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Frydman, Aleksander Zysha

(1897–1943), activist, publicist, and official of Agudas Yisroel in Poland. Born in Sochaczew to a Hasidic family, Frydman received a traditional education. In 1914, his family fled to Warsaw. It was there that the young Frydman came under the influence of Emanuel Carlebach, a representative of Frankfurt Orthodoxy who was instrumental in the founding of the Polish branch of Agudas Yisroel in 1916.

From that time on, Frydman served in various capacities in the movement, starting as an organizer and driving force in its youth movement (Tseirey Agudas Yisroel), later functioning as one of the founders of its workers’ movement (Poyale Agudas Yisroel). In 1919, he was hired as the secretary of the national office of Aguda in Warsaw, and in 1925 he was named general secretary of Aguda in Poland, a position he held until his death.

A skilled publicist, Frydman edited the movement’s Hebrew journals Diglenu and Darkenu, and was a regular contributor to other Aguda newspapers and publications. Frydman was also deeply involved in educational activities, serving as the general director of Ḥorev, the umbrella organization of the boys’ and girls’ schools affiliated with the movement. Frydman founded a seminary for heder educators in Warsaw, and taught there as well. He wrote numerous school texts, including an introductory Hebrew-language textbook and an abbreviated guide to rules of the Talmud. Frydman published a popular Yiddish-language collection of commentaries and sayings related to the weekly Torah portion entitled Der Toyreh-kval (1938 and many subsequent editions; appeared in English as Wellsprings of Torah [1969 and 1986] as well as in Hebrew).

Elected to the Warsaw kehilah council in 1924 and subsequently reelected in 1930 and 1936, Frydman became one of the major spokesmen of the Orthodox faction. In the Warsaw ghetto he distinguished himself by serving on the public committee of the Joint Distribution Committee, through which he set up public kitchens and supported clandestine Orthodox schools. Judenrat chairman Adam Czerniaków named Frydman to head the independent religious affairs council of the ghetto. When mass deportations began in July 1942, Frydman (along with Po‘ale Tsiyon leader Yitsḥak [Ignacy] Schiper) urged political representatives at a meeting in the ghetto not to turn to armed resistance at that stage. Shielded temporarily from deportation by employment in a ghetto shoe factory, Frydman was eventually deported to the Trawniki camp, where he was murdered in November 1943.

Suggested Reading

Gershon C. Bacon, The Politics of Tradition: Agudat Yisrael in Poland, 1916–1939 (Jerusalem, 1996); Aleksander Zysha Frydman, Ketavim nivḥarim (Jerusalem, 1959/60); Yisrael Gutman, The Jews of Warsaw, 1939–1943: Ghetto, Underground, Revolt, trans. Ina Friedman (Bloomington, Ind., 1982), pp. 228–230; Raul Hilberg, Stanislaw Staron, and Josef Kermisz, eds., The Warsaw Diary of Adam Czerniakow (New York, 1979), pp. 333, 335, 343; Hillel Seidman, Ishim she-hikarti (Jerusalem, 1970), pp. 77–89.