Academic Article on Orla by Wojciech Konończuk

Author: Wojciech Konończuk — political scientist and historian, deputy director of the Centre for Eastern Studies in Warsaw; specializes in problems of contemporary Eastern European countries, the history of Jews in the Russian Empire and the Second Polish Republic, and deportations of Polish citizens to Siberia during the Second World War. Contact:

Heinrich, Marek, Ray, Eli, Jill & Wojciech at the Orla Synagogue in 2012
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English Translation (Google)

Wojciech Article Adademia Eng Trans
Extract from the above article

Page 7


“They show the highest tendency to emigrate” thousands of other migrants from Lithuania. According to the census of 1911, 47 thousand Jews lived in South Africa, many of whom were Lithuanians, although there were also Jews from Podlasie.

Nachum Mendel Skaryszewski (Rabinowitz) & his brother,  Moshe Zalman Rabinowitz from Orla

An example is Nachum Mendel Skaryszewski from Orla, who first emigrated to Palestine, from where in 1911  he moved to South Africa. After a few years, he was joined by his brother, sister and several other residents of his native shtetl (20) .

Migration level of Jews was so significant that already in 1895,  there were voices calling until the border is closed to them, and South Africa playfully was called the “colony of Lithuania” 21 .

Relatively little popularity before the outbreak of World War I, Palestine, which was part of the Ottoman Empire, enjoyed this manski, where in the first (1882-1903) and second (1904-1914) aliji came over 40 thousand. Russian Jews, including 23,000 in years 1905–1914 22 . They came mainly from the Ukrainian lands, in the most more affected by pogroms at the beginning of the 20th century. Funds from numerous Zionist organizations were gathered to buy land in Palestine, and one of the largest was founded in 1912. Białystok Society Land purchase, supporting the departures of Białystok Jews 23 . As it follows, according to the findings of Gur Alroey, emigration to Palestine was caused by not only the idea of ​​Zionism, but this area was also seen as a potential attractive place to live, and thus the reasons for emigration did not differ from those related to going to the USA 24 . Interesting there is also the level of returns from Palestine, possibly emigration from there to the US or another country was very high and in the period before at the outbreak of World War I, it ranged from 50 to 75 percent. 25  It was from a difficult climate, poverty, limited possibilities of finding work, relative proximity to the migrants’ place of origin, but also disenchantment with Zionism 26 .

20  E. Rabinowitz, Personal Journeys. From One Photograph to Journeys of Research and Discovery , Avotayline Online, August 31, 2016, (access: February 17, 2020).

21  A. Żukowski, Konsekwencje , p. 128; HR Diner, Roads Taken , p. 36.

22  G. Alroey, An Unpromising Land , p. 110.

23  R. Kobrin, Żydowski Białystok and its diaspora , Sejny – Białystok 2014, pp. 67–68.

24  G. Alroey, An Unpromising Land , pp. 61, 233.

25  Ibid, pp. 211-217, 236.

Also further down in the article


Wojciech Konończuk

Table 2. Emigration of inhabitants of Bielsko and Orla to the USA in the years 1885–1914

It should be emphasized that the above calculations do not give the full picture Jewish emigration from both localities, and only provide information about confirmed newcomers to the United States. Uses- the scanned numbers are certainly far from complete for several reasons.

Firstly, as already mentioned, in relation to some of the migration documents, However, the record of a person’s place of origin is unclear or it was written distorted. Thus, it made it impossible the identification of all emigrants from both places.

Secondly, the data included in the table do not include migration from Bielsko and Orla to other countries, which – if data for departures of Jews from the Empire are accepted Russian – was 22 percent. -all migrants.

We have source confirmation of emigration in both surveyed towns Jews living there to Argentina, South Africa and Palestine 43 .

Third, many Jews from smaller towns were leaving, the most first to larger cities, then emigrate from there abroad nothing. As a result, American migration statistics often show their whereabouts, not of origin, appeared. In case of Bielsko and Orla, such a natural center was Białystok 44, 50 km away .

43  For example: in 1905, Aryeh Levin from Orla (1885-1969) emigrated to Palestine, in later years a famous rabbi and teacher; in 1907, Bielski left for Argentina Jew Dawid Abraham Gail (R. Gail, The Gail Family. From Bielsko to Argentina and the USA , “Bielski Hostineć “2019, 2, pp. 63–64); 

in 1911 the above-mentioned Nachum Mendel Skaryszewski, and shortly after him, several other Orla residents emigrated to South Africa                    (E. Rabinowitz, op. Cit.).

Rabinowitz Eli, Personal Journeys. From One Photograph to Journeys of Research and Disco- very, Avotayline Online, 31 VIII 2016, from-one-photograph-to-journeys-of-research-and-discovery (dostęp: 17 II 2020).

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Heinrich, Marek, Ray, Eli, Jill & Wojciech at the Orla Synagogue 2012


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