- Born in 1888
- Made aliyah in 1908
- Died on March 14, 1968
Tanchum was born in a Romanian city in Russia and received a traditional public education. When he was still young he had to work to support his family and he served as an assistant in a trading house in the city. When the association “HaTchiyah” (The Resurrection) arose in his city, which preceded the “ Young People of Zion” movement, Tanchum was among the first to join. He did so with particular Zionist enthusiam. At the beginning of the year 1907 ( he set out with 3 friends from his town on a ship with pilgrims to the Land of Israel.
While still on the ship they decided on their way of life: manual labor, agriculture and the life of the commune, and they called themselves “The Romanian Commune”.
There were at that time, a number of communes in the world, but Tanchum and his friends had heard nothing about them. In 1908 they arrived in Petach Tikvah, with Tanchum at the head of the commune. He was the only one among his friends who remained faithful to this course at every stage of his life as an agricultural worker in Petach Tikva and as a worker on the national farm of the Jewish National Fund (The Kinneret Farm), where the commune was formed. From Kinneret they moved to Chadera and from then on the group was called “The Chaderaite Commune”.
Tanchum was among the first settlers at Um Juni and among the founders of Degania. While still in the commune in the Kinneret yard there were revealed among his special qualities his purity of heart and his integrity. He, the quiet one of them all, was the center of the life of the group and by his very personality he sowed and strengthened the friendship, love and understanding that existed between the individual and his neighbor.
In the year 1910 Tanchum and his friends answered the call of Dr. Ruppin (in the name of the Land of Israel Office) to come and accept their responsibility in setting up a permanent settlement in the eastern Jordan Valley, on national land. In Tishri 1910 Tanchum and the people of the Chaderaite Commune reached Um Juni and laid down the basics for the first kibbutz in Israel – Degania.
Tanchum loved the fields and was a farmer in his very soul. Whatever he worked at, he did with the utmost meticulosity and thoroughness: plowing furrows, planting, harvesting or operating the threshing machine.
He also loved to dance and tales were told about Tanchum the dancer just as they were told of Tanchum the farmer. He would never join a dance at the beginning, but once he entered he danced with excitement and fervor, sometimes reaching unconsciousness.
During the first years of Degania, Yosef Bussel, the intellectual of the group, would lead disputes over paving the roads of the kibbutz, and only with the help of Tanchum, who stubbornly stood by his side, were his suggestions taken up. Tanchum, who was a man of the field, loved to go on outings in the green fields of Degania and the entire valley.
He would listen in on the secret conversations of the trees and the bushes; he heard what the Jordan and the Kinneret said to him and he told of it in his stories for the young readers in “Davar L’Yeladim”.
His image was, then, a special combination of farmer and poet. He was not a man of words, but when he did express himself, his words bore convincing moral significance.
In 1943, during World War II, he lost his eldest son, Mula, who drowned in the Mediterranean with his fellow soldiers of the brigade on their way from Egypt to Malta.
He and Chaya bore their tragedy in silence and with great devotion they tended Gan Mula (Mula’s Garden) planted in his memory.
Tanchum worked faithfully in the fields for many years and after he retired from that work, he worked in the tool shop. This shop, named after him, and called “Tanchum’s Shop”, was set up and arranged meticulously. He worked there at repairing work tools and household items and he turned the shop into a center of Degania life.
Tanchum was known for his clean and ironed clothing. He always received everyone with a smile and humor. The children were his permanent guests and he received each one with warmth and indulgence.
He died after a prolonged illness at the age of 80. He left his wife Chaya, his son Tulik and his family, and his daughter Malka.
May his memory be blessed.