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{186}

The Wind Orchestra

Yitzchak Wajnsztok

Translated by Jerrold Landau


The first pioneers who founded the Jewish wind orchestra in Sochaczew were a group of youth who had the strong striving and boldness to undertake such a colossal step as building up such an orchestra, not having any elementary means of doing so. At the beginning, they ran into great difficulties in obtaining the first instruments. However, they were not deterred by the difficulties, for they had a strong will and love of music. Then, the feverish work to learn how to play began.

This went on for a certain time, and then the results of the intensive work were evident. Avraham Nasielewicz and Hershel Graubard were able to play the cornet; and Hershel Oklanski and Yossel Grundwag – the baritone. Then there were successors, such as Yosef Kiejzman, Motel Groman, Sender Brot, Itche Skornik, Zawadzki, Wolf Itche Galek and others.

During the summer months, they engaged the gifted conductor H. Kumok from Warsaw, who rehearsed with the orchestra for a few months. Thanks to his intensive and diligent work, the orchestra began to appear publicly. But from whom does one obtain the money with which to purchase the necessary instruments? The members of the orchestra came upon the idea of organizing theatrical performances with their own energy, the income of which would enable them to purchase the necessary instruments. The plan came to reality. After an intensive period of effort, the orchestra developed such that it was able to perform publicly with a wide scope.

The feeling grew within the Sochaczew cultural life that there existed an orchestra. It always played between the scenes of a theatrical productions, at dance balls, etc. It represented the Zionist organization in Sochaczew with marching and playing on the streets of Warsaw at the celebration of the Balfour Declaration, and at Lag Baomer excursions.

{Photo page 187: The Orchestra.}

When Nachum Sokolow visited his birthplace of Wyszogrod in 1924, the orchestra took part in the celebratory procession through the streets of Wyszogrod. That orchestra was a source of satisfaction and pride for the Jewish population of Sochaczew.

Unfortunately, due to various reasons, it could not maintain its independent existence during the final years, and it had to unwillingly disband. A few members of the orchestra played in the civic firefighters orchestra until 1939, when the anti-Semitic spirit began to be felt.




{189}

The Sochaczew Newspaper[1]

Yaakov Frydman

Translated by Jerrold Landau


Sochaczew did not stand out from other cities and towns in the country of Poland. Sochaczew also had its own newspaper for a period of time. It was a small pamphlet of four small printed pages, which was published only once every two weeks.

We do not know if the residents of Sochaczew had complaints that their newspaper was published only once every two weeks. Either they saw enough events with their own eyes, or they paid once every two weeks the few groszy which the newspaper cost. One can assume that they used their heads properly. We can rather ask why did Sochaczew, which was so close to Warsaw with its rich press, need its own newspaper at all? Would they have, Heaven forbid, felt at a loss without the newspaper? Why did they expend so much power and energy, as would be needed for such an undertaking, when Warsaw was right under their noses?

As it was, the temperamental youth of Sochaczew felt otherwise, and believed that our city must have a Yiddish newspaper.

The first edition of the "Sochaczewer Newspaper" was published on November 20th, 1936, on a Friday in Kislev [2]. It contained an editorial article with the signature "Ben Y." ("The son of Y.) and the headline: "A necessary effort". Ben Y. writes: "It was a successful idea to publish the newspaper, so that what is transpiring in our city and in the Jewish world at large will receive an appropriate reflection in the printed word."

"One must take into consideration that even in a small city, things happen that must be publicized and dealt with. Sometimes, there are things of first class significance from the Jewish society, neglectful communal leaders, or things that not infrequently cause a great shame, which are worthy of catching the interest of the Jewish population. The disinterest in these matters stems from the lowly societal life in our city, and therefore, I hope that we can improve this with this newspaper, which should make a breakthrough from the previous situation."

