Chava Smerlovsky (Epshtein)




I joined this movement in 1931. It's main objective was emigration to Eretz Israel. In this movement were carried out meetings and night courses. We collected money for the KKL, obtained by the sale of country products during "Tu Bi'shvat"  in which tree festivity is celebrated.  We carried out encounters and there converged youth of all near towns. Adults of movement " He'chalutz " traveled first to "Kibbutz  Hachshará" (collective farm for training future pioneers emigrant  to Israel), and they got ready to be adapted to certain ;ife and work conditions. Were many collective farms, and life conditions were very hard.


Works which were carried out in collective farms were: domestic works, trees pruning, etc. Also during two years were in Kartuz Bereza training groups. There was activities in which participated our local branch together with the collective farm. They tried to find work for movement members. They came to our branch, and we visited them. They participated in all our meetings. As consequence of difficult situation and lack of work in Kartuz Bereza,the place was abandoned and it passed to a collective farm of a bigger city. 


In year 1934 I went to a collective farm in YBETZBITZ. Together with RIVKA TSHESLER Z"L (blessed her memory) we were sent to help farm members. We staid there. It was a small town, and most of inhabitants were Christian. There they had two sawmills whose owners and officials were Jews. Were in the farm about 35 youths. Most of them worked in the sawmill, some in excavations, women as nannies and in domestic works. At the beginning we lived in barracks owned by the company, and then we passed to another housing.


Women worked also in the sawmill, conditions were difficult and there was not work for all of us. We had a rich cultural activity,  were carried out  reflection night meetings, readings, and we had conferences. Among youths was a group that know to act and represent. Were organized representations, and there converged young of near towns.


After two years, Warsaw central offices decided to close the group. We passed to the great city called Baranovitz. There  were approximately 950 people . We inhabited a house  owned by a rich Christian. We also had other two houses in which we only slept. We made different works. We cut trees,  worked in the sawmills and in factories,  women were nannies and worked in domestic service. Life was not easy, especially in winter, but anxiety to emigrate to Israel and youth happiness were so intense, that we strengthened in spite of everything.


The house which the group used in Baranovitz had a reading room with many books. In that room we carried out conferences, meetings and representations. I remember that actor ELIA'HU GOLDENBERG Z"L (blessed his memory) was with us some months, and  represented a show called: "Listen, England"! of NAIMAN. The content of the play was about the limitations to obtain  certificates to be able to enter Israel. The show had great success. I remember we participated in May 1st. parade together with Christian workers.


Sometimes visited us in training farm, friends that already lived in " kibutzim " in Israel. A lot of youth was forced to remain many years in training farms until getting emigration certificates. The movement center  in Warsaw looked other roads, and " B "  emigration began, which consumed a lot of money for transfer expenses.


In year 1938, four years after having entered training farm, I emigrated to Israel in an old and small ship of name " Atarta ". The captain was Italian, and the poet NATAN ALTERMAN made for him a poem called "Captain, Captain". For further security, before traveling, they told us  we would see Israel from far, but we won't come closer... Obviously we accepted anything. TAIBEL BAYER AND MIRIAM SIMONOVSKY of Vilna and VITA AVIGDOR GOLDBERG of Lodz, traveled before me, but we joined them in Israel.  It gives me a lot of pain the town of Kartuz Bereza, and the many Jews that are no longer.