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[Page LIX]

A Town of Jews

by Ephraim Schreier

Who is left of us to set forth the story of the Jews in our town, families and individuals, the prominent and the anonymous, scholars and the untutored, before the First World War, or the elders of the community after it?

Let us recall some of them, some whom we knew, others about whom we heard.

Abraham Allerhand belonged to one of the most famous families. He was purveyor to the royal court in Vienna, supplying hay for its stables. People said that whenever Prince Karl came to Colomeia to inspect his regiment, he would stroll with Allerhand arm in arm.

Yossel Inzlicht (Old Man Yossel), stout, with a Nordau–type beard, was one of the town's first Zionists, as was the Inzlicht family in its entirety.

Hirsch Avner also belonged to this group, as did the Streit families. Abba Seifer, Binya and Itzi Epstein, Moti Knol – tried and true Zionist orators and dreamers. The elders whom we didn't know personally included Meshulam Stern, Tzadok Diesel, Yehuda–Chaim Schweffelgeist, Shlomo Wolf Knol, Shaia Kaner. But we knew the names well: Srul Baal–Shem and his wife Mishke, the daughter of Yehuda–Ber, son of Yossel Teivel, the Religious Magistrate of Tismnenitz, and Moshe Eisner father of the Religious Magistrate Notte–Shmuel.

We had several highly respected merchants: Shmuel Hibschman, David Malach and his son Chaim, Elo Ritzer, Urcho Ritzer, Chaim and Yankel Shochet, and Yanchi Bentzi – a tall, thin man, pug–nosed, the shamash of the synagogue.

We remember our elders of the years after the war: Aizik Landman, Mendeli Neeman, Avrohom Yitzhak Heisler, Moshe Shapiro, Wolf Heinitz, Hirsch Haberman, Shlomo Nagel berg, Herzl Inzlicht, Hirsh Dub, Moshe Fish, Hersh Toren, Shlomo Hazan, the teacher from Niezhniew.

And there were the simple folk, everyday Jews, good humored. Leib Kleiner (“Whenever I see a funeral, I look toward Horodenko River,” he

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used to say – in the opposite direction, that is). There was Yossel Lepold and Yentel Loitman, about whom it was said that he told his family, standing around his death bed, “My dear people, I feel sorry for all those who remain alive, and I am all by myself.”

We remember Huno Rechter, the orchard watchman, and Herzl Streit, Friedle and Shimon and Hanna the scribe's daughter, Lipshe, Hiller the bookbinder. Not all of them were fortunate enough to live out their lives. Their fate was like that of their children and grandchildren.

Shloimeh the Cobbler

by Ephraim Schreier

It has been raining for days – an autumn rain, thin, drizzly, endless. The puddles in our black earth are a nuisance. The air is thick with the smoke from the chimneys. Leaden clouds give promise of an angry fall.

Shloimeh the cobbler's house stood near the old high school building. Rain dripped from the greenish roof on to the bare clay of the walls and ran in rivulets down the windows.

A large throng crowded about the house; among the gathered were many women, wrapped in their kerchiefs. Shloimeh Tambor was also there – a sign of evil tidings. Yes, Shloimeh the cobbler was dead.

He was a simple Jew, and his livelihood came from the awl and the cords. He was a cobbler – a quiet, humble man, never complaining about others, always content with his lot. The innocence of childhood lay calm in his eyes. He was short, thin, and wiry. Early morning saw him hurrying to the first minyan. His wrinkled olive–colored face was adorned with a curled flaxen beard. On the Sabbath, Shloimeh put on his old threadbare caftan, his mink shtreiml, and enjoyed greeting everyone he me with the “Good Sabbath” benediction. Shloimeh never came back from the synagogue by himself. He was always surrounded by indigent Jews who knew that a well–laden table was waiting for them in Shloimeh's home – even lodging if necessary. Sometimes an unexpected guest came along, and Shloimeh would give him his own bed and he himself slept on the floor. His home had only one room and a bed chamber attached to it, but everything was spotless. The walls shone bright with whitewash, and they were covered with brass plates and family pictures. A depiction of the Western Wall, in colorful thread, adorned the house. Shloimeh and his wife Toiva waited on their guests, their tired faces shining with pleasure. The Sabbath zemiros came through from his window until late in the night. On Saturday night

[Page LXI]

There was a Melave Malka gathering in the pale light of the wick–lamp. Between one sip and the next, the guests would tell wondrous tales about all sorts of things that happened to them, or about miracles that brought sudden wealth, with God's help, to people penurious and impoverished. As they talked, their hands kept reaching for the bowl of chickpeas and beans on the table. A glass of tea rounded out the gathering. Shloimeh listened far more than he talked, and his face was aglow with pleasure, as he looked at each of his guests.

