasted about his knowledge. He was humble and learned from everyone. No wonder that success followed his life. In the finals in his first year in the university, he won a high scholarship and the same thing happened in his second year. Who knows how far he would have gone? Moshe was one of the students who had to worry about his economic status. The financial situation at home and his high moral standards did not permit him to be supported by his parents. Moshe knew he had to earn a living. His scholarship was not sufficient so he had to spend much of his precious time working. He did not flinch from any physical work and was not selective in his search for a job. This fact was known to all. However, the domain of work did not interfere with the domain of Torah. His work never suffered because of his studying and vice–versa. It was a perfect intertwining between work and learning and he still found time to edit lectures – an activity that existed for years at the duplication centre under the auspices of the Student Union. Moshe invested much labour, energy, perseverance and reliability in editing these lectures. Only he who worked with Moshe side–by–side knew to appreciate his thoroughness in his work, the depth of his understanding and devotion to grammar. The outer appearance was as important to him as the inner text. How angry he became when he discovered a mistake in the text. His good comradeship, his ever–readiness and the spirit of goodwill were his characteristics in every cooperative work. Every step of Moshe was fundamentally planned. Every stage in his progress was subject to his critical evaluation and purposefulness. It is painful and sad that this inclination brought him closer to his death. Moshe was appreciated by the command of his unit. They knew that according to his physical condition, he was not required to participate in certain training exercises, but the voluntary spirit that was throbbing inside him and his ambition made him a good military man.

And so, far from daily pettiness, Moshe met his death. Moshe left this world. The news about his departure hit all his friends and acquaintances like a thunderbolt. On the day of the funeral, friends gathered in the modest quarters of his parents. I was among those who came to express condolences. I felt obligated to say a “few words” but I suddenly realized that I was speechless.

[Page 402]

Tzvi Navon,
of blessed memory

by Shlomo Levi

Tzvi was the son of Eta of the Mohrer family; the grandson of Tzvi Mohrer, one of the intellectuals in Strzyzow of the previous generation. Tzvi was a fighter pilot and was killed in a crash. The greatness of the loss to the Israeli Army was expressed in the condolences of his commanding officer to his family. He said: “Our military is also among the mourners and are in need of consolation”. We are quoting below the eulogy of his friend and the poem by his sister, Chaya who was twelve years–old at the time of his death. It was published in his memory in the youth journal – “Maanit” dated July 1956.

Tzvi Navon, of blessed memory
On the shloshim of his death

by Zalman

A son of the cooperative village of Ein Vered who fell in action.

How cruel destiny is that we, the comrades of Tzvika who accompanied him throughout the years, are required to write the chapter of his short life, the story of Tzvika's life, who only a few days ago was among us. He excelled us with his freshness, energy, smile and good nature.

Tzvika was blessed with many talents with which not every boy is blessed. As a kindergartner, little Tzvika was flexible, alert, his hair shorn like a girl and he became the King of the forest. He climbed and jumped from one tree to another like Tarzan, without mishap. His contours intertwined with the trees. He actually hovered over them. It is possible that then already he possessed the inner push to choose his way in the future. Later in school, he stood out with his talent as a good student. When the class was examined in mathematics or science, Tzvika was happily cruising around outside because the teacher had asked him to, being apprehensive that other students might copy his answers. His high grades were given to him without the need to be examined. He stood out not only in the academic subjects but also in calisthenics and all kinds of sports. Who can forget his walking on his hands to the delight of the whole group, performing somersaults, jumping on boxes with great leaps with the perfection of an acrobat? There was no sport team in which Tzvika would not participate.

Ten years of studying ended and everyone went his own way. Tzvika enrolled in the technical school of the Air Force in Haifa because his inclination was toward a technical profession and science. He was accepted into the school on a scholarship which he received after a difficult examination. In the technical school, Tzvika also became an outstanding student and he decided to join the Air Force after finishing the technical school.

Despite the fact that Tzvika studied in Haifa, he never missed a Sabbath at home. He loved his little brothers, his parents and his comrades on the farm. He enjoyed studying and always told in detail and with great talent about his adventures during the week. We loved to sit around and listen to him. We enjoyed the way he spoke.

