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by Y. Weinstein and D. Berger

(The Maccabee Hebrew organization for exercise and sport in Zgierz)
The Jewish tournament organization of Zgierz, which was the oldest, largest, most popular and active youth organization in the city, was founded in the year 1913 – 5673.

{Photo page 310: The Maccabee sport organization at its tenth anniversary festivities. {Translator's note -- the plaque in the photo indicates that the year is 1923.}

The prime motivation and concern for the physical development of the Jewish youth began already in the 1880s and 1890s, with a need to learn how to defend oneself against pogroms that were organized by the Czarist authorities. In this manner, Jewish self-defense (Sabmobrona) arose in many cities and towns, in the form of training and physical development in youth groups. These groups heroically repulsed every attack of the hooligans. At first with the call of Dr. Max Nordau at the First Zionist Congress to the new generation of Jews that stand on the threshold of important national tasks, that they must first straighten out their crooked backs and carry their responsibility to the Jewish people with honor and pride; that they must not only develop their spirit, but also their muscles. When he repeated classic motto, “A healthy spirit and a healthy body”, it impressed the studying youth and inspired national-idealist young people to move in that direction with dedication and enthusiasm. The idea of sports then took on a deeper being and wider character.

One of the Zgierz enthusiasts of that idea was certainly the young and fiery Zionist Leon Rusinow. The idea did not let him rest until he influenced his friend Akiva Eiger (a son of the manufacturer and Zionist activist Reb Moshel Eiger) to create in Zgierz – patterned after Tomaszew – a tournament and sports club for the physical development of our youth.

Since creating an independent Jewish institution of that type was difficult under Czarist rule, perhaps even forbidden, the initiators found an alternative: to create a sports section within the already legalized Hazamir culture organization, with the assistance of the founders of Hazamir: Dr. Kaltgrad, Berek Cohen and Yeshaya Szpiro.

{Photo page 311: Members of the Maccabee sport organization of Zgierz on a Lag Baomer excursion.}

Among the aforementioned initiators and founders, one must also count the sport activist, the temperamental social activist Abraham Morgensztern, who was later the founder and editor of the “Jewish Sports Newspaper” in Poland; the brothers Yisrael and Fisherl Leczyszki, Yaakov Hirsch Waldman; Getzi Lipowicz and others who began to make use of Hazamir for sports needs. As can be understood, in those years and in the framework in which they had to act – their activity was quite bounded, and they did not have the possibility to fulfil all of the objectives that they had taken on. Shortly thereafter, the First World War broke out (1914) and the work that had been begun had to be interrupted. First in 1915, the German authorities permitted the Jewish population in the occupied Polish cities to found sports clubs and similar cultural institutions.

{Photo page 312, top: The Maccabee committee (1932). Y. Grand, A. Pietrowicz, L. Rozenberg, L. Gottstadt, K. Eiger, D. Berger, D. Praszker, M. Dzaloszynski, M. Szrowko.)

{Photo page 312 bottom: Members of the Maccabee sport organization on a parade to the synagogue.}

{Photo page 313: The directors of the Maccabee sport organization. Standing: Flam, B. Skosowski, L. Waldman, Sh. Feldman, K. Eiger, Y. Goldenberg, Y. Lenczyki, Sh. Wichocki, Y. Waldman. Y. Rosenzweig, Frida. Sitting: Mrs. Bomes, Sh. Katz, Chaikin, H. Waldman, R. Greenberg, P. Greenberg, Tz. Goldberg, Lenczyki, Frida.}

The first open information about the Zgierz tournament organization was brought to us by the Lodzer Folksblatt number 179 (August 16, 1915) in a correspondence from the province:

In Zgierz the Jewish tournament organization began activity. A second newspaper correspondent from Zgierz writes to us as follows: “The library united with the Jewish Tournament Organization in order to concentrate the energies and cooperative work. The Tournament Organization developed an energetic activity, and arranged systematic events four time per week. As well, the Tournament Organization had a choir and mandolin orchestra. At its last meeting, it was decided to conduct a wide-ranging activity in the cultural realm. It was decided to organize a large Peretz evening on the First Yahrzeit of Y. L. Peretz on Wednesday, the second day of Passover.”

{Photo page 314 top: A festive reception of Maccabee in Zgierz in honor of the visiting sportsmen from the Land of Israel. In the center (in the foreground) sitting: A. Morgensztern, Isucher Szwarc, and the vice-mayor H. Zawinckowski.}

{Photo page 314 bottom: Members of Maccabee with their new flag.}

First in liberated Poland (around 1919), the Tournament Organization undertook a significant and organization activity, with zest and tempo, in almost all areas of sport and culture.

The reasons that the popularity and esteem of that group, which encompassed almost all of the strata of the Zgierz youth, grew so quickly, were various. However, one of the most import reasons was certainly the attitude of volunteerism among the young and nationalistically inclined forces who took important leadership positions in the organization. They displayed energy and initiative, each according to his domain. Among others, these included Akiva Goldberg, Leibish Weinstein, David Berger (vice president until he left Poland in 1935), Yosef Leib Gottstadt, Reuven Szapszowicz, Leibish Waldman, Leibek Zylberberg, Moshe Yaakov Grand (secretary), Feivel Rozenman, and David Praszker. It must be emphasized that even though the organization included people with various political leanings, full harmony prevailed in their common work, under the fatherly direction of the good-natured yet energetic Karel (Akiva) Eiger, to whom the sports organization was his life's work.