I often thought that if the thirty–six righteous men really existed, Shloimeh was doubtlessly one of them

Shloimeh Tambor called out “Righteousness shall precede him!”, and the beggars walked on, carrying the coffin of Shloimeh their friend.


by Ephraim Schreier

Tchome was an eccentric, if there ever was one. Some of his characteristics bordered on sickliness. He was a compulsory talker, to himself if no one else was around. He collected autographs and photographs of famous people, and he loved riding in trains; whenever he saw a train about to pull out, he would steal aboard, without ascertaining its destination. He never bought a ticket. The ticket inspectors knew him well and simply got him out at the next station. There he would wait for the next train and board it, even if all it did was bring him back to his starting point. As long as he rode in a train.

Tchome was a fervent Revisionist and a great admirer of Jabotinsky. He followed the Revisionist leader like a shadow. Once Jabotinsky chastised him for traveling without a ticket, to which he replied, “The train is not running for my sake. It would run without me, too.”

Tchome attended every Zionist Congress, every conference, every funeral of an important person. When he heard that Yaacov Pistiner died in Rumania, he took the train and got to the funeral in time. Boundaries meant nothing to him.

In time Tchome had a large collection of autographs and photographs, from all over the world. He even brought the collection with him to Palestine. Here it was lost because of his difficult living conditions.

Tchome was known for his forthrightness. When Mayor Marian Shankowski wanted to tear up a row of trees, for some purpose, Tchome raised his voice in protest, without results. The trees were uprooted, and all

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Tchome could do was to write a eulogy about them in the local illustrated newspaper. The eulogy was quite original and amusing.

He did fulfill his love for travel. When he reach Palestine, he spent his last twenty years working as a waiter.

Yisroel “Cuba”

by Ephraim Schreier

Everyone in Tlumacz, it seems, knew Yisroel “Cuba”. He was not demented, but his brain simply had not matured. Yisroel was the town factotum; without him the homes and housewives could not have existed. If you wanted your furniture turned around, or if you needed a bucket of water, a load of coal, or had to take a parcel to the railway station, Yisroel was there to do it.

His miserable outward appearance, his twisted speech and queer laugh aroused derision and pity.

He walked about dressed in sackcloth, a stiff hat on his head, a cigarette dangling from his lips. He was obedient, and for his work he would get a few pennies or a meal. People were careful not to irritate him. Whenever he flew into a rage, they ran. The women would finally quiet him, with an affectionate “Srulik”. How he got the name “Cuba” no one knows, but it became a name associated with fools and half–wits.

Yisroel had desires of his own. He always talked about his fondness for Celia Haber. He wasn't fond of anyone else.

After the First World War he worked for a cheder melamed as a teacher's helper. Once he had to take one of the children to his home on Tismenitz Street. He put the child on his back and trudged with him to the nearby village of Tismenitz

Yisroel would have liked to live peacefully in his little house, but the Soviets were too much for him. He couldn't get used to the “socialist freedom” which they brought into the town. Were it not for the people he knew, he would have been an outcast. Worn out and ailing, he soon passed away.

Mendl the Water Carrier

by Ephraim Schreier

The image of Tlumacz would not be complete without its water carrier – Mendl the Water Carrier.

Mendl and his wife Sheindele were an ideal couple. He was stocky,

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his beard covered most of his visage, his teeth were few and far between, and his lips were never without a pleasant smile. Sheindele was even shorter, rotund, with flushed cheeks and large eyes that had the look of a dead fish. He carried water and she plucked feathers. A model couple.

Mendl was na´ve but he like to be a know–it–all, quoting epigrams and anecdotes.

He looked the same summer and winter – two thick arms thrust into long sleeves, his figure bent under the weight of the yoke and the two water buckets. He was forthright, serene, content with his lot, a Buntche Schweig type. Unlike Buntche, who dreamt of a buttered bagel, he dreamt of wealth like Herzl Inzlicht had, not for himself but to give to the poor.

Mendl's smile was a combination of contempt for the frivolities of wealth with a philosophy of taking life with a pinch of salt.

Tlumacz Jewry and the Nationalist Movement

by Munio Wurman

Jews settled in Tlumacz and were welcome there because of their expertise in trade and the crafts, which the authorities sought to develop. They quickly organized themselves into a community, with elected leaders and councils. The larger towns represented on the regional and state councils of the Jewish community elected the Jewish “senate”, which fixed the per capita and the other taxes which were apportioned among the regional councils. Tlumacz was part of the Rusbazlaw region and, like many other communities, was always in debt.

