Arie Leib Gutgold

My grand father Arie Leib Gutgold was born on 1907 to a Haredic family in the town of Tomaszow Mazowiecki in Poland. Out of respect to the Gur rabbi he was given the name Arie Leib after the rabbi Yehuda Arie Leib, died two years before he was born (1905).[1]
Most of his childhood passed in Lodz (where he lived with his family in Solna 12 street). As he grew up he abandoned the Haredic way of life and became Zionist, mainly under his older sister influence. The story goes that when she cut his side hair his father (Shemaya) grieved him and announced that he doesn't exist for him anymore. When my grand father wanted to immigrate to Israel (Palestine then), his mother had to sneak to the railway station to accompany him and bid him farewell without his father knowledge, because she feared to break his father orders not to meet him anymore.

The immigration to Israel

The Gutgold's Ketuba

A day before he left Lodz on the journey to Israel, my grand father married Chana nee Librach in Lodz. The wedding ceremony was held on Jan 24, 1933 together with another young jewish couples that were married before the immigration to Israel. The couples were married before the journey to Triest that was their first step in the immigration to Israel by the young Zionist movement. According to the Ktuba the Chupa was held on Jan 24, 1933.[2] On Feb. 20, 1933 my grand father and grand mother left Warsaw Poland, never to return again. The voyage was held on the "Italy" ship that ported in Haifa port, Palestine on Feb. 27, 1933. After a short adjustment period in Haifa they moved to Tel Aviv where they lived for the rest of their lives.

The hatred for the Haredim and the religion

Raizel Chaya nee Epstein, my grand father's mother, died in Poland on 1937. Shemaya Gutgold, my grand father's father, was left alone. My grand father and his sister were already in Palestine and the rest of his children had families in Poland. When the Nazis came to power in Germany, and as they took over additional countries during the next years, many jews felt the increasing danger hanging over their heads. As a result of this Shemaya begun to consider the leaving Poland and immigrating to Palestine. He turned to the Gur's Rabbi for advise, being a loyal believer (Chasid), and explained his special situation and his motivation about immigrating to Eretz Israel. After a while he run into the Gur Rabbi's personal secretary, Itche Meir Levin, who told him that the Rabbi is against the move to Israel and forbid him from embarking on this journey. This was the death verdict for my grand father's father who stayed in Poland and perished in the Holocaust with the families of his children who stayed their too. The same Gur Rabbi and Itschak Meit Levin with other Gur court personnel have managed to leave Poland with bribe and payments to the German authorities. They used the funds and donations collected from the congregation and the Chasidim that were left to the Nazis to handle.[3][4]

I never knew my grand father well. He passed away when I was only 4 years old (and the stories here were told to me by my father). He was a person with good mood and calm temperment. Only one thing could make him loose his patien - the Haredim, and in particular "Agudat Israel" and their involvement in the political life in Israel. Till the day he died he never forgot their responsibility for the death of his father and family and never forgivven them. It is fortunate that he never meet in person with Itschak Meir Levin as his hatred for him was so intense that he could actually harm him physically (if not more than that).

The hatred for the Haredim and the religious was so intense that he never visited a synagogue for the rest of his life. Even in my father's Bar Mitzvah ceremony he stayed outside the synagogue and refused to enter inside.

Dangarous games

My grand father was a textile dyer in his profession. He had a workshop for dyeing clothes in Lodz with his father. It was a small room in which the fabrics were placed inside the paint barrels until they reached the requested color. In Israel it turned out that this profession was not in demand in the young and just forming new country. My grand father found himself unemployed for long periods and took temporary and occasionally jobs. One of the factories he worked for before the establishment of the Israeli state was a metal processing factory in Holon (in today Holon's industrial zone). This factory prepared the casts for the hand grenades used by the Hagana to prepare hand grenades to defend the jewish settlements. This activity was held under the greatest secrecy and illegally. Indeed, the British authorities never exposed the source of those hand grenades manufacturing. One day my father found in my grand father's bag some metal parts from his work and started to play with them. When my grand father came home and saw with what the child is playing with he turned white and collected all those parts swearing my father not to play with them again. Those were the hand grenades parts that were manufactured in the factory and my grand father was supposed to hand them to the Hagana people. When the state of Israel was founded the factory became a part of Israel's military industries but after a couple of years it was turned into private ownership and my grand father was fired from his job.


[1] Under Construction...

[2] From Arie and Chana Gutgold immigration certificate pages.

[3] Under Construction...

[4] Did Rabbis abandoned their congregations during the Holocaust?

I'm not going to make a moral stand on this issue, but there were Rabbis that stayed (and perished) with their congregations, while others have fled.
In our private family case, the answer is definite - the Gur Rabbi did fled and abandoned his congregation to be doomed.
You can find more information on (Hebrew links):

Yad Vashem, About the Holocaust, Did Rabbis fled from their congregations during the Holocaust, and what was the religious leadership behavior in general
Historical aspects of the Holocaust, The Daat Site
The argument about the case of the Beelz Rabbi