This week's Yizkor book excerpt on the JewishGen Facebook page


Bruce Drake
 

One of the most contentious face-offs in the Jewish shtetls of Europe was between the Hasidim and Zionists, who Hasids fiercely opposed on a variety of theological and spiritual grounds, but most notably because they saw it as a secular movement. (Zionists also found themselves in competition with Jewish Bundists who favored fighting for economic betterment at home rather than emigration to Israel). “Herzl’s Memorial Day in Staszow,” from the Yizkor book of that Polish shtetl, recounts the efforts of a group of young students to press the cause of Zionism in their town by marking the anniversary of the death of Theodore Herzl, who founded the movement.

The account provides an insight into what motivated some young Zionists. The author remembers that “from childhood on, I constantly felt that in Staszów you had to live in fear,” whether from Christians, Russian soldiers or Polish police. But when a letter arrived from an official of Hovevei Zion (the “Lovers of Zion”), thanking the students for wanting to further the cause, “it was like a spiritual catharsis, which freed us from those fears.”

The students gave it their best try, but all did not go well after an ardent Hasid stepped in.


URL: https://www.facebook.com/JewishGen.org/posts/2861207810568022?__tn__=K-R


Bruce Drake

Silver Spring MD


Researching: DRACH, EBERT, KIMMEL, ZLOTNICK

Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel