Yosl Bergner was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1920 and grew up in Warsaw, Poland.
With rampant anti-Semitism in Europe, the Freeland League for Jewish Territorial Colonization was formed in the United States in July 1935, to search for a potential Jewish homeland. Soon afterwards a pastoral firm in Australia offered the League about 16,500 square kilometres (6,400 sq mi) in the Kimberleys, stretching from the north of Western Australia into the Northern Territory. As history showed, the plans went nowhere. But for a time, the Australian idea was at least worth considering. Bergner's father, Melech Ravitch, became involved in a serious investigation of the Kimberley Plan.
He left Australia in 1948 and after two years of traveling and exhibiting in Paris, Montreal and New York, he settled in Israel. He lived in Safed until moving to Tel Aviv in 1957.