In 1924, the Zgierz Tournament Organization joined the world Maccabee organization, which was found in Karlsbad in 1921 and included almost all of the Jewish sports clubs in the Diaspora.

There were active and passive memberships. The active members participated in all of the activities under the supervision of experienced instructors. These included Zeida and Segal of the Lodzer Jewish Gymnasium, among others. There were also various sections, such as a children's and women's section directed by Fishel Lenczyki; a section for light athletics directed by Gezi Lipowicz, Yosef Leib Gottstadt, Mendelowicz, and Leibek Zylberberg; a festival section led by Bolek Trocki, Sewer Czernikowski, and Rotapel. The football players also played in inter-city matches. There was also a ping-pong group. In general the sporting standard of the Zgierz Tournament Organization was at a significantly high level; so much so that our sports people were often requested to appear in other cities, to participate in significant Jewish events.

{Photo page 316: A group of girls of the Maccabee sport organization. From left: chairman Karel Eiger, and Y. L. Gottstadt.}

The dedication of the flag on the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Tournament Organization was a festive occasion that left a strong imprint upon the city. The flag was lovely, with white-blue colors, ribbons and emblems [1]. It was carried with great solemnity, and brought honor and pride to the Jewish population. On days of government nationalistic solemn ceremonies, the Jewish Tournament Organization took part in full. The special march and formal procession used to start from the large practice area that used to be Grynberg's lumber warehouse. It marched toward the main street (Pilsudskiega), and went toward the Old City, accompanied by its own orchestra and headed by the flag group. Jews stood along the sidewalks on both sides of the long procession, and looked on with delight. People threw flowers from Jewish balconies, and Jewish children happily and playfully ran along. Alas, the processions were not always proud and festive. Often, the flag was decorated with black mourning bands, and was carried to the synagogue for a memorial to Herzl or Bialik, or – to a protest and mourning demonstration against pogroms and anti-Jewish discrimination in Poland or in Hitler's Germany. Thus did Jewish Zgierz demonstrate its joy or sorrow, its goodwill or protest.


The “Dvora” Women's Zionist Group

by Rachel Szperling Szpiro

{Photo page 317: The Jewish kindergarten and its leaders. In the center: Mrs. Roiza Haron, Tania Reichert, the kindergarten teachers Tamerzon and Glicka Szperling.}

During the years 1918-22, a women's Zionist organization called “Dvora” was active in Zgierz. Its purpose was to spread the Zionist idea among the women of the city.

The most important activity of this group was the Hebrew kindergarten “Prawlowka” in which approximately 40 students studies from all segments of the Jewish population. They sang and spoke Hebrew. The directors of the kindergarten were the following women: M. Reichert, G. Szperling, R. Haron and others, who concerned themselves with all the needs of the kindergarten. The kindergarten teachers were local and from the city of Lodz. These included Mrs. Rozenblum, Tamerzon and Ostrowski. The kindergarten was located in the home of the Reichert family.

The Dvora organization maintained a meeting place for its members. It conducted evening Hebrew classes, presentations, and a dramatic club. It worked on behalf of the Jewish National fund (Keren Kayemet), distributed Shkalim (Zionist membership tokens) and participated in all Zionist activities in the city.

The founders and life force of the organization were Misses A. and M. Reichert.


The Jewish Scout Organization of Zgierz

by L. Rubinstein of New York

A short time after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the German army took Lodz and the entire area. The occupation authority permitted Jews to conduct and organized, national and societal life, which had not been permitted under the Russian regime. Various Jewish parties legalized their activities, and Jewish youth organizations were founded in all cities and towns of occupied Poland.

In Zgierz in 1915, a small group of Jewish students from the local business school and the Jewish Gymnasium in Lodz thought of founding a youth organization. The group consisted of Zelig Reichert, Yoav Kac, Joszek Kohn, Leon Rubinsztejn, Yisrael Weinik and others. The would get together a few evenings a week in a roof in Wolf Reichert's factory and carefully study the programs of the Jewish youth movements throughout the world. They also learned about the Land of Israel. Later, when they had crystallized the program, they decided to found a Jewish scouting organization. Aside from scouting, the program would include Jewish history, Palestinography, pioneering living in the Land of Israel, and the personalities of the Second Aliya. They would also install in the members a striving for personal aliya to the Land of Israel.

{Photo page 319 top: The Scouting organization on an excursion with their counselors.}

{Photo page 319 bottom: The Scouting organization with their counselors A. Cincinatus (on the right) and Y. Weinik.}

After a short time, the group succeeded in recruiting a significant number of boys and girls, who were divided in groups according to their ages. Each group had a leader who conducted the program with them. The organization continued to grow. Shortly it was evident that there was a shortage of counselors. They attempted to attract older members. Yaakov Skosowski (who later became the head of the organization), Aharon Cincinatus, Nathan Spiwak, Yosef Kac and others joined the organization.

A number of the leading members of Zgierz were members of the Lodz higher leadership of the Jewish scouting organization.

From 1918, the scouting organization in Poland united with the Austrian Hashomer Hatzair to form one organization, under the name “Hashomer Hatzair”. After the proclamation of the Balfour Declaration, the desire to make aliya to the Land of Israel increased. The leader of the organization decided that when the war ends, they would fulfil the dream of aliya.

