Anna Smolsky

Unknown history of Kiryat Bialystok

sigh of Kiryat Bialystok in Yehud, photo of the author

The modern Israeli society mainly consists of jewish immigrants, who brought with them the diverse cultural heritage along with their zionism values. Their backgrounds were stemming points for the development of the modern culture and traits of the  State of Israel. While newcomers and Israelis have better knowledge about the urban giants like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, the history of smaller cities and towns are left without much attention even among the locals. But behind every neighborhood stands a unique and fascinating story of people dedicated to the land of Israel and Jewish nation, like in the case of Kiryat Bialistok which is located in the central city Yehud-Monoson. 

Kiryat Bialystok is a small neighborhood, named after a small town on the border between Poland and Belarus. The streets in the area are respectively named after prominent Jews and Zionists of Polish descent. This part of Yehud borders two local yishuvs – Savyon and Magshimim. The only thing which distinguishes it from the other areas in the city is a big sign in Hebrew “Kiryat Bialystok…”. As I walk past it every morning on my way to the bus stop, I have decided to examine deeper the history that led to the establishment of the neighborhood. 

At the beginning of the last century Bialystok’s jews constituted almost a half of the town’s population. Bialystok aliyah to pre-state Palestine began as soon as the very concept of zionism emerged. The jewish community there was influenced by religious movements and thousands-years-old traditions. A lot of native bialystok-born immigrants were pioneers in various fields such as manufacturing, urban development, art and many others.   

Bialystok’s Jewry undergone one of its most tragic and dark periods during German occupation of the city in the WWII. As soon as germans entered the town, they organized Ghetto where approximately 50000 of local jews were gathered and forced to work as Nazis’ slaves. In November of 1943 german occupation liquidated the ghetto and this way destroyed the local Jewish community. Majority of a few hundreds who survived the Holocaust fled Poland to other countries including pre-state Israel. Now many of them and their offsprings live on the promised land and contribute to the country that gave them one of the most valuable things in life – a chance to survive.  

Current demographics of the Bialystok’s population do not show the Jewishness of the town like it was centuries ago. Jewish population was reduced due to pogroms, mass immigration and Holocaust. The memory of town one-day proud of its rich and diverse Jewish life lives far away in completely another country, climate and time. 

Of course, with time the inhabitants of Kiryat Bialystok are not only of eastern european origin, but also from other parts of Europe, Middle East and North Africa. The architecture of the houses and gardens are quite typical of the Israeli landscape as well as the people living there. One might say that the history behind these buildings became dimmer over the years. Hence, it is our responsibility to remember and value the dedication of all people who contributed to the land of Israel.

About the Author
Anna Smolsky is first year student at Bar Ilan University, currently studying Communications and Political Science. She made aliyah to Israel in the beginning of 2022 and all her life lived in Ukraine near Poland. Anna is keen on the topics of Zionism, Israel's population and society. In her free from the university time she works as a teacher assistant in the field of special education.She also likes reading mysteries, historic and modern fiction books.
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