THE TALMUD TORAH SCHOOL
[letter is in Hebrew, note at very end of page is in Yiddish]
Eve of the Sabbath of the Torah Portion Emor, Drohitchin 1923
To the friend of G-d and my friend, the renowned Speaker and Preacher, Rabbi Yehuda David Goldman, Rabbi of the House of Study Beit Avraham in Chicago.
Greetings to you. Yesterday I received your letter dated the 13th of Adar. Thank you very much for not forgetting about me and the people of our city. Let me deal with each issue separately.
Although I do not know about the situation in the United States, I can tell you that the situation in our town is so bad I cannot even begin to describe it for you. Everyone is talking about the trip to Palestine. We don't hear about anything. Business is doing very poorly, and the situation in the large cities is even worse because all the businessmen have gone bankrupt, and even if aid from the United States were received, the situation wouldn't be any better than they were in the past, as you know.
You can understand and realize from what I have just described that R. Yosef David Schub was the head of the Talmud Torah building and school, but has resigned. He has been replaced by Bezdesky, the son-in-law of R. Simcha Lasintzer. You also knew who the committee members were. I realized that it was useless to fight with them because I had no help from people in town to make sure that the Talmud Torah provided both Torah and secular studies. Therefore I gave up. Gradually the Torah study was forgotten, i.e. Talmud with Rashi's commentary on the Torah. Only Gavriel Kamenetsky was teaching Talmud and Rashi. Then the businessmen were worried about the school's situation, and started to ask that we finish the building.
Then R. David Warshavsky decided to finish the school building. I only paid the amount of money according to the certificates that he sent me (from the money that I have from R. Eliyahu Eisenstein). Now we have a building, but we don't Talmud teachers, so what should we do? In the meantime I received a total of 20 dollars for the school from R. Eliezer Adler who was a religious teacher in Drohitchin and who is now in the United States. I hired R. Moshe Aharon from Khomsk for 150 dollars for the term. I got another 35 dollars from the charity plate on the eve of Yom Kippur, and the situation of the Talmud Torah improved. I am also able to fund two teachers from the money sent by Yehuda Milner.
There are now three Talmud classes at the school: a) one taught by Gavriel; b) one taught by R. Moshe Aharon of Khomsk, and c) one taught by R. Moshe Aharon. There is another group of five students who are studying Talmud with the Tosafot commentary: Eliyahu Ze'ev, of the widow Berezovsky, a son of R. Abba Laufer of Horbacha, a son of R. David son of Mordechai, and a son of R. Moshe Aharon. It took great effort for me to arrange all of this because of situation is extremely difficult. We still need money for two hours of independent Talmud study by the boys in the House of Study, but I have no way of doing it. It's hard to again request aid from the United States. My dear friend R. Yisrael Baruch writes that his brother, R. Eliyahu will send us money, but this is only for the younger boys who study at the Talmud Torah.
Recently Moshe Bezdzhesky resigned from his post as principal of the Talmud Torah, and through my efforts R. Shmuel Valevelsky replaced him and follows my advice. I also received 100 dollars from the United States. These two things gave me the strength to become responsible for the school. I used the 100 dollars from R. Eliyahu to pay the teachers.
There are more than fifty children of poor parents who do not have the wherewithal to pay tuition of $1.50 per child per month. The administration and members of the committee come to me on behalf of these poor souls to ask that they be admitted at no charge. I feel terrible about this. What should I do? There's no money left. Therefore, please approach our friends, R. Yisrael Baruch and R. Eliyahu Eisenstein about this. Please show them this letter, and also show it to R. Yitzchak Avigdor and R. Eliezer Adler so that they know what our situation is like here. I am not feeling well and must stop now.
Regards to everyone, and I end with blessings of the kohanim/priests.
Isaac Yaakov Kalenkovitch
[photo:] Stamp of Rabbi Isaac Yaakov Hakohen Kalenkovitch, Rabbi of Drohitchin.
Note: Rabbi Isaac Yaakov Kalenkovitch writes in his letter to Rabbi Yehuda David Goldman (1923) regarding the Talmud Torah school in Drohitchin and his financial difficulties and ideological quarrels that he had.
