Compilation of Memories (Memoirs)
First of Many Trips to Poland and Europe
I went to Jerusalem to the Polish Consul in order to get an entry visa into Poland. I was surprised to find that I had to pay six lei. I tried to get a discount but to no avail. Due to the efforts of Hochman’s daughter, I paid less. From the Romanian Consul I received papers to spend a few days in Romania. I bought third class tickets for the ship and was in a cabin for four people with food, which came to 5.75 lei. On May 31, we sailed on the boat, “Azia”, from Jaffa. Hochman and Schechterman accompanied me to the shore. The ship was full to capacity with travelers returning home from Eretz Israel and tourists returning from the opening ceremonies of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Many of them were from America, a majority Polish and Ashkenazim, Jews from all countries. The sea was calm and the air was clear. There were people of various opinions and the trip was pleasurable, physically and spiritually.
June 3, I arrived at the port of Constanta, Romania and took the train to Galitz. I met the merchant, Varwack Ptzetchernivitz, and the agent, David Beadederhoffer, who worked out an agreement that he and his partner would send a large shipment of planks to sell in the Tel Aviv market.
From Galitz I traveled to Prosin to meet with B.S.Sheiber and his brother. From there I traveled to Chernovitz to meet with members of Mizrachi to deal with the problems of land. It was decided that when I returned from Poland I would return to Chernovitz and take care of the land purchases of Mizrachi and the family Sheiber.
I visited my family in Chernovitz and also visited my sister Taube Shtadler in Sadagora. My son Aaron came to meet me at the Snatin-Zalutza station at the Romanian border. He brought me to his house in Stanislau, Kashmirswazki 8, which had been the house of his deceased father-in-law. My daughter-in-law Naomi greeted me warmly. They didn’t let me stay at my house, even though my daughter Taube and her husband were living there. The reason for this was the strained, cold relationship with my wife that existed before I left Poland. They all wanted to avoid this uncomfortable situation.
My daughter Taube, her husband and their daughter Hadassah, who was born two months ago and was my first grandchild, came to Aaron’s house to visit me. We were happy together, especially with the beautiful granddaughter.
The following day, I visited the buyers and handed them the contract made with Eretz Israel Hachadasha Company. This was for 500 dunam in the village of Tirra, close to Haifa. The conditions made by the Company were that if the customer did not agree to accept all the conditions of the contract, they would return to me the 150 lei that I laid out for expenses. I had the discretion to cancel the contract and the Company was obliged to refund me the money. I described the land to the customers and how the Company bought the land, something that never happened before. This was on the basis of the contract between them and the agent, A. Levy. I was not to accept any responsibility for this purchase. The people of Stanislau were overwhelmed by the large purchase made by Pahan and his partners. These were the same people who contacted me about the contract with Eretz Israel Hachadasha. They all agreed to the conditions of the contract. I got all my money and part of the expenses. After all the buyers signed the contract, I notified the Company that the deal was closed.
During my visit abroad, I spread publicity about Eretz Israel. I had the opportunity to visit my friend Moshe Katz, R’Shimon Bernstein from Petshenishin, my old uncle R’Shmaryahu Meltzer, I.Arie Freifelder from Scala, my uncle Chaim Metlzer from Mushktutz. In every place I lectured about the love of Eretz Israel and the ideas of Mizrachi.
A friend of Reuben Pahan, Aaron Cohen, tried to bring about שלום בית peace between me and my wife. I had decided to get a divorce. Rabbi Akiba said “if love ceases there is no bridge between a man and a woman except to separate”. The woman who stood before me (my wife) poured out her tears in front of family and Pahan. She begged forgiveness and promised to better her ways. Do the tears of an unhappy woman appear nothing to you? How cam I make a son of my old age into an orphan? Can one be comfortable with a new marriage at an old age? I will listen to Pahan’s friend. I forgave her words and held out my hand to my wife. A few days before I left, I lived in my house with my wife and my son Jacob and my daughter Taube and her family.
