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May 26: A Ghetto Fighter and Feminist Politician

May 26, 2014
ROSER 2 (Chip)Haike Grosman, a courier between several ghettos and a fighter in the Bialystok Ghetto Uprising who survived to become a leading feminist politician in Israel, died at 77 on this date in 1996. Born in Bialystok, Grosman was active in socialist Zionist circles and spent the war years passing as a Polish gentile (“Hanina Woranowicz”) and smuggling arms to Jewish underground movements. “Grosman was a good-looking young woman who maintained an almost elegant presence even in wartime conditions, performing potentially dangerous missions,” writes Neima Barzel at the Jewish Women’s Archive. “Her ammunition was resourcefulness, arrogance, courage, strong nerves and constant alertness, all of which saved her from virtually hopeless situations.” After the war, she was a member of the Central Committee of the Jews of Poland and was awarded Poland’s highest medal for heroism by the communist government. In 1948, she emigrated to Palestine, where she became a leader of the Mapam party. Grossman served the party in the Knesset from 1969 to 1988 and helped to pass laws legalizing abortion, outlawing corporal punishment for children, and seeking rights and opportunities for Israel’s Arab citizens. “My rule was not to hold on to sentiments. My purse was always clean — no personal photographs, no memories. I never wrote a word, kept neither diary nor notes. Everything was measured and calculated.” -Haike Grosman