In general, Sochaczew with its newspaper at that time exhibited the appropriate interest in the problems of Jewry. This is shown in later articles. An article entitled "History Repeats Itself", written by "Hagiladi", dealt with the happenings in the Land of Israel; with "manufacturing in the Land of Israel"; with the demands of the nationalists and the Aguda, neither of which was willing to abandon their control. The article ends with the call: "The world should know!". A second article entitled "Present and Future" written by Yaakov Z-n, discusses the Jewish economy and specific economic condition, Zionism, the Land of Israel, etc. Further on, there is "Local matters": the merchant's union, the community, telling off somebody or another, written by Michael Kahn. There was an article by some A. B. against cooperatives, and thereafter a eulogy "by the fresh grave of Dr. Yehoshua Thon of blessed memory". The last article in the small newspaper was by S. Grundwag "The Birthpangs of Local Zionism". This was a true piece of Jewish history in his fresh style. It is a great shame for us, the survivors of Sochaczew, as well as for Jewish history, that the article was not completed. Forty years of Zionist history in Sochaczew talks to us with the language of names, old well-known names, and pacts of blood. It will yet be told how the small town of Sochaczew, with its naivete, reacted to the large, world-wide Zionist movement, and the influence that Achad Haam, Kalisher, and Sokolov[3] had in Sochaczew.


Grundwag's article justified the entire newspaper, and furthermore showed clearly who were the planters of Zionist thought in Sochaczew, which led to several decades of Zionism. The newspaper carried on the same train of thought.

The second edition, which seems to be the last, is dated December 11, 1936, 27 Kislev. This edition was from Chanukah 5687 and the articles are similar to those published in the first edition. This edition also contained a continuation of S. Grundwag's article.

Sochaczew did not stand out from other cities and towns in Poland, either in religiosity, or in modern social and cultural life. The Hitlerist exterminations choked off the vibrant Jewish life.

{Photo page 191: A social activist, Menashe Knott.}




TRANSLATOR'S FOOTNOTES

  1. The title of this article is actually a photocopy of the main caption of the newspaper. It reads "Sochaczewer Newspaper (Sochazczwer Caitung), Price 10 groszy, number 2, Published every 2 weeks. Sochaczew, Friday 27 Kislev 5686, December 11, 1936." Return
  2. The date is Kislev is not given here, but from the photocopied title, it can be calculated that this was on 6 Kislev. Return
  3. Early Zionist leaders. Return


{193}

Chevra Tehillim (The Society of Psalms)

By Elchanan Kac

Translated by Dr. Heather Valencia

Donated by Anthony J. Stern and Elaine Goldman

I remember the "Chevra Tehillim" from before the First World War, when, as a young boy, I went to cheder. My father was the gabay (warden) in the Chevra, and every Friday he gave me a list of the members of the Chevra, so that I could go to them to collect their weekly contributions. The money (one and a half rubles) was needed for the Rebbe who taught in the Chevra on Sabbath morning, before the morning prayers, and also before minkha (Minkha – the afternoon prayer); it was for the two shamosim (beadles) of the Chevra, Yakir Shuster and Reb Moishe Aharon the Shulklaper (the man who knocks on people's doors to remind them to come to the synagogue) and the rest for candles. The Rebbe was Reb Menashe Zimerinski of blessed memory. When he was teaching the place was always packed full with people. They even stood outside the windows. He was also a constant participant in the prayers of the Chevra, and on the Days of Awe it was his right to say Kol Nidre, Musaf and Neila (three of the five prayer services on Yom Kippur). The Chevra Tehillim was the biggest in Sochaczew, almost 60% of the inhabitants were members. The book containing the names of all the members was kept at our house. I used always to read the names and even then before the First World War there were names from 200 years previous.

The participants who prayed every Sabbath amounted to about six minyans (prayer quorums of at least 10 people) or more. They were to be seen once a year in synagogue, on Shavuot (The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, 50 days after Passover)  the anniversary of the death of King David. The synagogue was packed with people, and everyone was given the honor of reciting some psalms.  And the respected members of the community were given the honor of Shir Hayichud (Literally Song of Oneness, a series of seven responsive poems, corresponding to the seven days of the week that is said in some synagogues on festivals). Saying the first chapter of Shir Hayichud was the right of Reb Moshe Rechtman, then Reb Leibish Graubard, Reb Noach Deichus, Reb Binem Frumer, Reb Dovid Yitzchok Hamer, Reb Menashe Zimerinski etc.  The Chazan sang Aanim Zemiros (The Hymn of Glory, sung at the end of the Sabbath and Festival services). We, the cheder boys went on the holiday from house to house with boxes, collecting candles for King David's yahrzeit.