After three months out of the country, on August 1, 1925 I returned through Romania to Chernovitz and met with the merchants Varback and Spiegel. We made a contract that they were obligated to send me 500 cubic meters of white wood to Eretz Israel. We would divide the profits equally. I was committed to leave 100 lei with David Neiderhoffer to be paid to them when they made the first shipment to me. I left him the 100 lei after a few days. I was pleased at the success of this first step and hoped to set up more branches in the future.
I traveled from Chernovitz to the city of Vatra-Dornei to the brothers Sheiber. I finalized the contract for the purchase of 500 dunam of land in Kfar Metzer as we had agreed. The price of the land was 3.500 lei per dunam. The first payment would on the account of the shipment of wood, on my name, that would be sold in Eretz Israel. In this way I succeeded a second time to do business.
In Chernovitz I visited Zeide Engler in order to activate the land deal with the Mizrachi members. He told me that he also would make an effort to do so. There would be a special meeting of the committee to send knowledgeable people to check out the land, so that the conditions of the contract would be filled and the land bought.
I was invited to Sheiber’s house for Shabbat and was well received. The second Shabbat, I traveled to my sister in Sadagora. In both places I spoke in the Beit Knesset about Eretz Israel and the Mizrachi Zionist.
On August 20, I left Bukovina and went to Constanta. On the following morning, I boarded the ship, Romany, and this time I had a berth in the fourth class. The sea was calm the entire trip. Most of the passengers, about eight hundred, were pioneers on their way to settle in Eretz Israel. On the ship I met Rav Fishman who was the head of Mizrachi in Jerusalem and Kaplinsky, the president of the Technion in Haifa. The former went first class and the latter went second class. Both, of course, traveled on public funds.
On August 26, we landed in the Haifa harbor. My friends, M Hochman and T. Schecterman and D. Weiss, the latter two arrived in Eretz Israel a few days before me through Trieste, got on the ship and asked me to get off at Haifa and not as I planned in Jaffa.
The reason was to finalize the contract for the purchase of land by Edmund Levy from the owner of Kfar Metzer who was from Egypt. (Note* this is not clear.)
After checking passports and luggage at the Haifa port, the third and forth class passengers were assembled by the port police and taken to be quarantined. Everyone including women and children were examined, cleaned and showered separately in hot water. The clothes and baggage were sprayed with a disinfectant. Afterwards, a doctor and nurse examined us and gave us shots in our right arms. It was an impure טמא act. It was like the time of the World War under the whip of the barbarian soldiers. What was the purpose of all this, I asked myself? If this was to purify the immigrants, why was the first and second class exempt from this cruelty? Weren’t they just as impure as me? There are no answers except by the highly cultured English rulers. For eight hours we sat in the purification waters in quarantine on August 26, 1925. For this degrading humiliation we had the pleasure of paying 350 mille, a real bargain.
That night I slept in a hotel with friends in an Arab neighborhood opposite a mosque.
The following day, I, Weiss, Edmund Levy and his assistant traveled in a car to the place where the land was bought by Schechterman and Hochman. We traveled to Kfar Metzer through Emek Jezreeal, Nazareth and Afula. The Arabs and their Muchtar who sold us the land were waiting for us. The reception was not overly friendly. The meeting took place in the open, under a fig tree with many branches; the Arabs were sitting cross-legged on the ground. The talk between them and Levy was warm until it came to the question of money demanded from him. They did not agree to sign the contract.