Immediately after the armistice, a group of leaders of Hashomer Hatzair from Lodz and Zgierz was organized, who would leave Poland and make aliya. They departed from Vienna on December 3, 1918. The following people from Zgierz were included in this group: Yaakov Skosowski, Zelig Reichert, Nathan Spiwak and Leon Rubinsztejn. From Vienna, the group had to travel to Italy in order to board a ship to the Land of Israel. When we arrived in Vienna, the group met with the doctor-rabbi Zvi Chajes, who strongly urged us to abandon the journey on account of the great risk, for conditions of war still prevailed. However we found out that a train of evacuating soldiers was leaving Vienna for Trieste, and we set out on that train. They held us as suspects at the border with Italy, but through the endeavors of a Jew, Dr. Freund, who was passing through the station by chance – they let us continue on.

{Photo page 321 top: The Gideon Scouting group with Yaakov Skosowski (in the center).}

{Photo page 321 (bottom): The first group of Hashomer Hatzair. Front row: Sh. Cincinatus, L. Kohn, Y. Cohen, P. Goldstein, E. Reichert. Second row: A. Reichert, Tz. Lipszicz, G. Rozman, S. Nakrice, P. Zylberberg. Third row: H. Cohen, S. Grynwald, G. Kohn, Y. Reichert.}

We realized that in Trieste, there were no ships that were travelling to Egypt or the Land of Israel. Thanks to the Zionist leader Dlugacz and the rabbi of Trieste, Dr. Zaler, we received free transportation to Rome, where we obtained visas from the British consul to travel to the Land of Israel.

We were stuck in Rome for almost two months. During that time, other groups came from various places in Poland. Among these groups was another one from Zgierz, which included M. A. Kuperman, Yoav Kac, Klarfeld, Moshe Herszkowicz, and others. After that time, the entire group consisted of 105 people making aliya. It became known in the history of the Third Aliya as the “105”. We finally obtained visas after two months. We traveled to Naples and took a ship to Alexandria. The first group arrived in Israel around the time of Passover, 1919.


The Hashomer Hatzair Youth Organization of Zgierz

by Chaya Szperling-Halpern and Rafael Katz

The “Scouting” was founded in Zgierz in 1916. Its founders were Yisrael Weinik, Yaakov Skosowski, Leon Rubinsztejn, and others.

In 1918, after the “Scouting” movement merged with a group of Jewish students, the Zionist youth movement “Hashomer Hatzair” was founded.

This was a Jewish, Zionist youth movement whose purpose was to educate the Jewish youth toward the actualization of Zionism. The idea of “Hashomer Hatzair” spread among the studying and working youth throughout all the cities of Poland. They studied scouting, Hebrew, Bible, the history of the Jewish people in the Diaspora and the Land of Israel, and knowledge about the Land of Israel (Palestinography) in order to instill in the youth the Zionist idea and love of the native Land. Various conventions, meetings and excursions took place together with youth from chapters in other cities. The first location of the Hashomer Hatzair group in Zgierz was in a room in the home of the Reichert family, where the other Zionist organizations were also gathered. The Hashomer Hatzair youth for the most part came from petite-bourgeois families, who mostly spoke Polish. The work of the group was conducted in that language. There were also groups that were conducted in Hebrew (the students of the Hebrew school). The first head of the chapter was Yaakov Skosowski, followed by Joszek Kohn, Peretz Goldsztejn and Shaya Cincinatus.

{Photo page 323: A chapter of Hashomer Hatzair in Zgierz in 1932 in Grepsz's yard.}

With the growth of aliya to the Land of Israel, the Hashomer Hatzair chapter served as the largest gathering place of Jewish youth who saw their future in the actualization of aliya. The parents looked positively upon the movement as a preparation for aliya.

In 1932, a football sporting team called Shomria was established by the local chapter, similar to what was established in other cities of Poland. The Zgierz team took an honorable role among the other teams. In 1924, the local group organized their first summer camp in the city of Niedzwiedz, directed by Shaya Cincinatus, Peretz Goldsztejn, Fishek Zylberberg, Tovka Nakrice, Yisrael Weisman, Ruth Sirkes, Tovka Poznerzon, Janka Kac and others.

In the years 1924-1925, there was a crisis among the leadership of the chapter. Some of the leaders made aliya (Janka Kac, Peretz Goldsztejn, Ruth Sirkes, and others), and others left to continue their studies. In 1926, the leadership of the chapter was placed upon much younger people who were helped by counselors from the city of Lodz. During this period, the region of Lodz-Kaluze prepared a joint plan of action, which served as material that helped conduct the work of the group. From that time, the summer camps were arranged in common for all cities of the regions on a class basis. The counselors were Rafael Kac, Yaakov Albersztejn, Avraham Haron, Muniek Zelgow, Motel Rozman, Genia and Chana Gorner, Paula Ickowicz, and Esther Kac.

The period between the years 1923 and 1929 were a bright period for the local chapter of Hashomer Hatzair, which had up to 350 members. It was housed in a large, fine hall in the Grepsz home on Narotowitsza Street, and had a stage for performances. The chapter occupied itself with all Zionist activities, and was a faithful participant in anything that took place in Zionist life in the city, such as Keren Kayemet, publicity activity and actions on behalf of the Zionist idea (lectures, presentations, parades, excursions, etc.). It was among the finest chapters in the region of Lodz-Kalusz.

During this period, Jewish youth started to come from the homes of the craftsmen and workers. On account of this, Yiddish began to penetrate, along with the Polish and Hebrew languages. In 1927, through the efforts of the youth group of the Working Land of Israel, a Hechalutz organization was founded. The chapter played an active role in the activities of the organization, leadership, and preparation for aliya to the land. After the disturbances of 5689 (1929), members of the eldest section of this group made aliya: including Rafael Kac, Mordechai Roizman, Avraham Haron, Paula Ickowicz, Genia and Chana Gorner, and Esther Kac.