The religious court was administered by the rabbis of the national councils: the Rabbi of Lemberg, or the opposing candidate in Buczacz or Tarnopol. The Community Council was the supreme body dealing with legislation and education. Schooling was on a low level.

The incorporation of the territory as Galicia, following the division of Poland, did not improve the lot of the Jewish population, under the high–handed rule of the affluent community “bosses”. The masses therefore responded to the controversial Sabbatai Zvi movement, the Franckists, and later to Hassidism. Regrettably, there is little information about the effects of these movements on the Tlumacz community, which was immersed, in those days, in the quest for livelihood. Tlumacz did not have either

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Renowned rabbis or Hassidic admorim. The well–known rabbis who did serve Tlumacz soon went on to larger and more prosperous communities. During the reign of Maria Teresa and Josef I there was little change in the lives of the Jews in Tlumacz. Although, in accordance with the edict of Josef II (1788) a Judische Normalschule was founded also in Tlumacz, most of the Jews did not send their children there, for fear of assimilation. A century later, Baron de Hirsch established a school in the town, intended to furnish the Jews with a broad base of schooling and scholarship.

The stimulus given the community by the Sabbatai Zvi movement and Hassidism sought its outlet in the Zionist movement. Moshe Hess, through his book Rome and Jerusalem, Moshe Leib Lilienblum and Leo Pinsker in his Auto–emancipation, gave rise to the Bilu student organization and the Hovevei Zion circles.

Soon organizations of Zionist youth cropped up in Tlumacz as they did in the large cities: Lemberg, Tarnow, Cracow, Colomey, Stanislawow and Tarnopol. Associations formed in the 1880's held conferences and conventions. Monthlies, weeklies and even dailies called for a struggle against assimilation and fought for equal rights and for making the youth more productive. Among these associations were “Ahavat Zion”, “Mikveh Kodesh”, “Przyslosc” (The Future), “Wschud” (The East). The songs of Feld (“There Where the Cedars”) and Nussing (“Hearken My Brethren”) were the mottos. The assimilationists put out a periodical of their own (1870), “Zgoda” (Peace), with a Hebrew supplement, “Ojczyzna” (Homeland).

In December 1897 Adolf Stand convened a conference in Galicia. Its 60 delegates first learned that an association called “Tikvat Zion”, with a membership of 150, had been functioning in Tlumacz for several years.

Even prior to the first Zionist Congress in Basel, 60 Jewish communities in Galicia were affiliated with “Ahavat Zion” – 85 branches (in eastern and western Galicia), two workers' associations and two women's societies (Die Welt, 1897). On June 26 and 27, 1897, a regional conference was held in Stanislawow. It was chaired by Dr. Salat, and opened by Rabbi Schreier of Bohoroczany (a relative of Ephraim Schreier). He was the only elderly participant. The others were young people, mostly students. The regional conference elected a new central committee. Tlumacz was represented by Yaacov Inzlicht, then already a known Zionist worker. According to the second Zionist Congress records, Tlumacz had a sizable Zionist organization (140 shekel purchasers). The Tlumacz group was headed by Meshulam Stern (Later the father–in–law of Dr. Rosenkranz).

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Stern was the Tlumacz delegate to the 1898 conference, held in Colomey, then the center of the Zionist organization for Galicia and Bucovina.

A regional convention was held in Stanislawow in October, 1898. Yitzhak Fruhling of Tlumacz was a member of the presidium. In 1900, Dr. Korkis of Lemberg held a census of the Zionist Organization (75 branches), Tlumacz among them, “Ahavat Zion”, with its headquarters in Tarnov, had 90 branches; it engaged only in furthering Jewish settlement in Eretz–Israel. In 1903, “Poale Zion” began publication of its periodical, Der Yiddischer Arbeiter (The Jewish Workingman); Shmuel Inzlicht of Tlumacz was one of its two editors, and together with Nathan Gross and Kaplinsky, put out the newspaper's supplement.

In 1900, Shlomo Schiller, a refugee from Bialystok, then under Russian rule, published an article in “Wschud” (No. 17), in which he opposed political Zionism, favored continued existence in the Diaspora, and complained about the weakening of the Zionist spirit in the Jewish community. Yaacov Inzlicht published a reply in No. 20 of the periodical, in which he placed the blame on shortcomings of the organization's center in Colomey. He lauded the intellectual forces available in Lemberg, but claimed that they were inactive, had no contact with the masses, and were not enjoying the confidence of the public; they could have won seats in the Austrian Parliament. He referred to Dr. Stand's letter to Herzl, in which he expected the Jews to gain achievements in Parliament, despite the reactionary election system and the division into curiae, because in quite a few towns and business associations the Jews constituted a majority.

