The 1930's

How I made "Aliyah" - Part B

The "Certificate"

I told my Mother that I would get a "Certificate" to make "Aliyah" to Eretz Israel where I would marry Mordechai. Mother also thought that this was a good idea. She was already weak and knew that nothing would change my decision anyway. Of course any mother wants her children near her, but she thought this was good for me and gave me her blessing. Then I went to Yitzhak and Rashel Rogovin and told them that I agreed. Needless to say they were extremely delighted and matters began gathering momentum.

At that time, Henrietta Szold was active in bringing Jewish youth to study in Palestine and prepare them for settling and building the country. The goal was that the young generation should study Agriculture and be prepared to establish kibbutzim. Therefore young people would get first priority for the "Certificates". I also got a "Certificate" (immigration visa) as a student in the "Aliyat Hano'ar" (Youth Aliyah) of Henrietta Szold.

The Procedures I had to Pass

Rivka, Mordechai's sister, recommended me warmly and described my qualifications to the directors of "Aliyat Hano'ar". She received the "Certificate" from WIZO and transferred it to me.

It was not that simple.

I had to reduce five years from my age. This was easy. I looked very young. I was very skinny. I was always dressed with a high, closed collar. I was dark, with big black eyes and smooth skin. This gave me the appearance of a high school girl. Two Vishniveans went with me to the government office in Volozhin. They signed papers in which they certified that I was five years younger than I actually was. They did it willingly because they perceived it as a "Mitzvah" to help young people get to Eretz Israel, even if they had to lie about my age. I ordered my passport there. I also needed a signature to verify my membership in "Hechalutz". This was no problem either as I had been a member for many years.

My problem was with Dr. Vigodtzki of the "Hamisrad Ha'Eretz Israeli" in Vilna. This Doctor was very popular among Vilna Jews. He was also "Shtum Vi A Vant" (Deaf like a wall). He checked my lungs and gave his diagnosis. He said, "It is a waste of a Certificate. You have Tuberculosis. They will never let you into Palestine." I was shocked and furious. Since when do I have Tuberculosis? My ancestors never had Tuberculosis, and I do not have any Tuberculosis either! I could not accept his diagnosis. I felt I had excellent health.

I went to Dr. Perlman who worked at certain time with Dr. Vigodtzki. I told him about Dr. Vigodtzki's diagnosis. He said, "Avoid them. "Hamisrad" is involved with all kinds of thieves. They told you that you are sick in order to steal your Certificate. Do you know what they do with the Certificate? They sell it for a lot of money to an affluent Jew. They survive on this money."

As I also mentioned before in the story about my sister Gitke's kibbutz in Lida, it seems that "Hamisrad" did not have sufficient financial support. To survive, they would sell the two or three Certificates that they got from the British every year.

I filled out the questionnaire and returned home to Vishnive.

At Home

I took a bus back from Vilna to Vishnive. All the way I reconstructed in my mind again and again the meeting at "Hamisrad". I was excited and angry. Was it my destiny? Maybe I should not leave home. And how come I should suddenly have Tuberculosis? The trip felt longer than usual, as if time was standing still. I arrived home around noon. The girls were completing all our jobs with the help of the apprentices. I could not go back to work. I ran to my brother who was in school. I took him out of the classroom and told him the whole story. Angrily I asked him, "What do you suggest? Dr. Vigodtzki is well known and could give me troubles. Should I continue with the procedures or should I stop?"

"Continue"….He said, "Do not worry…..They won't give you any problems… .Just get organized and follow the instructions you received …"

After some time, on September 23rd, 1938, I got an officially printed letter from the Central office of "Hamisrad Ha'Eretz Israeli" in Warsaw stating the following:

"We have the privilege of informing you that your papers are ready for your trip to Eretz Israel on the ship "Polonia" sailing from the port of Constanza in Romania. You are instructed to arrive in Levov no later than the morning of October 6th, 1938. There you will receive your documents and have a medical exam by the Doctor of the "Hamisrad Ha'Eretz Israeli" in Levov. At 3:00 pm you will board our special train in which the "Olim" (immigrants) from Warsaw and Levov are to go directly to the ship in Constanza, accompanied by a special representative of our office…."

The original document (in hebrew)

On September 30th, 1938 I got my visa. It was issued by the "Aliyah" Department of the Jewish Agency. It was sent by the Central "Hamisrad Ha'Eretz Israeli" in Warsaw.

Farewell to Vishnive

Although I was not sure whether I would be allowed to go beyond Levov, I prepared for my journey.

First I notified the girls about my decision. I announced the closing of the business. We stopped receiving any new work and finished all the outstanding jobs. I began packing. I had permission to take stored luggage of 100 kg (220 lbs) plus 25 kg (55 lbs) as hand carried luggage. I packed my sewing machine, which was a guaranty for making a living, and other sewing tools such as needles, scissors, measurement devices, etc. Mother gave me bedding, pillows, blankets, table clothes and napkins. I packed clothing for summer and winter. I took a charcoal iron, and a "Valger Holtz" which flattens bedding after washing. Mordechai's mother gave me a Sidur (Prayer book) and my Mother gave me a "Zena Urena" (women's prayer book) so that I would stay a Kosher Jewish Woman. I also took a picture album and a memories book in which all my friends wrote their good-byes. My Mother was continuously blessing me, wishing me success.

I personally went to say good bye to each family in the shtetl. I entered each house and told them that I was going to Eretz Israel. I visited all the teachers who had worked with my brother over the years, such as Alter Podbereski and others. Each one gave me his blessings. Mordechai's parents hosted me while Rashke told me again about the Rogovin and Levin families. Her sister Freida and her husband ,who lived in the same yard with them, also came to say good-bye and hugged me warmly. My sister Gitke came from Lida. Rachel-Lea, my older sister, came from Ivenitz. It was very joyous at Yaacov-Hirsh and Teibl's, my brother and sister-in-law. Their sons, Avraham-Binyamin and Chaimke, looked at me with admiration and talked about their hopes to reunite with me in Eretz Israrel.

