Home Doll market Remembering the life of Irgun member and activist Shulamit Dissentshik

Remembering the life of Irgun member and activist Shulamit Dissentshik

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Shulamit Dralitz Pashtizky Dissentshik, my late mother, was born in 1911 in Tsarist Russia. His father, Yehoshua Dralitz, was an ardent Zionist and was also passionate about learning the Hebrew language. He arrived for a visit to the Land of Israel in 1924, when he decided he would only speak Hebrew with his family members. He wrote my mother a postcard in Hebrew, which even my grandmother could not read yet. My grandfather veered to the right when it comes to his political views, although Shulamit was more attracted to Hashomer Hatzair. In 1930, at the age of 19, she was the organization’s only female representative at the Danzig World Conference.

With the help of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Meir Grossman, back with his family in Poland, my grandfather managed to convince my mother to join Betar, which later led her to become active in the Irgun. , the Zionist paramilitary organization. At that time, one of her closest friends was Aliza Arnold, who would later marry Menachem Begin. They were so close that Aliza was the first person to hear the good news of my brother’s birth. My mother loved to give speeches at political rallies. I remember how she was pacing the living room of the house while she was rehearsing before. I don’t remember the topic being very exciting, but apparently the enthusiastic crowds who listened to it at the rallies disagreed.

Many important figures in the political and cultural spheres of the Polish Jewish community were visiting the home of his parents, Shifra and Yehoshua Dralitz, which was later turned into a museum that tells the 1000-year history of Jews in Poland. There were reportedly many heated discussions about Zionism and Aliya, and Shulamit spoke about these topics with an intense level of seriousness. She abandoned her university studies in German literature and devoted all her time to helping the Zionist cause.

When Shulamit met and fell in love with Chaim Pashtiztki, she let him know that she would only agree to marry him if they made aliya and lived in Israel. At their wedding attended both Jabotinsky and Grossman, who were heavily involved in the Zionist revisionist movement, but had taken opposing positions when the organization suffered an internal division. My grandfather and my mother tried to use the occasion of marriage to bring about a reconciliation between the two, but to no avail.

The pair agreed to converse, but the two stuck to their positions. Immediately after the wedding in 1933, my mother realized her lifelong dream and made her aliya with her husband. They set up their home in Haifa, and my mother accepted a position as personal assistant from Zelig Soskin, who was involved in the creation of Nahariya.

My mother’s younger sister, Haviva, with whom she was very close, made her aliya the following year, in 1934, with her husband, Avraham Tehomi, also known for his colorful history. To this day, Tehomi is suspected of being responsible for the murder of Jacob Israel de Haan, a Dutch Jew who engaged in anti-Zionist political activity. In 1938, my aunt separated from Tehomi, who was a founding member of the pre-state Jewish military establishment in Israel. Until the day of her death, my aunt refused to tell me if she knew any details about the murder. She, too, had held a senior position in the IDF, retiring in 1952 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

In 1935, my grandparents followed their daughters and made their aliya. My grandfather found a job with Migdal Insurance while continuing his efforts to create an Israeli national gas company that would bring natural gas to people’s homes, as has been done in Europe. Then, in 1936, tragedy struck – my mother was a widow when her husband died of a heart attack. She moved in with her parents to their home in Tel Aviv, and three years later she met and married my father. Fifteen months later, in 1940, I was born. Throughout her life in the Land of Israel, my mother was active in the public affairs of the country, first in the Irgun, then in the Herut Political Party and the General Zionist Party, on whose list she was number 38. of the election of the Third Knesset.

After WWII ended and the state was established, my mother spent her time helping new immigrants by hiring a different woman to help her around the house each day. When people asked her why she was doing this, she replied that these poor women were too proud to accept charity, but that they would be happy to work to earn their salary, and so my mother could help many families.

KEREM HATEIMANIM, the Yemeni quarter of Tel Aviv, today. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER / FLASH90)

I was born to Kerem Hatemanim in Tel Aviv. Sniper bullets fired from the Hassan Bek Mosque in Jaffa flew above us as we walked to school every day. We were already used to being careful and hiding in the stairwells to hide from the snipers of the battles of the Revolutionary War. I will never forget the day we stood on Mea She’arim Street (now Hakovshim Street) and watched the Irgun fighters charge forward to overtake the territory of the nearby town of Jaffa. It was so exciting.

When I was little, my mother would visit a woman named Homkeh every morning, who lived in the building next door. After staying indoors for a while, they would then leave together, and they could be seen crying and talking as they walked down the street to work. Many years later, journalist Shaul Schiff shed some light on the situation for me. “At house number 32, a thin woman named Homkeh, which was short for Nechama, lived alone in the dilapidated attic. His cheeks were hollow and his clothes tattered. We would always see her muttering to herself in Yiddish, and the neighborhood kids teased and taunted her continuously until she collapsed crying. After calming down, she began to sing a sad lullaby in Yiddish to herself.

When Homkeh died, Schiff went with my mother to see Homkeh’s room, which he described as: a. Haimkeh, Toiveh, Zissel, Moisheh… Some of the girls had swollen bellies to indicate that they were pregnant. Each doll also had a few words in Yiddish, such as “She’s a pretty girl” or “He’s got a crazy head.” On one, she wrote: “Oy, mein tateh, mein tateh (my father, my father). All the dolls had been arranged in an elliptical shape on her bed, and apparently she would sleep with everyone else around her.

After reading this description, I finally realized that my mother had gone to visit Homkeh every day in order to help him recover from his night terrors and the memory of losing all of his family members who had perished in the Holocaust. My mom was helping Homkeh come back to reality enough that she could get to work every morning. They walked down Harav Kook Street, then Ha’ari Street and Rabbi Akiba Street, then through the Carmel Market.

If my mother had still been with us today, she would have turned 110. But she died 64 years ago at the age of 46. 

Translated by Hannah Hochner.


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