In the same article, Inzlicht urged that the Yiddish language be used in recruiting Zionists in the smaller towns, and cultural activities be instituted by the Zionist Organization, as the instrument for obtaining greater public support.

In 1905, the conference convened in Lemberg decided to apply to the royal court and the Parliament for recognition of the Jews as a people. This move met with strong resistance on the part of the assimilationists, headed by Dr. Emil Bick of Lemberg. In the same year, Dr. Bick convened a conference of the community representatives. The Zionists demanded representation; Dr. Bick refused. On the day of the conference, which was scheduled to be held in the hall of the Lemberg Jewish Community Center on Bernstein Street, masses of Jews milled about the area. After the addresses by Dr. Bick, Dr. Pardes and Leon Reich, the masses burst into the hall and tried to halt the deliberations. Dr. Bick called on the Austrian police to clear the hall, leaving there but the 24 delegates from the com–

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munities, half of them from Lemberg itself. Dr. Bick introduced the delegate of the Tlumacz community – Yaacov Inzlicht. The latter assailed Dr. Bick, claiming that the Jews had no faith in him and were opposed to his politics and to his efforts to gain favor with the Polish faction in the Viennese Parliament. Dr. Bick asked the police to remove Yaacov Inzlicht from the premises.

Tlumacz played an important role in the pre–Herzlian Zionism, before the first Zionist Congress and the publication of Der Judenstadt. Nor did the Zionist workers in the town restrict themselves to local activity. Among those who ranged far and wide to spread the Zionist message were Yaacov and Shmuel Inzlicht and their father, Meshulam Stern, Yitzhak Fruhling, Pinhas Haller, as well as Shalom Streit. The latter, born in 1889, wrote for the Hebrew periodical Hamizpeh, at the turn of the century, and went to Palestine in 1908 (see separate article on Shalom Streit). Before him came Fishel ben Yaacov Kastelman of Tlumacz.

In the 1907 elections to the Austrian Parliament the Zionists won three seats, one for Brody, another for Buczacz and Tlumacz combined, and the third for Chortkow. The electioneering campaign was aided by the visits to Tlumacz of Dr. Nathan Birnbaum, Adolf Stand, Rabbi Mordechai Braude and Gershon Zipper. The assemblages consisted of a Zionist majority, as a rule; only in the 1911 elections did the Zionist lose their seats to the assimilationists, who used all kinds of stratagems and were aided by the town administration. The strife resulted in scores of fatal casualties.

The beginning of the 20th Century witnessed ferment in the Jewish communities: the electoral strife for Parliament seats and the Congresses, the struggle for the control of the communities, dispute between political and practical Zionism. Russian Jewry was oppressed with pogroms. More and more Jews immigrated to America. Theodor Herzl had died. All these events made their impress on Tlumacz, which also had local matters to engage its attention: the construction of the railway, building the high school, erection of the military barracks, opening of a school for agronomy and vocations, founding of the Baron Hirsch school and the elementary school, the local emigration to America, the bankruptcy of the sugar refining plant, establishment of the Hebrew school in 1906 (“Safa Berura”, with an enrollment of 80 and taught by Kleinman). These items were enough to keep Tlumacz busy, before the outbreak of the First World War. The struggle to keep the community on an even keel was led by the Inzlicht brothers, Shalom and Yaacov Streit, Meshulam Stern, Hersch

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Abend, Pinhas Haller, Yehoshua and Joel Redner, Yitzhak and Pini Epstein, Abba Zeifer, Schlesinger, Getzel Spirer, Tytman.

The war wrought changes in the lives of Tlumacz's Jews. Part of the populace fled along with the retreating Austrian army, all the way to Czechoslovakia, Moravia, Hungary and Vienna. Some of the males served in the Austrian army, while their families received subsidy. Those who remained in Tlumacz were in constant fear of the Cossacks in the Russian army. They were suspected of spying for the Austrians (some were executed for it), and they had to pay ransom, as well as suffering pillage of their possessions and even deportation. Their homes were demolished. By 1916, Pinhas Haller was the only community worker left in Tlumacz.

Caught in the maelstrom of the crumbling Austria–Hungarian Empire and “Western Ukraine”, the Galician communities fought to stay alive. In December of 1918, a national Jewish council of more than 100 communities were convened to formulate ways and means for restoring communal life, particularly in education (Pinhas Haller and Dr. Bandler represented Tlumacz). The central Ukrainian authorities were interested in promoting the council's program, for reasons of international relations, but the local authorities, permeated with anti–Semitism, instigated riots and cause damage to the Jewish population. Tlumacz was able to escape most of this persecution thanks to the good relations between its Jews and the local inhabitants as well as due to Dr. Makuch of the Ukrainian secretariat, who strove to prevent anti–Jewish riots in Tlumacz.

In 1919, as the Ukrainians withdrew and were replaced by the Poles, Jewish life began to return to normalcy. Hersch Nagelberg assumed community leadership. A year earlier, 23 rabbis published a call for settlement in Palestine. Rabbi Ziff of Tlumacz was among the signatories.

As help began coming from America, the community came to life. “Konsom”, a consumer cooperative was formed. “Poale Zion” and the “Bund” renewed their activities. A drama circle was founded. Quite a few young people went to settle in Palestine. Despite its economic worries, Tlumacz took active interest in public affairs. This was given impetus by the November 1922 elections to the Polish Sejm. Competing for the Jewish vote were, in addition to the Zionists (List 16), also the “Bund” “Poale Zion” and the assimilationists who, even with the help of the Poles, received only 2619 votes throughout eastern Poland and didn't win a single seat. The “Bund” and “Poale Zion” lists also received an insignificant number of votes. The country wide Zionist list, on the other hand, gained 34 seats, of which 3 were from the Tlumacz region. Interestingly enough, some of the Ukrainians, unwilling to recognize Poland's eastern borders,


voted for the Zionist list, although they had a Ukrainian list of their own. In Tlumacz, about 90% of the Jewish vote went to the Zionists.

With the return of normalcy, the Hebrew school resumed its activities, as did the Jewish National Fund and Keren Hayesod. The community observed the Yahrzeis of Dr. Herzl and celebrated the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. A committee – Ezra – to help the pioneers in Palestine was formed. The entire Jewish population of Tlumacz attended the ceremonies on the occasion of the opening of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in April of 1925. The Zionist bodies held affairs in the city park as a fund–raising activity.

The 1924 elections to the Community Council gave most of the seats to the Zionists. The district governor refused to recognize the results of the elections, but finally yielded. The chairmanship of the Council passed from Bloch, an appointee, to Reis and later to Leon Schweffelgeist, Pini Riesel and Fabian Urman.

The Jews registered many votes in the municipal elections and were properly represented on the Town Council. Leon Schweffelgeist served as the deputy–mayor for many years. The Zionists often formed coalitions with the Poles, while the Ukrainians joined the single representative of the leftist “Poale Zion”, Dr. Steinberg (the head of the Judenrat under the Germans) in the oppositions. Halpern, Rosenkranz, render and Streit served on the Council.

Within the Zionist movement there was also increased activity. More shekel purchasers, more meetings, more frequent visits by outside Zionist figures. The Zionist workers in Tlumacz attended regional and national conferences and conventions. Dr. Rosenkranz was elected several times to the Zionist Congress; he and Max Halpern were members of the National Council of General Zionists, while Redner and Streit were on the District Council of the Mizrachi. Bunio Korn and Mendl Krum were active in the central agencies of the leftist “Poale Zion”. Munio Wurman was a member of the Revisionist Party's Central Committee and one of Betar's leaders in Little Eastern Poland. During 1932–1936 and after the Second World War he was a member of the Betar Executive in Poland as well as member of the Revisionists' Central Committee, a member of the “Bricha” organization in Poland and its emissary to Czechoslovakia for several months. In Israel he had been active in the leadership of the Absorption Department of the Betar Central Committee and the Executive of the National Workers Federation.

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Yehiel Fishel B”R Yaacov Kastelman

by Munio Wurman

More than half a century before Sholom Streit made his aliya to Palestine, another resident of Tlumacz, Yehiel Fishel Kastelman (born in 1816), went to settle in Palestine. He was 34 at the time, married and father of two children. He was known for his clear acumen and deep feeling of piety.

He spent many years in the East, and his extensive travels drew him close to the eastern Jewish communities, despite his western upbringing and education.

There is a very interesting account of his voyage from Eretz–Israel, as an emissary from Safed. He did not travel by the regular routes. He did not seek meetings with Jewish leaders in the diaspora, nor did he go visiting yeshivot. He managed to get to the Jewish communities in Kurdistan, those forgotten Jews who still clung fiercely to their own Jewish traditions. Kastelman described the atrophy of this Jewish concentration and its love for Eretz–Israel. These Jews regarded the emissary from Safed as the messenger of the Lord. Kastelman made this journey about 120 years ago. His travels are described in Brothers Near Though Far by Brach Haba (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1943, pp. 30–32, 102).