Once again, the younger layer came to the directorship of the chapter, including Rivka Kac, Franka Szapszowicz and Aharon Abramowicz, who led the chapter for only a short time until the made aliya.

{Photo page 324: A group of Hashomer Hatzair in 1925. First row standing: T. Nakrice, Sh. Cincinatus, unidentified, Y. Weinbaum, P. Goldsztejn, Y. Kac, Zylberberg, R. Sirkes, T. Poznerzon. Second row: Ruth Sirkes, Y. A. Cincinatus, Z. Szkosowski, R. Rozenman. Third row: Sh. Rabinowicz, M. Sirkes, R. Cincinatus, Sh. Hochman, N. Gottheiner, P. Sibirsia. Fourth row: R. Kac, A. Szidlowski, M. Fiszer.)

{Photo page 325: The Aviv group of Hashomer Hatzair with their counselors. First row: Tz. Zelnik, A. Haron, B. Ickowicz, Sh. Finkelsztejn, Y. Albersztejn, Ch. Groner, A. Kac, P. Kac, P. Ickowicz. Sitting: R. Szperling, B. Jakubowicz, A. Lewin, A. Goldberg, D. Kac.}

The chapter continued with its activities, and remained in constant communication with the head leadership, from which it received newspapers. It participated in worldwide and national conventions in such places as Danzig, Rotki-Czechia, and Warsaw. It was involved and alert to whatever took place in the movement.

After the younger segments took over leadership of the chapters, the activists included: Tzila Zelnik, Dova Kac, Batya Ickowicz, Chaya Szperling, Shalom Praszker, Chana Kirszstejn, Yosef Woronski, Achwa Lewin and others. Most of them made aliya. Due to the interruption in aliya, the members who had gone on Hachsharah returned home and searched for means to make aliya. Some of them indeed succeeded.

The activities of the chapter indeed continued until the outbreak of the war, albeit with a smaller number of members. Those that lead the chapter through this period until the outbreak of the war included: Moshe Ickowicz, Binyamin Szirdski, Yitzchak Bornsztejn, Yoshia Kimelfeld, Shalom Bibersztejn, Yedidya Melinerski, Esther Praszker, Asher Gornicki, Rozka Radogowska, Miriam Widislowska, and others. Only a few of them survived the Holocaust, and very few made arrived in the land.

For many years, Hashomer Hatzair was the largest and most popular Zionist youth movement in Zgierz.


The Hitachdut Zionist Worker's Group

by W. Fisher and David Berger

{Photo page 326: A party marking the aliya of members of Hitachdut to the Land of Israel, 1925.}

The Hitachdut Zionist Workers party was founded in Prague in 1920 through a union of the Worker's party in Israel with the Diaspora radical Zionist Zeiri Zion youth movement.

A chapter of Hitachdut in Zgierz was established in 1920, with the active assistance of representatives of that movement in Lodz, Dr. Yosef Szweig and Dr. Aryeh Tratkower. They were present at the founding meeting, at which the first committee was chosen. The members of the committee were Wolf Fiszer, David Berger, David Tevil Elberg – secretary, and the members: Michel Szidlowski, Yaakov Szpiro, Berish Librach, Betzalel Frugel, Yitzchak Sczaransky, and David Baum. After the aliya of Elberg to the Land of Israel, Yaakov Szpiro replaced him in the secretariat.

The committee immediately entered into organized activity, and began to recruit members from the youth of Zgierz. This endeavor was crowned with success, for the Hitachdut found this field to be like a ploughed field waiting for seeding. From 1920, when the Tzeirei Zion movement disbanded on its own accord on the heels of the unification, and due to the fact that many of its most active members left, mainly to make aliya to the land, and others were uprooted to the battlefronts of the Russian-Polish war, the young generation coming of age was left perplexed and searching for its way. It was seeking for a solution to its unique social and cultural issues. The existing Zionist organizations were burdened, and were not able to serve as a secure home for that segment of the youth in whom the streams of the new times began to take hold.

It is easy to understand that many of the youth answered the call to join with Hitachdut, for there, in the confines of a working, active, dynamic Zionist movement, they found an opening of hope to fulfil their Zionist desires and aspirations, and a paved road toward a more secure future.

During the first period, the Hitachdut activities were mainly involved in spreading the fundamental ideals of the movement: a desire to establish a new, working, free community in the Land of Israel without exploiters and the exploited; a renewal of the Hebrew language and culture, a renewal of the life of the nation in the exile on the basis of productive and independent work, etc. Above all – the aim was to awaken the national Jewish consciousness in the heart of the youth.

Particular attention was give to publicity to encourage the youth to productive work, in particular to the Jewish youth of the middle class, to whom work with the hands was a foreign idea.

Already in its first year of existence, the Zgierz chapter took an honorable place in Zgierz life. At the festive gathering on the occasion of the opening of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in April 1925 that took place in the Luna theater, Hitachdut presented an honorable presentation to the Zgierz community. This was its first appearance as a new political-communal body in the city.

