о.Арониус (o_aronius) wrote,

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Current reading: хасиды и еврейские социалисты

Несколько обещанных историй из уже цитировавшихся здесь мемуаров Бернарда Гольдштейна, командира бундовской милиции в межвоенной Варшаве.

1. Субботние войны: как хасиды с пионерами воевали

In 1922 the editorial staff of our daily newspaper, the Folkstsaytung, decided to publish on the Jewish Sabbath, on Saturday. No other Jewish daily newspaper published on Saturday. Since there were not many buyers in the Jewish neighborhoods for Polish newspapers, no newspaper peddlers in the Jewish neighborhoods kept their kiosks open on Saturday.
We were forced, therefore, to send out our own hawkers to distribute the Saturday edition of the Folkstsaytung. For the most part these were our Tsukunfistn, our young Bundists, who, with their usual enthusiasm, went zealously to work.
On the Jewish streets something new happened. Every Saturday morning, when most Jews, who didn’t go to work or to their places of business, were still sleeping, one could now hear in the courtyards the singing out of young voices, announcing they had the Folkstsaytung for sale. Their cries echoed through the empty, sleepy streets. Many of these young people displayed their “creative talents”: they invented their own rhymes or amusing little jingles to get people to buy and read the Saturday Folkstsaytung.
But the religious Jews—the Sabbath observers—had a very different view of things. They raised a hue and a cry against the Folkstsaytung and began attacking our youthful distributors of the Saturday edition on the street. Most of the time this happened when the pious emerged after prayers from the synagogues and the small Hasidic houses of prayer. They threw themselves on the youthful hawkers of our newspaper, tore the bundles of newspaper out their hands, and ripped them to pieces on the spot (apparently it was all right to tear paper on the Sabbath!), at the same time beating up our young people.
This continued for some time, and our young comrades would show up more and more frequently at the administrative offices of the newspaper, beaten, with torn fragments of the newspaper, to complain about the Hasidic terror. We had to mount a resistance, so we sent out our Bund militiamen to defend our young comrades. This battle reached its highest point when the Warsaw Rabbinate issued a writ of excommunication (!) against the newspaper, its staff, and its hawkers. The religious zealots now attacked our distributors with even more zeal, but the attempt to intimidate us with a writ of excommunication evoked a storm of protest throughout the country. Now it was no longer just about a Saturday edition, but about free speech. After some time, when the attackers saw they could not intimidate us, they grew quiet and stopped attacking our young hawkers.

2. Как хасид в профком жаловаться ходил

One time, during a meeting of the Executive Board of our Transport Workers Union, the door opened and, slowly and somewhat shyly, a bearded Jew dressed in traditional Hasidic garb walked in and asked if he could speak to us. “Certainly, of course,” we answered. “Say what you have to say.”
He had a leather store on Franciszkańska Street, he said, and a few days ago he received a shipment of leather. While he was standing in his store reciting the afternoon prayer, the back porters, who had delivered the leather to his store,stole two bundles of his leather. He was ruined by this theft because he was not an independent merchant, but a middleman. He asked the union whether it could help him get his goods back, because if not, he was simply ruined. We promised to do all we could.

The next morning I went off to the station where the porters stood who carried the leather goods and sternly demanded they immediately make good the theft. They swore up and down they knew nothing about it. Secondly, they said, let the merchant swear we are the ones who stole his goods, and we will return them. So I went back to the merchant and told him, they deny stealing your goods, but if you swear you saw them take your two bundles of leather, they will pay the cost of the merchandise. The pious Jew answered, “How can I swear that I saw them take it? If I had seen it, I wouldn’t have let them. While they were unloading the merchandise I turned to face the wall to say the 18 benedictions of the afternoon prayer, and during that time they stole the two bundles of leather. Who else could have done it? They were the ones who brought the leather into the store, and no one else came in after them. Even if I were to lose everything I own, I would not swear I saw them take the leather, when I didn’t.”
It was clear to me he was right. So I went back to the porters and demanded they return the leather goods or their value. I warned them that if they didn’t return the goods, or their value, to the shopkeeper, then we would remove them from their work places. I told them, “If you didn’t take it, then you must know who did. You must find the stolen goods and return them!” After a short while
they did in fact locate the stolen leather and return it to the shopkeeper.
That same evening, however, they came to our union offices and threw down their work permits, declaring they were quitting our union and were joining the rival FRAC union. “We don’t want to belong to a union that takes care of the shopkeepers instead of us. How is it your business to return stolen goods?”
they shouted. “We will belong to a union that cares about us, not about shopkeeper.

3. Как социалист молельню отстоял

I want to tell about it because it illustrates in many ways something estimable about Alter and the Bund in general.
It had to do with a shtibl (a small Hasidic place of prayer, often an apartment in a building) on Nowolipki Street from which the worshippers were about to be evicted with the excuse that the building had to be rebuilt. Efforts by the Hasidim to rescind the eviction had failed, and they were about to be thrown out of their place of worship. Somebody advised them to go to Viktor Alter—
maybe he would help them. The Hasidim said, “But Viktor Alter is an unbeliever, a Bundist; would he want to help Hasidim?” The answer came: “He helps everyone; he will likely want to help you too.” The Hasidim went off to Alter, and he did in fact undertake to rescind the eviction. He prevailed, and the Hasidim were allowed to remain in their little house of prayer. Their enthusiasm was immense.
One of the shtibl elders went off to Alter and thanked him profusely for what he had done. He then asked, “Please explain: How does it happen that you, an unbeliever, helped Hasidim, keeping them from being evicted from their shtibl?”
Viktor Alter answered: “I myself do not believe in your prayers, but I will fight with all my strength for you to have the right to pray.” This story spread all over Jewish Warsaw, especially among the Hasidim.

Ну и в качестве постскриптума - из другой книги, прочитанной kma_shunra'ой: Next Year in Marienbad. The Lost Worlds of Jewish Spa Culture. В сентябре 1937 года в Мариенбаде состоялся конгресс Агудат Исраэль, ведущей организации ультра-ортодоксального еврейства. Среди прочего, на конгрессе были перечислены первейшие враги тогдашней ортодоксии. Коими оказались: либерализм, индивидуализм, национализм и сионизм. Под национализмом, судя по всему, подразумевались именно бундовцы - других влиятельных национальных несионистских партий в те годы не было.
На дворе, повторюсь, стоял 1937 год!!! Хотя благочестивых товарищей, конечно, можно понять: на предвоенные выборах, что муниципальных, что в еврейских общинах, Бунд выносил ультра-ортодоксов со свистом.

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