A Plea to Help Relatives Make Aliyah from Skala to Palestine (1938)

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Esther Wiesenthal Gottesfeld and her sons Feivish-Shraga and Josef Leib


Esther Wiesenthal Gottesfeld had two sons living in Skala in the 1930s. Her youngest son, Josef Leib Gottesfeld (born 1906), was a Socialist. His older brother Feivish (born 1904) was active in Skala’s Zionist movement. Feivish made aliyah in 1934 and began using his Hebrew name, Shraga.

In these letters written in Palestine four years after he made aliyah, Shraga Gottesfeld asks the Jewish Agency for help. He notes that he has been living illegally in Palestine and asks for assistance in legitimating his status To this, the Jewish Agency responds that, under current conditions, it is unable to help him get a permanent-residence permit. Shraga also begs the Agency for aid in bringing his mother and fiancee to Palestine. To this appeal, the Agency makes no reply.

Shraga never was able to afford to bring his mother Esther to Palestine. She and her son Josef, his wife Dora and their child died in the Holocaust. The name and fate of Shraga’s then-fiancee are not known. He married another woman in Palestine in 1939. They lived in Haifa and then Netanya, where Shraga died in 1983.

“In Skala in the 1930s,” Shraga’s first-cousin Jacob Wiesenthal said in 1978, “most of the young people in the Wiesenthal family were either Zionists or Socialists. The Zionists who could get to Palestine survived. The Socialists all were murdered by the Nazis.”


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