Movements and Political Parties in Trzebinia

Trzebinia, members of the Beitar movement, 1932-1933The first Zionist movement in Trzebinia formed in 1921. Its founders were Yissachar Mandelbaum, Bluma Markovich (later Yissachar’s wife), Yehoshua Markovich, Aharon Guter, Avraham Rosenbaum, David Mandelbaum, Lola Zigman, Zusia Leiblech and Malka Eisner (later Sternberg). They donated their own money and organized a local fundraising drive to establish the library. With the money raised they bought books written in Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish and German. After while they rented a hall above the post office, thus commencing the first Zionist activities in Trzebinia.

In 1917, the movement held its first Chanukah party, in cooperation with representatives of the Zionist Federation from outside Trzebinia. The party included a lecture, a show and a dance. The lecture was delivered by a Jewish officer in the Austrian army, who expressed his support for the Zionist movement. Certain groups found this unacceptable, and they put pressure on the Zionist activists not to hold such events in the future. The Jewish town major, Chaim Kluger, was also invited to the party. But as was customary at the time, since he was unable to attend he sent his chef to represent him, which caused great amusement among the partygoers.

At the same time, the first group of youths – boys and girls – to learn Hebrew was formed, led by their teacher, Mr. Rappaport. Some underground members of the Zionist Movement in Trzebinia, such as Avraham Gross and others, were chassidic youth who could not publicly demonstrate their support for Zionism, but nevertheless supported the movement in secret.

Later the youngsters organized themselves into different youth movements such as Hashomer Hatzair, Hechalutz, Beitar and Hanoar Haivri – which later gave rise to Hanoar Hatzioni and Akiva. These movements concentrated all the Zionist youth in the town. Every Sabbath, the Zionist youth gathered in the Hechalutz headquarters for a discussion between representatives of the different streams, across the political spectrum. These discussions centered on Zionism, aliya (emigration to Eretz Israel), the future character of the Jewish state, and more. The hall was always packed. The youth also held conferences and hikes, and expanded their study of the Hebrew language. Some learned Hebrew with private teachers. Those who were candidates for aliya went for professional and physical training in Nadworna, Broszniow, Tarnów, Kraków-Plaszów and Krzeszowice.

The first group made aliya in 1919. Although they did not last long in Eretz Israel, their return buoyed the Zionist movement in Trzebinia, and more youth joined their ranks.

The three chairmen of the Zionist movement in Trzebinia in the 1920s and ‘30s contributed greatly to the Zionist education of the youth, and its actualization. The first, Rabbi Yitzchak Fleischer, brought the movement to the streets and gave it a public standing. He organized the youth into movements whose members fulfilled their vision through aliya. The second chairman, Shimon Lemberger, cemented the youth movements, expanded them and connected them with yeshiva students, who became their counselors and leaders. His cadets remember his talks during their nature hikes. The third chairman, Rabbi Yoel Oter, was an intellectual who successfully combined his chasidut with a broad education. He had a strong command of Hebrew and Modern Hebrew Literature. He broadened the ranks of the movement, introduced new ideas and established additional groups and activities, including a soccer team that was a source of Jewish pride vis-à-vis the non-Jews in the area.

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