One year later, when Hitachdut received the custodianship of the Friszman Library, its activities broadened, for the library hall was given over to cultural work during its free times. This activity included Hebrew classes that were conducted by the elder, well-known teacher Weinik; discussions among friends; readings about political, literary and general topics in which, aside from the members of the movement, members of the working youth also participated, including Yisrael Weinik, Yaakov Gottstadt and others. Special times were set aside, especially on Sabbaths and festivals, for communal singing, in which the youth expressed the desires of their hearts and their Zionist aspirations in music and song.

With the passage of time, Hitachdut broadened its activity in all aspects of cultural life of the Jewish community of Zgierz. Aside from its constant growth, it attained recognizable social and political power in the city. Its representatives penetrated and took honorable positions in all communal institutions. Especially prominent was its participation in Zionist conventions on behalf of the Land of Israel, on the committee for the league of Working Israel, etc.

One of our representatives, David Berger, was chosen as the chairman of the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael in Zgierz. He was also one of the chief activists of Keren Hayesod. Along with others, Berger represented Hitachdut in factional conventions, and joined together with them in fitting committees.

During the time of elections for the Zionist institutions or local civic institutions, Hitachdut was an important factor. David Baum, Shmuel Feldon and David Praszker (as is known from the book of protocols of the community council) participated with the support of the communal council in the preparation of lists of Jewish candidates for the city council in 1927. During the early 1930s, David Berger entered into the communal council on the united Zionist list.

At this occasion, I want to single out the most faithful and dedicated member of Hitachdut in Zgierz during all of its years of existence – David Baum who received the job of secretary from Yaakov Szpiro. He filled his task with the attention to detail, seriousness and dedication in which he excelled.

{Photo page 328: A farewell party for members of Hitachdut who are making aliya to the Land of Israel. With the participation of representatives of the various Zionist groups (1925).}

We should also mention here a number of members who joined the committee later. Each one gave their best ability to the work of the chapter. These included Moshe Landau, Avraham Zelgow, Yona Kirszbaum, Zanwil Librach, Moshe Akerman, Moshe Yaakov Grand, Moshe Yaakov Srebnik, Avraham Szewach, Kaszikac, and others whom I do not recall at this moment.

It is fitting to especially point out one of the aims of Hitachdut in the realm of Zionist work in the field of education. This was the creation of the Gordonia organization for pioneering Zionist youth. With the assistance of other local factors, this youth group grew to become a fruitful and flourishing branch of Hitachdut.

As we glance backward to that time, we can see that we should not feel bad about the effort and work that we invested to raise the level of Hebrew culture, and to awaken the Jewish goals within a portion of our youth who were motivate by the same goals that united and forged our camp. There is much heartache and agony over those young lives who pined and waited with longing eyes for that far off Land, who were full of hope and faith to find their enchanting, fine future there – and their path to that Land was cut off in such a cruel fashion during the days of murder and extermination. The hangman put an end to their lives and desires.

Their honor and memory shall be guarded along with all those who dedicated their souls upon the altars of the nation of Israel on the way to the liberation and establishment of our Land.



by Y. Sz.

In the year 1928, David Baum, Yitzchak Sczaransky and Berish Librach, with the help of the leader of the central Gordonia organization Pinchas Lubianiker (Lavon), created the Gordonia youth organization within Hitachdut.

Thanks to the untiring, dedicated work of these three, Gordonia grew within a short time to become one of the most active youth organizations in our city.

Lecturers and representatives from the Lodzer Gordonia often came to us. Among them were the young artist Yisrael Szumacher, and Mrs. Zylberszac. They would study Hebrew and Yiddish songs with us, in the spirit of the Jewish workers movement.

Each week, new members arrived. We already had approximately 130 members a year after the founding. They received an education in the spirit of A. D. Gordon's teachings.

The older members later went out on Hachsharah. Fresh, younger members came into our ranks in their place.

The active members of Gordonia included the following: Simcha Szarkowiak, Zvulun Opozdower, Menachem Blank, Chana Rubin, Yisrael Chaimowicz, Shaul Blanket, Yaakov Korciasz, Zeev Blazer, Chava Zelgow, Hadasa Blanket, Chava Bocinski, Yechezkel Jazonski, and others.

Unfortunately not everyone was able to make aliya, on account of the certificate allocations of the English Mandate authorities in the Land of Israel during that time. Many of them were murdered by the German murderers. Their memory should be mentioned for good.

{Photo page 330: A group of Gordonia members prior to going out on an excursion. In the front row: Y. Wazinski, Blazer, Ch. Rozlaska, unidentified, A. Szrowko, A. Szewach, Y. Korwazow, A. Waller. In the second row: Ch. Wisoczka, R. Lewin, Szarkowiak, Ch. Bozinska, Ch. Gelbard, A. Moszkowicz, G. Weinkrancz. In the third row: Sh. Szrowko, C. Zalgow, M. Blank. Ch. Ickowicz. In the fourth row: Szeinholtz, Sh. Blanket, M. Zinamon, Wisocki.}


About Gordonia

by Yisrael Chaimowitz of Ramat Gan

The events in the Land of Israel caused an awakening of the pioneering movement throughout Poland. The Gordonia movement arose with the assistance of the political Hitachdut movement. The branch of Hitachdut in our city was alert and active in this direction. It correctly saw in Gordonia a pioneering youth movement that educated its members toward communal life in the land, and actualized the vision of independent work without relying on others. I remember that when I went for the first time to Gordonia, which was situation in “Palestine Courtyard” on Dombrowska Street, I felt an uplifting of my spirit. I knew that I am changing the order of the life that I was used to from the home of my grandparents and parents, a life of cleaving to Hassidic faith, which was for many years the source of Jewish existence, whether it was the Hassidim of Ger, of the Rebbe of Aleksandrow, or any other Hassidic group. For all of them had one aim: to guard the Jewish spark that it should not extinguish. I saw in the pioneering movement an extension and continuation of the guarding of the Jewish ember, and the first action toward the return to Zion. To our dismay and pain, only a few survived the Hell of the Holocaust and were able to actualize their Zionistic desires.