Sholom Streit

by Munio Wurman

A native of Tlumacz, Sholom Streit was born in 1888, and grew up in an atmosphere of Hebrew culture in the home of his parents.

He first became active in the ranks of the Zionists in Tlumacz. He contributed to the Hebrew periodical, Hamaizpeh, in Cracow, among those editors were Shai Agnon (then known as Czaczkes), Avigdor Hameiri, Uri Zvi Greenberg and Shimon Menahem Lazar.

In 1908, Streit left Tlumacz and went to Palestine, where he became a tiller of the soil. In 1922 he was one of the founders of Ein–Hai, a Jewish settlement in southern Sharon Valley, between Ramatayim and

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Raanana, the first settlement established in the Valley on Jewish National Fund Land. Later the name was changed to Kfar Malal, for Moshe Leib Lilienblum, a Hebrew writer who was for many years the secretary of the Hovevei Zion movement. Streit served as secretary of Ein–Hai.

Sholom Streit spent several years of study in Austria and Germany. In 1926 he was one of the founders of the Ahad–Ha'am High School in Petah Tikva. For several years he was a member of the Hebrew Writers' Association Executive. His articles appeared in Hapoel Hatzair, Hedim, Maabarot, Ha'adama, Revivim, Gilyonot, Moznayim, Hatekufa, and the daily press. His first book, At the Rise of Dawn, was well received. Many of his critiques were included in the two–volume collection, Aspects of Our Literature.

His daughter, Streit–Worzel, a graduate of the Petach Tikva High School and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is a well–known Israeli writer and educator.

Prof. David Diringer

by Munio Wurman

I remember him as one of the young counselors of “Hashomer Hatzair”. He was in charge of the “Arye” group, which numbered young people from all over town. In it were also Izlo Leopold Avni (Stein) and Hersch Korn.

The members of “arye” used to cut up wood for Jewish homes and turn their pay over to the organization.

David Diringer was born in Tlumacz and graduated from its high school. His brother Vanzio was an instructor in the academy, and another brother, Yehiel, was a barrister. Both lost their lives in the Holocaust. David was saved, as was his younger sister Henia, now living in America.

David, or Dutzu Ducio, as he was then called, intended to go to Palestine, with a large group as far back as 191. He eventually joined Kibbutz Bet–Alpha and later went to Italy for his studies. He showed great interest in archeology, and during his first period he was engaged in special research on Etruscans. On completion of his studies he lectured at the University of Florence. He was named professor in 1934.

When fascism gripped Italy and anti–Jewish sentiments became evident in the country, Dr. Diringer left Italy (1939) and went to England. There

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He taught Semitic Epigraphy at Cambridge University (1948). While at Cambridge (Until 1968) he became expert in the northwestern Semitic writing and in the development of the alphabet. He set up in his home an exhibit of the history of the alphabet and of writing as a means of communication among men.

When he came to Israel he brought the exhibit with him and was instrumental in founding the Alphabet Museum in Tel Aviv, first in Bialik Street and later in the Ramat–Aviv museum complex, and became its director. He died in England in February 1975 and was brought for burial in Israel by his sister. The Museum is still functioning.

A world known scientist, lecturer and seminar instructor in Israel and abroad, he was also a linguist. He taught in England, Spain, Italy, France, Turkey, the Soviet Union, the U.S.A. and Israel. In England he was a member of the Eretz–Israel Studies Foundation, president of the Society for Near East Studies at Cambridge University, member of the Anglo–Israel Archeological Society, fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society and of similar associations.

Besides books, Dr. Diringer wrote some 350 articles for science journals and encyclopedias. After settling in Israel in 1968 he went abroad to deliver lectures at the invitation of various universities. In Israel he attended meetings of former residents of Tlumacz and visited the homes of families from his native town. Whenever he visited our home he used to indulge in nostalgic accounts o fTlumacz.

Publications: Early Hebrew Inscriptions 19(34), The Alphabet in the History of Civilization 37, The Alphabet, a Key to the History of Mankind 48, The Hand Produced Book 53, The Illuminated Book 58, The Story of the Aleph–Bet 58, Writing 62, Shrift (in Swedish) 62, (in Danish) 64, Alphabet (in Russian) 63, The Illuminated Book 68, The Alphabet, A Key to the History of Mankind 69, The Alphabet in the History of Civilization (in Italian) 60, and over 300 articles in scientific periodicals and encyclopedias.

