Volunteering at the CZA

The CZA's staff includes volunteers that help us in the long process of cataloging and preserving documents. Nira Nave has been volunteering at the CZA since 2002, and through the years she managed to catalogue an impressive amount of personal archives. It often happens that during work on a specific topic,we find a surprising connection to our own private life. This is what happened recently to Nira, while working on the archive of Aryeh Leib Horowitz.
Aryeh Leib HorowitzAryeh Leib Horowitz was born in 1862 in Eishyshok, Lithuania. He was raised in a traditional family. When he grew up he moved to Vilnius, where he taught Bible and Hebrew. He was also active in the Zionist movement that was making its first steps at the time. In 1890 he married his wife Rebecca. As an ardent Zionist, Aryeh Leib made an unusual request to the guests at his wedding: instead of bringing wedding presents, they should send contributions in benefit of the workers in Israel (LeTovat HaPoalim) and publish the contribution in the Russian newspaper Ha-melitz. The recipients of the invitation laughed or thought the request was strange, but carried it out nonetheless. This request of Aryeh Leib became known throughout Russia and many couples adopted his custom. Contributions were made not only in place of weddings presents, but on other family events as well. On some occasions, the ads informing about the contributions took a whole page in Ha-melitz. This custom was later adopted by the JNF with a slight difference: people contributed money for planting trees. Aryeh Leib came to Palestine after his marriage, continued to teach Hebrew and was one of the founders of the Teachers Union. He died in 1906.
Nira followed Aryeh Leib’s story with great interest. A few years ago, Nira’s relative found an ad about the marriage of Nira’s grandparents in Ha-melitz. They got married in 1896 and asked their guests to donate money instead of bringing gifts. The ad had initials in Hebrew that Nira couldn't decipher: LeToHa”p. After reading about Aryeh Leib, the mystery was solved. The initials described the recipients of the donation: the workers in Israel, “LeTovat HaPoalim”. Just a few years after Aryeh Leib's wedding, the custom became so popular that the meaning of the initials became common knowledge. Nira was very excited. To her, it was a great discovery.
Aryeh Leib Horowitz's biography is taken from: David Tidhar, Encyclopedia of the Founders and Builders of Israel.