The Revisionist Movement in Zgierz

by Mordechai the son of Yaakov Glazer

The Revisionist Movement in our city crystallized within the Zionist movements in the middle of the 1920s, with the call of Jabotinsky to the Zionist youth to gird themselves for the great endeavor of the redemption of our Land with the force and energy required by the times.

I absorbed a great deal of the love of the land and the Zionist vision during my youth by constantly listening to the enthusiastic chiselers of the Zionist cedars in Zgierz, such as Isuchar Szwarc, Moshel Eiger of blessed memories and others. Later, when I was already active in the Zionist movement, I was easily swayed by the warm speeches of Jabotinsky, for the Zionist work was being conducted with excessive slowness, and was missing the energy that the Jewish youth were awaiting.

{Photo page 332: A group of Beitar members and officials. Standing in the top row: M. Cohen, Jakubowicz, P. Davidowicz, Ch. Gincburg, R. Malchieli, L. Sribnik. Standing in the second row: Kaszibinus, M. Podmaski, Sh. Zisman. Sitting: Szapir, Sh. Gottfreund, M. Himmelfarb. A. Librach. Sitting in the bottom row: S. Szidlowski, Ch. Kaufman, Hirszberg.}

On account of this, when Jabotinsky founded Revisionist Zionism, my friends and I were attracted to the new movement with bonds of enchantment. A youth group of the new style was organized in our town at that time. Its ranks included Yehuda L. Weinsztejn who served as chairman; Reuven Malchieli and I who were young; and Leib Sribnik was the secretary. We immediately began our significant work. We called publicity meetings and conducted wide-ranging activity on behalf of the idea. We implemented new Zionist activities that were required by the times. It is possible to state that this young movement did a great deal to increase the Zionist mission within the youth. It dedicated itself to the education of the youth, and preparing them for pioneering and aliya. Hachsharah locations were set up near the city of Aleksandrow. Yitzchak Hameiri was appointed as the head of the Hachsharah camp. He succeeded greatly at his task, and raised the Zionist idea at all times and in every place.

Later, the Beitar movement was founded, that excelled in its appearances and parades at festive occasions and national events. It demonstrated the Zionist flame by raising the national flag in the Jewish and gentile communal circles. The leader of Beitar was Avraham Teichner, and the vice-leaders were Moshe Zakon and Reuven Malchieli.

Brit Hachayil (The Covenant of the Soldiers) was founded later, during the 1930s. Youth who had been freed from the Polish army participated in this organization. The movements of Revisionist Zionism, Beitar and Brit Hachayil received additional power at that time. They strengthened until they succeeded in entering their representative Yehuda Leib Rozenberg to the Jewish communal council. Moshe Lewkowicz was the leader of Brit Hachayil. The members of the leadership who served with him were Yehuda Leib Szwarcbard, Finkelsztejn, Michael Cohen and others.

In the year 5698 (1938) the Revisionist Zionist movement dedicated itself to the Second Aliya with full strength. The impetus for this activity came for the most part from the dearth of certificates, which, as is known, was impeded by the relations between the various factions of the Zionist camp, and the lack of organization by those who controlled the quotas of certificates. The Revisionist Zionists were forced to gather crumbs from the tables of others, if it was indeed possible to obtain anything at all. The Second Aliya was the natural result of the pressure for aliya among the members of Beitar. The first of those who made aliya in this movement were Ozer Cohen, Epsztejn and others from the movement.

The Revisionist Movement always played an active role in the activities of Keren Hayesod and Keren Kayemet. The member of the Keren Hayesod committee from the Revisionist Zionists was our chairman Leibish Weinsztejn. Leib Sribnik of blessed memory served as our representative to the Keren Kayemet committee. The movement did a great deal of work in educating the youth, and all of those who were numbered under its flags were in agreement with the Zionist idea without bounds or limits.

{Photo page 333: A party in Zgierz on the occasion of the freeing of Avraham Stowski from guilt of the murder of Dr. Chaim Arlozorov of blessed memory. }

{Photo page 334: A group of Beitar members.}

The last of the activists before the Holocaust were Meir Leib Rozenberg who served as the chairman of the movement, Yosef Leib Gottstadt, Pinchas Dawidowicz, Elazar Zakon who dedicated himself to the work of the movement with diligence of heart and soul, Feivel Librach, the Finkelsztejn brothers, Michael Cohen, and others. The leader of Beitar was Elazar Zakon, who was assisted by his friends Michael Cohen and Menachem Gincberg.

The Jabotinsky faithful who hailed from Zgierz continued in their path after they made aliya to the land. During the time of the great revolt of the Jewish settlement against the British Mandatory government during the years 5704-5705 (1944-1945), when myriads of British army soldiers and officers spread themselves out to all places in the Hebrew settlement to track down the men of the underground, and particularly tried to hunt for the head of the Etzel underground by placing a price on his head, the underground leader Mr. Begin [2] found a safe refuge in the home of a Beitar man who was a native of our city, Reuven Malchieli of Petach Tikva. From that house, the leadership of the underground conducted its work under the nose of the Mandatory police, in a heroic struggle against he forces that worked with all their might to thwart the development of the Jewish state while it was still in its infancy (M. Begin – “The Revolt”, page 169).