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Migration and Aliya

by Munio Wurman

The years 1881 – 1882 witnessed a change on the Jewish scene. The economic state of the Jews worsened. Persecutions, restrictions, denigrations increased. Then the pogroms descended upon them. The desire to emigrate, primarily to America, took hold of the masses. The famous declaration by George Washington about equal rights for all, without distinctions of religion and nationality, was made fifteen years before the pronouncement of the French Revolution in that spirit. In this flow of immigration from eastern Europe there was a handful of Jews from Tlumacz, looking for good fortune, freedom and future in the New World. “Gold they didn't find,” as they themselves noted in the journal commem–


Tlumacz townspeople in America



Orating the 60th anniversary of the First Tlumaczer Benevolent Association (1901–1961), but at least they and their children escaped the Hitlerian Holocaust.

The immigrants began life anew in America working in sweat shops or peddling, in return for no more than a meager income. They lived together in neighborhoods, establishing clubs and associations according to their cities of origin, synagogues, benevolent societies. They organized “Arbeiter Ring” labor groups, spoke in Yiddish, read Yiddish newspapers, and kept their towns and inhabitants across the seas in mind.

Late in the 19th Century there were already more than 20 Jewish families from Tlumacz in New York. They established their own synagogue, with four Scrolls of the Law in its Ark. They also founded the first cemetery, which they named Mt. Zion”, in Long Island; they acquired another cemetery, “Beth David” in 1926. By May 20, 1910, their Association already numbered 50 members, among whom the family of Charles Bass was the most prominent. Charles Bass' energy and devotion contributed much to the Association's growth and development

According to the aforementioned journal, some 400 to 500 Jewish families immigrated to America during 1910–1920, but not all of them joined the Association. Some of them became affiliated to the “Arbeiter Ring”. In 1920, a Women's Auxiliary was added to do charitable work. However, some of the arrivals from Tlumacz showed no interest in the Association.

The first immigrants did not forget their brethren in Tlumacz. After the ravages of the First World War and the disasters which visited the Jews of Tlumacz – the expulsion to Zloczow, the famine and impoverishment – the Tlumacz Jews in America hastened to the aid of their home community. A central depot was set up for commodities coming from America, especially food for the starved populace. Incidentally, not only Jews enjoyed these parcels. At the nutrition station set up by the town's high school, the non–Jewish pupils, as well, enjoyed the food sent by the Tlumacz families in the United States.

However, there was little immigration to America after 1920. The U.S. authorities tightened the country's immigration laws. In some instances there were allowances for reunification of families.

During the Second World War, as news of the tragedy which was befalling European Jewry reached America, the landsmanschaft associations and the Joint Distribution Committee worked together to get aid to the communities, particularly those in the areas held by the Soviet army. They sent food and clothing, but these did not reach the Jews. On the other

[Page LXXIV]

Hand, considerable assistance was received, after the war, by the Jewish survivors in Poland and the Jewish DP camps in West Germany, Italy and Austria.

Part of the funds of the Association went to the United Jewish Appeal and to buy Israel Bonds. As the U.S. relaxed its immigration laws, several Jewish families from Tlumacz who had gone to Germany now continued on to America.

The return–to–Zion movement was born about the same time that emigration began from eastern Europe to America. People were accepting the idea that the sole answer to the Jewish problem was to put an end to the galut. Zionist societies began cropping up in the cities and towns. One of these was the Tikvat Tziyon (Hope of Zion) Society in Tlumacz, organized in the 1890's. A Jew from Tlumacz, Yehiel Fishel bar–Yaacov Kastelman, went to Israel as early as the mid–19th Century, but only in 1908 did the idea of the restoration to Zion achieve a measure of fulfillment, thanks to Shalom Streit, author, literary critic, and one of the founders of Kfar Malal in southern Sharon.

After the First World War, a large group of active “Hashomer Hatzair” members left Tlumacz to join the new kibbutzim formed in Palestine. They helped build up the land, despite the conditions of hardship and privation in the early 1920's. Some of them later found jobs in the towns. This group was followed by pioneers from “Hechalutz Hamrizrachi”, “Betar”, “Gordonia”, in small numbers. The British regime drastically reduced the number of immigration certificates. All of the eastern Poland was granted no more than 50–60 certificates.

Farming families were admitted under special provisions, and several such families from the Tlumacz area did make their aliya. Among these was Margulis, an expert in distillery operations (now working in the wine cellars of Rishon Letziyon). The Maccabiah games held in the country were also utilized by some of the athletes to remain (as did Izio Lepold). Others used the stratagem of fictitious marriages with Palestinian residents. In all, a comparative handful of the young people who wanted to make their aliya actually accomplished the purpose.

