- Baruch Zuckerman (1887-1970)
Baruch Zuckerman AKA Barnet Zuckerman (26 June 1887 – 13 December 1970)
was a leading American-Israeli Zionist, one of the main proponents of
Yad Vashem, editor of Yiddishe Kempfer, a prominent figure in the
Farband and Histadrut campaigns, and president of the Labor Zionist
Organization of America.
He was born Baruch Chayat into a poor family in the Hassidic village of
Kurenitz, near Vilnius (then in the Russian Empire, now in Lithuania),
the son of a peddler.
When Zuckerman was 15, he began to feel the first stirrings of Zionism.
became seriously interested in this fledgling ideology in August 1903
when he heard Theodor Herzl speak in Vilnius. In 1904, aged
16, Zuckerman arrived in the USA (sailing from Bremen on 7 Feb 1904),
where he initially worked in a
sweatshop in New York's garment district for $2 per week. It was there
that he learned to put together sleeves and cuffs for men's shirts.
Later, he graduated to piece work. But his heart was not in the job.
While Zuckerman had been propelled by an uncle towards the garment
his father and older brother had gone into the scrap business. When his
brother realized that there was no future for Zuckerman in the rag
trade, he decided to set him up in an enterprise of his own and put a
down payment on a candy store in his name. Zuckerman was not a success,
and the candy store closed down after only nine months. In the
meantime, it had become a popular venue for ideologists who gathered
there to vent their Zionist fervour. They all belonged to transplanted
Pinsk and Vilnius branches of Poale Zion as did Zuckerman himself.
relationship with the candy store was drawing to a close, Zuckerman was
elected a delegate to the founding convention of Poale Zion of America
that took place on 1 May 1905. This was the beginning of his career as
a servant of his people. As a key member of the Labor Zionist Movement
of America, he was both a formulator of policy and one of its major
As well as New York, Baruch Zuckerman lived in Philadelphia and
Cleveland in the 1904-1921 period.
committed to social welfare, Zuckerman dreamt of uniting it with
Zionism. The Poale Zion movement enabled him to do so. He was executive
director of the People's Relief
Committee from 1915 to 1924 when it disbanded, and
accompanied Herbert Hoover and investment banker Herbert Lehman to
bring food and clothing to survivors of World War I.
In his 1919 US passport application form, he is "Baruch or Barnet
that war, Zuckerman helped to organize the Jewish Legion and was also
instrumental in setting up the American Jewish Congress. He was also
the editor of Yiddishe Kempfer, and a leading figure in the Farband and
Histadrut campaigns. In later years, he was elected Poale Zion
representative to the Executive of the Jewish
Agency in America and to the Executive of the World Jewish
Congress. He was also president of the Labor Zionist Organization of
America. A gifted writer and speaker, as well as an editor and
journalist, he was one of the chief spokesmen for American Poale Zion
around the world.
In 1920, Baruch, Nina and Avivah Zuckerman were renting at 211 Clinton
St, New York, NY. He had emigrated to the US in 1904, and became a
naturalized US citizen on 14 Nov 1912.
the family came to Palestine in 1925, it was with the intention of
settling permanently, but his daughter Avivah fell ill, a factor which
forced the family to return to New York, where she could be properly
not until 1932 that the Zuckermans finally made aliyah, and Avivah who
had been studying at Hunter College in New York enrolled at the Hebrew
University, becoming one of its first students of bacteriology. While
his wife and daughters remained in Palestine, Baruch Zuckerman's many
activities as an emissary precluded him from residing in Israel until
his retirement in 1956.
the Zuckermans moved to Jerusalem, where their daughter Nomi attended
the Gymnasia Rehavia, their house became a meeting place for all the
leading figures of the Zionist Movement. Golda Meir, had to return to
America with her two children because her daughter Sara had kidney
trouble for which suitable treatment was not available in Palestine.
Her husband, Morris Meyerson, stayed behind, and moved in with the
August 1939, on the eve of Hitler's invasion of Poland, both Baruch and
Nina Zuckerman were delegates to the 21st Zionist
Congress in Geneva. They took Nomi with them. The Congress
plenum decided that given the circumstances, the Zuckermans were of
more value to the Zionist movement operating from America, than from
Jerusalem. So they returned to New York, taking Nomi with them. Nomi
spent the major part of the war years studying - first at Columbia
University, then at the Tyler School of Fine Arts before returning to
Jerusalem with her parents at the end of 1945.
idea of establishing a memorial in Palestine for Jewish victims of the
Nazi Holocaust was conceived during World War II, as a response to
reports of the mass murder of Jews in Nazi-occupied countries.
Yad Vashem was first proposed in September 1942, at a board
meeting of the Jewish National Fund, by Mordecai
Shenhavi, a member of Kibbutz Mishmar Ha'emek.
August 1945, the plan was discussed in greater detail at a Zionist
meeting in London where it was decided to set up a provisional board of
Zionist leaders with David Remez as chairman, Shlomo Zalman Shragai,
Baruch Zuckerman, and Shenhavi.
February 1946, Yad Vashem opened an office in Jerusalem and a branch
office in Tel Aviv and in June that year, convened its first plenary
session. In July 1947, the First Conference on Holocaust Research was
held at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where further plans were
made for Yad Vashem. However, the outbreak in May 1948 of the War of
Independence, brought almost all Yad Vashem operations to a standstill
for two years.
died of pneumonia at his home in Jerusalem (52 Bethlehem Road) on 13
December 1970. He is buried at Har Hamenuchot Jewish Cemetery,
married Nina Avrunin (14 April 1888, Kiev - Feb 1984,
Jerusalem). She was also a prominent Zionist. They
had two children:
daughter Avivah Zuckerman (born 15 July 1915, New York, NY) was a
gifted, prize-winning poet, Hagana activist and later a world-renowned
Hebrew University professor of parasitology.
- Their daughter Nomi Zuckerman (born 22 July 1922, Springfield
Lake, NJ) is a noted artist, poet and translator.
His father was Victor Zuckerman or Vigdor Zuckerman or William
Zuckerman, born Vigdor Chayat (born 1859/60, Kurenitz, Vilna,
Russia). Vigdor Chast (47, farrier), Tachaine Chast (20, domestic
servant) and Baruch Chast (18, farmer) emigrated to New York from
Bremen on the SS Brandenburg, 23 Jan - 8 Feb 1904, to join his son
Kirsch/Hirshel Chast, 260 Cherry St, New York. In 1910, Victor
Zuckerman was a Junk Buyer & Seller, living at 415 North Avenue,
Harrisburg, PA. In 1920, William Zuckerman was a Junk Dealer, living at
327 Farriers Avenue, Waynesboro, PA. In 1930, William Zuckerman was a
Junk Dealer, Automobile Yard, living at 327 Farriers Avenue,
His mother was Sarah Levin (born 1859/60, Lebadove, Russia).
They married in 1884/85 and had 14 children (9 still living in 1910):
- Tachaine/Tachaisse (?) (female) Zuckerman or Chast (born c. 1884,
- Baruch Zuckerman (SEE ABOVE)
- Mary Zuckerman (born 1895/96, Russia)
- Rosa/Rose Zuckerman (born 1898, Russia)
- Morris/Maurice Zuckerman (born 1900/01/02, Russia). In 1930, he
was a Junk Dealer, Automobile Yard, living at 327 Farriers Avenue,
- Moses/Max Zuckerman (born 1901/02, Russia)
As you can from this 1930 passport, he had anglicized his name to
was described as an "Organizer", and travelled very extensively in the