Originally the Talmud Torah school building that had been built with the money that R. Eliyahu Eisenstein brought from the United States was a religious school. Later the secular Tarbut organization of Drohitchin took over the building and set up a modernized Moriah school instead.
The rabbi and his backers then open a separate Talmud Torah school with funds from R. Yitzchak Avigdor Telekhansky named the Torah Vedaat [Torah and Wisdom] Talmud Torah, which continued to exist until the War.
See pp. 43, 44, 45, 182, 183, 184 and 220 (Editor)
THE NEW HOUSE OF STUDY
[letter is in Hebrew, note at very end of page is in Yiddish]
Sunday of the Torah Portion Mishpatim, Drohitchin, 1925
Blessings and Greetings to my friend the esteemed and praiseworthy Rabbi Yehuda David Goldman, rabbi of the Beit Avraham Synagogue in Chicago, and to the President who provides us with assistance, our dear friend who is totally devoted to public service for the benefit of his hometown, Yisrael Baruch Eisenstein, may G-d grant you both long lives in comfort and goodness together with your families until the arrival of the Messiah speedily in our days.
Greetings to you. With love we the undersigned have the honor to hereby inform you that yesterday we received your letter together with the draft in the amount of five hundred dollars that was send from our fellow-residents of Drohitchin who are in the United States with your assistance for the benefit of the new House of Study named after Rabbi Cohen, Mr. Zalman Kaplan and Mr. Aharon Dragitsinsky. On Saturday night we found it necessary to call a meeting of all the congregants of the new House of Study together with the aforementioned individuals. After we heard a detailed report from the building committee about the building's history from the beginning through to today. The report was accepted by all those in attendance, who expressed satisfaction about the report. Those in attendance thanked the building committee, R. Zvi Eisenstein, R. Yozep Bezdesky and R. Moshe Aharon Berg for their extraordinary devotion. Despite the lack of funds that is always a problem, they were able to complete construction up to the roof. Everyone remarked about the craftsmanship, and requested that the committee continue with their fruitful work until completion.
Among the decisions taken at that meeting regarding the beginning of the construction work, which had been interrupted during the winter, those in attendance stated unanimously to express their heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of the residents of Drohitchin in Chicago who participated in the appeal on behalf of the House of Study. From what we heard, they did it themselves, and their names shall always be praised on our lips, i.e. R. Simcha Miller, R. Aharon Leib Motevetsky, R. Avraham Eisenstein and R. Yudel Tikotshinsky. The renowned community leader, the great woman Mrs. Malka Warshavsky is also hereby thanked and acknowledged for her participation in the appeal. We also express thanks to Rabbi Goldman and R. Yisrael Baruch Eisenstein who publicized and encouraged support for the building. Even though there is doubt that the amount will suffice to complete the building, and even though we already owe more than two hundred dollars, nevertheless we believe that thanks to results of the appeal, we are that much closer to filling in the gaps with additional funds despite the economic crisis that exists in our country, and especially in our town.
Our dear brothers, we consider ourselves bound and tied to you for years, and will always remain so. We just need to encourage pure hearts to help us in our time of trouble. May G-d repay you for your efforts, and may you be blessed with the three-fold blessing of the Torah for everything good, and may you be able to go to Zion and attend the services at the Temple in Jerusalem to eat from the sacrifices.
My unending thanks to you, with great appreciation.
[Stamp:] Rabbi Cohen of Drohitchin
Signed: Noach, son of Rabbi Y.A., Zalman Kaplan, Shimshon Goldman, Chaim, son of M. Aryeh Valevelsky, Yozep Bezdzhesky, Moshe Aharon Berg, Aharon Shmuel Goldman Drohitchin.
Note: Rabbi Noach Kohn and others in the letter to Rabbi Goldman and R. Y. B. Eisenstein speak about the new House of Study, which the former residents of Drohitchin living in the United States helped to build. See p. 41 (Editor)
[photo:] Yozep and Pessel Bezdzhesky and children (from right:) Reizel, Benzion and Nechama all perished, may G-d avenge their blood! Yozep was the treasurer in the House of Study.
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