In 1937, the “illegal immigration” (Aliya Bet) movement got under way, and Tlumacz people were among the many thousands ready to enter the Promised Land in this manner. There wasn't a single city or town in Poland without its group of “illegal immigrants”. Yossef Zomer organized such a group in Tlumacz, but it didn't get to leave. The Second World War broke out. The Soviet tanks rolled into Tlumacz, as they did into all of eastern Poland (in line with the Ribbentrop–Molotov pact). When the

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Russo–German conflict broke out, the “master race” conquered the area. The rest of the abominable story is known.

Another method of evading the British edict was registration in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. This was how Blumka Redner, the wife of Dr. Streifler (department head at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv) reached the country, as did the late Yitzhak Katz, a director of the French High School In Tel Aviv.

The outbreak of the war caused all borders to be closed. But the Aliya Committee in Rumania didn't yield. Even when the fighting was in progress, several ships sailed in Rumanian ports. One of these was the Macedonia, better known as the Struma, a river boat which had once plied the Danube and was not suited for the Black Sea.

Still, the burning desire to get away from Europe led many people – 769 of them – to risk the voyage. For weeks the ship nosed its way cautiously through the minefields of both warring sides. After having been denied debarkation in Turkey, the vessel broke up in the Black Sea. Among those who went to the bottom (only one passenger was saved) were Yehoshua Henigsberg of Tlumacz and his two children.

Individual cases of aliya continued during the war, as Jews filtered down to the seaports. Junyo Haliczer (now Prof. Lewittus, department head in Bellinson Hospital) made it to Vienna, thence to Palestine through Yugoslavia.

In 1946, the Eretz Israel Office in Tlumacz received five certificates for Jewish activists who survived the Holocaust. One of these brought Gusta (Weitz) Wurman to Palestine; her husband, Munio Wurman, was granted a certificate on application by his wife (based on the provision for the unification of families).

During 1945–48, Jewish activists were also gotten to Palestine through the Hagana. Among them were several families from Tlumacz, such as Dr. Alexander Schwarzbard and his wife Julka Winterfeld. Dr. Schwarzbard was drafted into the Polish army at the outbreak of the war and escaped with the Polish force that got into Rumania, where he worked in a hospital and survived the Holocaust. Long active Tlumacz Zionist work, he continued this activity in Rumania, as a regional director of Aliyat Hanoar. Julka Schwarzbard, as the wife of a Polish officer, was exiled to Siberia. After years of deprivation and suffering in the Soviet camps she managed to get back to Cracow, then to Rumania, where she joined her husband. The Schwarzbards reached Palestine as illegal immigrants, at the end of the British regime and shortly before the proclamation of the State of Israel.

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With the establishment of the State, ships began coming with immigrants from Germany, Italy, Austria and Cyprus. Among them were the survivors of Tlumacz. Some went back to Poland after the war, saw what was going on there, and came to Israel. Men with military training came to help the young State withstand its foes. Among them was a Tlumacz man, Max Hartenstein, then know by his Polish name Karol Zawadchi (today Zavadi). During the invasion he was able to get hold of Polish certificates of membership in the O.K. and these saved him. A combat pilot, he served for several years as the Military Attache to Israel's Embassy in Italy and later in Yugoslavia. Today he is the senior Government official.

During 1944–47 an “escape” organization was active in Poland in getting Jewish survivors into Italy, Austria and West Germany. The organization had a twofold purpose: to transfer Jews from the Soviet bloc westward and create there a large concentration of Jews ready to go on to Palestine, and secondly, to create contact with Soviet Jewry, through special emissaries, and urge the Jews to leave quickly for Poland, whence they would be taken westward and eventually to the Jewish homeland. This activity, particularly the role of the emissaries, was most dangerous and even cost several lives.

Munio Wurman was a member of the Central Committee of the organization in Poland.

Another group active in Poland consisted of Jews who went looking for Jewish children concealed by Catholic families, monasteries, convents and orphan homes, so as to restore them to their faith. This activity was also highly dangerous.

One of these children was found in a state home set up with the arrival of the Soviet army in Tlumacz. The task of getting the boy out was entrusted to Leiser Buchwald of Nizhniov. He went on foot from Stanislawow to Tlumacz and carried out his assignment. The boy who was taken out from the Soviet orphan home is Rabbi David Halperin, now the principal of the “Tiferet Zion” Yeshiva in Bnei Brak.


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