Zgierz was blessed with an excited youth that was full of the Zionist flame. The pain and anguish is great regarding those who did not merit to attain the realization of their youthful longings and dreams, and waited for actualization. May their memories be blessed.



by Chaya Halpern and Yaakov Lewin

{Photo page 335: A branch of Hechalutz in Zgierz at the farewell for members who are going on Hachsharah (training in preparation for aliya) (1929). First row: P. Szrakowiak, Y. Flink, Y. Chaimowicz, Fisher, B. Szeinholtz, Y. Woronski. Second row: Ch. Cesner, P. Sar, A. Trajanowski, R. Kac, G. Gorner, Sh. Szrakowiak, A. Haron, Z. Zalmanowicz, Ch. Gorner, A. Abramowicz, Y. Korczej, M. Rozman, G. Kirszsztejn. Third row: Y. Michowicz, Ch Cesner, H. L. Ickowicz, Y. Lewin, M. Gambicki, D. Zeidenwurm, Y. Wazonski, P. Ickowicz. Forth row: Y. Zalgow, A. Bornsztejn. M. Poznanski, Y. Wajnkranc, Sh. Skosowski.}

Hechalutz was founded in 1927 through the efforts of the Working Land of Israel Zionist youth movement. Its founders were Rafael Kac, Avraham Haron, Mordechai Rozman, Paula Ickowicz, Chana Gorner, Yisrael Chaimowicz, Mordechai Szewach, Yechezkel Wazonski and others.

Every member of a Zionist youth movement who wished to actualize their Zionism and make aliya to the Land had to go on Hachsharah through Hechalutz in order to receive a permit for aliya. Aside from members of the organized Zionist youth movements, Hechalutz also accepted into its ranks Jewish working youth who desired aliya. The counselors were members of Hashomer Hatzair and Gordonia in the city. Lectures took place on various themes, such as the history of the Land and the Jewish settlement, knowledge of Israel – Palestinography, and other topics. Evening classes in Hebrew were arranged under the direction of Yitzchak Pilcki, who was one of the teachers in the children's institution in Helenowek near Zgierz (and later a leader in Ben Shemen and a member of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel). There were joint meetings and excursions for the youth under the sponsorship of Hechalutz.

The meeting place was in the Hashomer Hatzair hall on Narotwicsza Street.

The first who went on Hachsharah through Hechalutz in the summer of 1929 to the Klosowo mine worked and lived under difficult conditions. These members were Lipman Flam, Yitzchak Abramowicz, Yisrael Chaimowicz and Yechezkel Wazonski.

The second group went out to Suchedniow in 1929. This group included Yaakov Lewin, Mordechai Gembicki, Katriel Cesner, and Hirsh Leib Ickowicz. They were followed by Yosef Woronski, Avraham Bornsztejn, Yitzchak Goldberg, and Shlomo Wisznia.

There was no aliya in the years 1931-1932. The members who had received permits for aliya were sent home. Some of them enlisted in the Polish army. There was an interruption in the activities of Hechalutz, which continued until the establishment of the Borochov Hachsharah kibbutz.


Borochov Kibbutz

by Yitzchak Sczaransky

{Photo page 337: Members of the Borochov Kibbutz in Zgierz (1933).}

The Borochov Kibbutz in Zgierz was founded in 1932 with the assistance of the members Yaakov Lewin, Hirsch Ickowicz, Katriel Cesner and Mordechai Gembicki.

At the outset, the kibbutz had 15 members who were accommodated in a small dwelling on the Jewish street. The first 15 members had no difficulty in finding work in the city. Therefore, several of them became members of trades, such as tailors, hat makers, and also carpenters.

The members of the kibbutz lived in a commune. There were indeed times where instead of supper, the group arranged themselves in a circle, shoulder to shoulder, danced a Hora, sang songs, and… went to sleep hungry.

They all held together thanks to the dedication of the members to the pioneering ideal. Ignoring the fact that some of the members were unemployed, they took in more and more members in order to expand the kibbutz.

A double problem came with the arrival of new members. First, the dwelling was too crowded, and they had to have special rooms for the girls. Second, there was a question about how to employ the 20 new members, while the first 15 were not fully employed.

The Zgierz resident Baruch Skosowski, who knew about the difficult conditions of the Borochov Kibbutz, procured a large dwelling on Dombrowska Street and began to concern himself about with employment for the kibbutz members. Thanks to him, almost all of the members found employment – a portion of the m in the wool workshop of Leizer Poznerzon and others in the factories of Brancher, Horowicz, and Skosowski, as well as in a wood workshop. Thanks to the fact that Baruch Skosowski found employment for 30 people, the kibbutz lived on, and new members came in. Baruch found employment for some of the new members as well. He did not rest during the day or night until he succeeded in finding new places of work.

After some time, the kibbutz was enriched with its own workshop that employed six members. Later, they set up a fowl farm with dozens of hens, geese and ducks. However, their greatest joy was when they purchased a cow that gave milk. The fowl and the milk cow greatly assisted the kibbutz in its livelihood and development.

There were times, nevertheless, when the kibbutz had a bit of a crisis. In concert with the general unemployment in the city, many kibbutz members also lost their stable employment. This occurred at the time when the kibbutz had close to a hundred members.