Without a choice, we gave them 100 lei on Levy’s credit, even though they got a few hundred lei from Hochman a few days previously. All this was written and then the Arabs signed the contract. After all this took place, I and Weiss went away from the meeting in order to talk privately. I bitterly complained about Schechterman. He agreed to the purchase of the land for a certain sum even before we came. This land is far from any Jewish settlement and it is not one piece of land. There are plots that are separated by Arab fields. We had agreed before I left on my trip to buy only the proposed field, one connected piece of land, close to Afula, at the price of four to five lei a dunam. The magic of buying land blinded Weiss and he saw this purchase as a blessing. He saw this as a success for himself and for those who sent him. Weiss was hopeful of selling land in the Diaspora and thus was buying a future for his friends. That same day, a partnership was formed by these friends and they paid 45 lei each as membership fee to Keren Hachevrah. I agreed to fulfill my promise and gave the treasurer Hochman the 45 lei.
When we returned from Kfar Metzer to Haifa, a partnership contract between the six members was written by the lawyer Levy and approved by the government. The government publication announced that this settlement company was given a license;to buy and sell land here and abroad for settlement, planting of orange groves, vineyards, etc.
On Wednesday, we went to Tel Aviv, where we decided to set up our organization. We chose Schechterman to be the manager and Hochman to be treasurer and secretary, with the office in Schechterman’s house.
On the ship to Eretz Israel, I met a family called Mazes from Sigat. We took a liking to each other and they invited me to visit when I was in Tel Aviv. They lived on Rechov Levinsky. I visited them on the day I came to the city and their house was near the warehouse where I had stored the pine wood from Moshe Katz. I rented a room with the Mazes family for 1.230 lei a month. In their house I found rest. The husband and wife were modest people. They cooked meals for me for Shabbat and holidays.
After a month, Hochman and D. Weiss returned to their homes in Stanislau. Schechterman and I were given over the task of treasurer and secretary of the company Hityashvut התישבות which we took care of together in Schechterman’s house on Gdud Haevri 14.
On the Holy Days of the New Year, I was invited to come to pray as a Cohen in the private Minyan in a hall on Rechov Lilianblum. I came on Yom Kippur. The hall was wide and about thirty people came to pray. I enjoyed the place, the prayers and the three days without payment for the place and going up to the Torah.
Because Rechov Levinsky was out of the way, I did not look for a place for Succot. After the wonderful meals that I received during the New Year’s holiday, Mazes wife cooked food for me for Succot that was like a weekday. In Mazes’s house they did not celebrate the mitzvah of the succah. I asked a neighbor, Yehudah Lisai, to spend the days of Succot in his succah and so fulfilled the mitzvoth of Succot with a Lulav according to Halacha.
After the holidays Mazes moved to the Shapiro neighborhood and I also moved into his new apartment. He gave me a large room that had light and air, but was a long way from the center of town. The roads were not paved which made it difficult in the winter.
(Grandfather notes that pages 102 (part), 103 and 104 deal with land purchases and are not worth reading. It tells of the complications and beauracracy of trying to buy land. RDK)
During the heavy rains, the roads were full of mud and garbage. Another disadvantage with this apartment was that there was no water, at the moment, in the modern toilet. Financially, I was ahead since I paid only 625 mille (Note* there were 1000 mille in a lie.) instead of 1.250 lei. Because of the distance I couldn’t go to the Big Beit Knesset and I went to pray in the house of Shlomo Greenberg on Rechov Tsalnav but did not enjoy being with most of the people praying there.
The most important thing was to make a secure living in the country on the base of the contracts made for buying land. There were also contracts made with merchants from Bukovina to send wood to be sold in the markets of Eretz Israel. The most important was the contract with Varick-Spiegel of August 1, 1925 and I gave him 100 lei. (This was mentioned on page 102 diary.) All of these were false hopes and the illusions. I already described the problems with the land sales. The disappointment of Varick and his partner was that instead of sending me 500 cubic meters of wood, that the profits were to be 150 lei. The thieves sent to the Ofak Bank, 30 cubic meters that came to about 106 lei. In order to get this shipment, I had to pay 6 lei and the entire contract was canceled. There was a loss of 30 lei on this deal. There was nothing to be done even with the help of a lawyer.
Content last updated Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 08:10 PM Mountain Standard Time