Yona Mordechai ZLOTNIK

Yona Mordechai Zlotnik, Wyszogrod 1857, Plock 1922

From my Email to Jonathan Chipman 28.5.99

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for your email. I am interested in your mother's writing about her parents, who, as I understand now, were rabbi Abraham Naftali Gallant and Etta Eibeszyc Hinda Zlotnik's sister.

I liked your attitude, of concentrating on what the person was, wrote and thought, rather than his other genealogical data.

I too am always curious about the whole world that there was behind the name of a person, which is not only an entry in genealogical family tree.

You asked:

> Anyway, making renewed contact with the Zlotniks, I am curious whether my grandfather's mentor and brother-in-law was cut from the same cloth.<


He would have perfectly fit in Meimad of today - by his opinion that the tradition and halacha should be combined with modernism and Zionism. I beleive he was very much like your grandfather, his brother-in-law as we have just found out, as you described him.

In a "sefer zikaron" writen about him in England in 1926 (I never could find that book) is written about him: "A fast writer, an honest and pure-hearted man, did not change his views for fear of the slanderers and acted a lot to the benefit of building new Eretz Israel".

Rabbi Yona Mordechai was a very moderate person, with open mind, with tolerance and readiness to change, to meet the advancing world and Zionism. He was, like his younger brother and pupil, Rabbi Yehuda Lajb Zlotnik (AVIDA) among he main founders of Ha'Mizrachi in Poland. Yona Mordechai was an ardent Zionist who fought the orthodox.

From family stories we know his widow, your grandmother's sister, Hinda, suffered very much after his death, from the attitude of extreme religious leaders of Plock, until she was compelled to leave to Warsaw.

I have some sources about his biography, mainly the Yizkor book of Plock ("Plock toldot kehila atikat yomin be'Polin - E. Aizenberg, Tel Aviv 1960).

In Plock he founded the Hebrew Gymnasium in 1915 - big revolution at the time in the Jewish world of the small community Plock. In the speech that he gave in the dedication of the Hebrew Gymnasium, he stated that the needs of the human being today are 100 times more than ages ago, and that is why the Beth Midrash cannot give his pupils anything except the Torah, and that is why they forsake Judaism and "go where they go".

He called to find the proper compromise between modernism and Zionism and tradition and Torah. In his speech, he hoped that our People will know to choose the GOLDEN PATH bewtween the two extremes: the orthodox on one hand and the assimilation on the other. In opening a Hebrew Gymnasium he sees an efficient tool to enhance the Jewish culture so that the proverb of the sages of Israel be fulfilled: "Yafe Torah im derech Eretz" - his interpretation of this is that to the Holy studies should be added the knowledge and the modern sciences of the land.

I hope it answers some of your questions,

Shabat shalom,



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