However, things work out a the end. The food merchants, Lifszitz on Piontker Street and Rozenstreich on Pilsudski Street, two Gerrer Hassidim, provided the kibbutz with products on credit until the members would find employment. The baker Eliezer Korczej must be singled out for praise, for he gave the kibbutz as much bread as was needed every day, without even writing it down. He said that he trusts them to keep accounts and to pay him. He would say, “People who hold the Land of Israel as an ideal will not deceive a fellow Jew monetarily”.

{Photo page 339: A party at the Borochov Kibbutz in Zgierz. In the center are seated Mr. Fabian Grynberg and his wife.}

The kibbutz brought a revival of life to the Jewish street. The members took part in various Zionist activities, and also in professional movements.

It was indeed a wonder how young people came from different areas of Poland, with different ways of life and characters – and they conducted themselves like a family, thanks to the pioneering ideal.

It is worthwhile to mention the kibbutz member Yisrael Lifszitz who created the “Freiheit” in Zgierz. He would often speak on various subjects at the kibbutz. As well, the kibbutz members Yocheved Bogen and Simcha Ber were of those who helped create the spiritual life in the kibbutz through their efforts. The members Charna and Tzviek came from Kibbutz Gesher in Israel, and reported about kibbutz life in the Land of Israel.

From time to time, the city doctor Kaltgrad visited the kibbutz, and lectured on medical topics.

When the doctor Kaltgrad went to check on a sick person in the kibbutz, he took no money for his visit.

A festive joy pervaded in the kibbutz when members were approved for aliya.

The joy pervaded among all members without exception, so that it was impossible to discern which ones were certified for aliya, and which ones had to wait their turn to be certified.

There were some who were certified who did not have enough funds for the journey. In such cases, the situation was entrusted to the aforementioned Baruch Skosowski. Within a few days, he would arrange the funds for the journey for the aliya candidate, with some amount in addition. It was no secret that the largest sum of money was given from his own pocket.

There were also times when a feeling of despair prevailed among the members of the kibbutz who were not able to make aliya, for the British Mandatory authorities only gave out few certificates. It was characteristic that nobody left the kibbutz even in times of despair. The despair passed with a tune and a dance of “Am Yisrael Chai” (The Nation of Israel Lives), and “Unizke Lirot” (We will Merit to Witness).

The kibbutz moved to Lodz at the end of 1937. It was located on Leszna Street, where it was the central location of the Borochov Kibbutz for the Lodz region.

Many of the members of the Zgierz kibbutz can be found in the kibbutzim of Dafna, Ramat Rachel and others.


The Bund

by Vove

The leaders of the Bund in Zgierz were known to use from the years 1905-1906, with their revolutionary, underground activity. They took part in the workers demonstrations against the Czar. They frequently issued proclamations to call upon the masses to struggle and uprising. They organized strikes, hung red flags from the factories and sung the “Czerwonisztandar” (“Red flag”)… They also conducted covert agitation among the Jewish students of the business school, to encourage them toward the Socialist idea. Several of them were arrested and exiled, while others left for America after the revolution failed. What is certain is that they stirred up the Jewish street, and new, strange songs were heard in the weaving factories and workshops.

During the years of the First World War, a portion of the Bund intelligentsia were very active in communal affairs, taking an active role in the general Jewish rescue committee for social assistance. Also during the years between the world wars, the Bund conducted a lively activity, particularly in the professional realm, in protecting the interests of the workers.

It was especially active in the time of the elections for the city council, the community or the Sejm. They conducted wide ranged activities for their desired candidates, with the agitation from the Lodz Bund. The Bund had one of their representatives, Moshe Gross, on the communal council.

{Photo page 341: A demonstration of members of the trade union against the concentration camp of Kartoz-Beroza in 1937.}

They had a large number of members and a significant influence in the Zgierz professional union, as well as in the old folk's home. A large group of Bund youth, called Zukunft, was active.

From among the most important activists, it is appropriate to mention Moshe Gross, B Crystal, H. Skurka, Yitzchak Grand, and others.


The Comparty in Zgierz

by A. Y.

Zgierz was an industrial city in pre-war Poland. Thousands of Polish, Jewish and German workers worked in the various factories, mainly in the textile industry. A noticeable number of workers and also of the intelligentsia belonged to the illegal Communist Party of Poland (K. P. P.)

Since the party was illegal, the number of its members was unknown, however, the existence of the party was perceived in the city. From time to time, especially on workers holidays such as the First of May and the anniversary of the October Revolution and others, red banners even hung from the telephone wires. One could hear their slogans during economic strikes. They often conducted discussions in the professional union. They raised money for the political arrests – “Red Help” (M. O P. R – International Organization for Help of the Revolutionaries).

No special Jewish section existed. The following were known from among the members who belong to the movement: Juszek Horowicz (He was arrested and spent some time in jail); Shlomo Szerman who was arrested from time to time and subsequently freed, for the police could not often find any compromising material in his house, and therefore could not keep him in prison prior to a trial.

At the time of the last elections for the Jewish community, the Comparty wished to present its own list. They united with left-leaning parties, and the united list succeeded in receiving a mandate. Shlomo Szerman was elected as a communal representative from that list.


1. I am not sure of the exact meaning of the Yiddish word 'trolzn'. Back

2. Etzel is the acronym for Irgun Tzvai Leumi, a pre-state Jewish militia in Palestine. Mr. Begin is of course Menachem Begin, who later became the Prime Minister of Israel. Back

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