[Page 403]


Tzvi Navon


[Page 404]

After graduation, Tzvika did not stay long at home. After a hard struggle with his parents, he volunteered for the Israeli Army. He joined the Air Force and began to put into practice what he had learned. After a short period and with a strong will and effort, he succeeded in achieving his goal. In the Air Force, Tzvika's thoroughness and strong will were discovered and it enabled him to overcome all hardships. How we all rejoiced when the happy moment arrived and he came home adorned with his pilot's wings. A mature young man appeared before us upon whom we all could rely.

And from then on, Tzvika never missed even one Sabbath at home, at the club and with his comrades. Every Friday night, he was the first among the dancers and it was a pleasure to look at him. His dancing was filled with energy and youth, his light movements, his flexibility and his charm. He was the centre of every gathering, and on a Thursday evening, the horrible news was received: “Lieutenant Tzvi Navon fell in action. He was twenty and a half years old”. Woe to us! Tzvika is gone!

To my brother

by Chaya Levin

Fly bird of steel Fly bird of steel,
Fly to the distant clouds. Fly magic bird,
On your wings are resting You enchanted young manhood,
The souls of youths, Pure youth,
Among them one is dancing. Whiteness of youth.
One who jumps about – Keep flying bird of steel.
This is the soul of my brother!
Stars illuminate the night,
The sun illuminates the day,
All, all, all, everything.
All became sad and black.
A star shined, a star fell.
The world became dark.
The world was crushed.
Keep flying bird of steel.

[Page 405]


Aaron, the son of Yacov Kanner


[Page 406]

Aaron, the son of Yacov Kanner,
of blessed memory

by Chaya Levin

The son of a respected and ancient family in Strzyzow – Reb Aaron – his grandfather was the brother of the well–known Reb Yacov Kanner from Strzyzow who settled in Germany where he established a large branch of the Kanner family. All their sons and daughters with their families perished during the Holocaust. We are quoting here the few words which were dedicated to the memory of Aaron, of blessed memory, in the memorial book which was published in honour of the fallen members of Kvutzat Masada in the Jordan Valley of which he was a member.

Aaron Kanner

by Chaya Levin

Aaron was born on July 20th, 1920 in Leipzig, Germany. He was a high school graduate. In his youth he was a member of the Gordonia–Maccabee Hatzair. He was one of the leaders in the movement. His personality served as a role model and an example to others. Just before the war began he moved to Belgium and immediately joined the pioneer movement. When times became critical, he moved to Switzerland. There he became a counsellor to young Zionist groups who had concentrated in that country before making Aliyah. In 1945, as soon as the Swiss borders opened, he immigrated as a member of the “Swiss Group”. He was immediately mobilized to guard duty and defence. He made himself available for the armoured unit and participated in Hagana actions in his district. Aaron was also a supernumerary policeman. He studied in military theory and, during the bloody Arab excesses, participated in the battles for the Galilee and the Jordan Valley. He fell in Zemach on May 18th, 1948 during the decisive battle over the Jordan Valley. He was laid to rest in the cemetery in Dganiyah Alef.

Chanan Abraham Kalb,
of blessed memory

by Chaya Levin

With sorrow we had to add one more victim who fell for the Homeland. He was a member of a family who had already lost one son about whom it was written in a previous chapter. Chanan Abraham, of blessed memory, was the son of Aryeh Yehuda and Rachel Kalb, a grandson of Reb Chaim Itzhok and Shoshana Kalb. A native of Jerusalem. He died at twenty–three while escorting an excursion group of students from Herzlia Gymnasium on the eleventh of Adar, 1948. Their auto bus drove over a landmine in Minchol Rechem. He was a second lieutenant in active duty, an engineer, sportsman, dancer, lover of nature and scenery. A wonderful son to his parents, brother and comrade to his two sisters. A delightful person full of energy, straightforward and beloved by everyone. He left for another world. May his memory be blessed.


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