I went to Vileika to say good bye to Mordechai's older brother, Shlomo and his wife Sonia. They owned a hotel and lived in one of the apartments of the hotel. They received me very nicely and made me feel that they got an additional beloved sister. Avremle and Leale were their young children. The kids were very lovely and were attached to me all the time. I stayed there for several days. I received family pictures from them, and all of us were very excited at my departure.


Until my departure, there was no electricity in Vishnive. We used various kerosene lamps for lighting our homes.

Just before I left, they began to prepare plans for the electrical infrastructure. Imagine, electricity in Vishnive….just before I was to leave. There was a telephone. If we wanted to make a phone call we would go to the post office.

"Tarbut" School

Just before I left, there were 200 students in eight grades. An All-Hebrew kindergarten was established. More young teachers arrived. All were graduates of the Teacher's Seminarion (Academy) in Vilna. The school had developed a lot since the early days.

The Teacher's trade unions were established. My brother became a member of the Vilna teacher's trade union. Although a teacher's salary increased significantly, one could not support a family just from teaching. It should be mentioned that the development of this Jewish school could happen because the Polish government allowed freedom of education to the Jews.

The Voyage to Eretz Israel

The wagon was waiting near our house. Leibl, Rivka, Yaacov-Hirsh and his sons helped me load my luggage on it. Then all the family climbed the wagon to accompany me to the train station in nearby Bogdanov.

My Mother was too weak to come with us to the station. We hugged and hugged. Then she stood near the gate of our house on Vilner Gas (Street) and waved good bye. The wagon moved away slowly and Mother looked smaller and smaller until I could not see her anymore.

At the Bogdanov train station there were many of the shtetl people who came to say good bye. Everybody wished me a safe and successful trip. Each one gave me advice. Many sent regards to Vishniveans already in Palestine. I hugged them all warmly. It was especially emotional with Leibl and Rivka and Teibl , and my beloved Avraham-Binyamin and Chaimke. When the train arrived, we loaded on all my baggage. My brother Yaacov-Hirsh accompanied me by train until Baranovich.

…We tried to condense all the essence of our lives into this short trip. He talked enthusiastically about the new teachers who arrived in Vishnive. He was impressed with their broad knowledge, and was very pleased with their open-mindedness, which was much higher than in his time. He talked about his teaching career which had brought him a lot of respect but not much income. He was worried about the future of his children, and the future of his family in the diaspora. He spoke about his dream to make "Aliyah" to Eretz Israel. He asked me to write letters and update him about my life. He was confident that I was leading my life in the right direction. He hoped that I would be happy. I told him that I would do everything to help him and his family make "Aliyah".

We split at Baranovich. He went back to Vishnive and I continued on, very excited, to Levov. We passed fields, forests and rivers. I was worried that I would not be allowed to continue beyond Levov. I was afraid that I would be sent back. I thought that Dr. Vigodtzki was an influential figure and his opinion would prevail. As it turned out, this was not the case.

In Levov, I once again had a medical exam. Thank God! Dr. Vinter told me that I did not have Tuberculosis and that I could proceed with my trip. From Levov, the group of "Olim" (immigrants) from Warsaw and Levov and I went on a special train to the Black Sea Port of Constanza in Romania.

On that train I met the famous author, Asher Barash. He was, at that time, a "Shaliach" of the Jewish Agency in Palestine to Germany and then Warsaw. I told him my Tuberculosis story. He listened with great interest and said, "Do not worry. I am behind you."

We arrived at Costanza.

The trip from Constanza to Eretz Israel took us three days. We traveled in the newly built Polish ship, "Polonia". I was seasick and threw up during the entire trip.

My Arrival in Eretz Israel

We anchored in Tel Aviv on October 12th, 1938 during Succot. Although the newly built port in Tel Aviv was never suitable for big ships, it gave great national pride to the Jews in Palestine because it was a totally Jewish port. The ships would anchor in the open sea, as did the "Polonia". We were then transferred to smaller boats which brought us to shore. The "Gafirs" (Jewish Police) asked me, "Do you have any weapons?" I answered,"I did not come to destroy the country but to build it."

Mordechai Rogovin and his cousin, Chaim Girzon, came to pick me up. They had already been in the country for several years. We were all very excited. I went with them to meet Rivka at "Meshek Ha'poalot" in Hadera. I stayed with her for several days.

My Studies at "Meshek Hapo'alot"

I began my studies in "Meshek Hapo'a lot" in Petach Tikva. My luggage was already there. There were studies in the practice of agriculture and preparations for kibbutz life. I stayed there for two years. I enjoyed my time there immensely and felt "like a fish in the water". The work was hard but interesting. I was considered an author and wrote short comical and satirical plays among others. I felt I was one of the "Chevreh" (group).

Mazel Tov - I Got Married

On 19 Cheshvan, 5701- in November, 1940 Mordechai and I got married. The "Chuppa" was celebrated in Tel Aviv. The attendees were Gershon Rogovin and his wife Tova, Rivka Rogovin and our Vishnivean "Chevreh". We lived together in Kfar Saba for 42 years. We established a wonderful family. We had two children, Dvora and Zvi, from whom we got a lot of "Naches" (satisfaction). We were fortunate to have five talented and successful grandchildren. Finally, I consider it to be a miracle that my two great-granddaughters were born during my lifetime.

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Letters from Vishnive

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