Every Sabbath the Chevra members said the psalms. In the synagogue, in summer at three o'clock in the afternoon, and in the winter on Friday night at three in the morning in the Bet Midresh: precisely on time Reb Yakir Shuster called them to say the psalms.

When I was a little boy, I asked to be wakened up too, for I wanted to go with them to say psalms.  My father did not wake me up, but my older brothers went with him.  When I woke up on Sabbath morning, I wept because they hadn't woken me up in order to go. When I got older, I didn't have to plead, because my father used to wake me up in order to go to say the psalms.

caption under picture: Reb Mendl Frydman: one of the prominent community leaders.

The gaboyim (wardens) of the Chevra Tehillim were: the first warden: Reb Ezekiel Kac, second warden: Saul Fleishman, the third warden: Sholem Tzvi Soferman. The participants prayer every Sabbath, as far as I can remember, were: Reb Aba Kluska, Reb Menashe Zimerinski, Reb Moishe Berman, Reb Aharon Berman, Reb Saul Fleishman, Reb Ezekiel Kac, Reb Sholem Tzvi Sapirman, Reb Sender Biezanski, Reb Mendel Hitlmacher, Reb Yekhiel Feferkovitsh, Reb Yitzchok Erlich, Reb Tzvi Nelson, Reb Lipe Nelson, Reb Binyamin Rabinovitch, Reb Naftali Rabinovitch, Reb Moshe Levkovitz, Reb Mendl Stieglitz, Reb Berl Jakobowicz, Reb Nachshen Kefer, Reb Leibish Fleischman, Reb Leibel Taubenfeld, Reb Meyer Bzozowski, Reb Avrom Meyer Leizers, Reb Zisi Kaufman, Reb Moishe Kac, Reb Shmuel Kac, Reb Alter Berman, Reb Hertske Berman, Reb Berish Kac, Reb Avrom Kac, Reb Leibish Knott, Reb Eliezer (Leizer) Zuckerwitz, Reb Yisrael Moishe Zuckerwitz,

caption under picture: Reb Shmuel Hacohen Zaltzman

Reb Yitzchok Meyer Brofman, Reb Gershon Frydman, Reb Shaye (Shaykele) Frydman, Reb Berl Poznanski, Reb Shaye Poznanski, Reb Chaim Poznanski, Reb (Yaakov) Yankl Beker, Reb Shmuel Skurnik, Reb Yitzchok Grushko, Reb Yisrael Shaye Rutshteyn, Reb Leibl Zaltzman, Reb Yaakov Dovid Zaltzman, Reb Pinchas Zaltzman, Reb Eliezer Zaltzman, Reb Betzalel Zaltzman, Reb Dovid Berman, Reb Baruch Mordechai Kahan, Reb Chaim Kahan, Reb Pinchas Sheynwald, Reb Moshe Nelson, Reb Baruch Fleischman, Reb Pinchas Levin, Reb Feivish Holtzman, Reb Hershel Kluska, Reb Pinchas Beker, Reb Chaim Yorzinek, Reb Chanan Libert, Reb Eliahu Marienfeld, Reb Yisrael Wolrat, Reb Ezekiel Kezman, Reb Pinchas Blumenthal, Reb Meyer Blumenthal, Reb Zelig Gelbstein, Reb Mordechai Segal, Reb Shloyme Matsno, Reb Mayer Nashelewicz, Reb Yakir Shuster, Reb Moshe Aharon the Shulklapper, Reb Yosef Satenberg all of blessed memory.

On the High Holidays even more people came, people from the villages too. The leaders of the prayer were Reb Hershel Biezanski and Reb Menashe Zimerinski. The one who always blew the shofar was Reb Henekh Brofman (now living in America). Of all the above named, some died before the Second World War, some went to America, and the others remained in Sochaczew until the destruction of the community.

The Chevra Tehillim was very well established in all respects. It also had a gemiles chesed fund (lending money without interest therefore "Free Loan Fund"). Every Friday one of the second gaboyim went round to collect the debts. Twice a year the accounts of the fund were calculated during the intermediate days of Passover and the intermediate days of Sukkot. Every borrower had to pay off the rest of his debt. There were some who did not have enough to cover their debt. I remember that my father gave them money. They waited until after the meeting and took out new loans; and then they immediately paid back enough money to cover the previous loan, and they still had a few rubles left over for themselves.

Apart from the gaboyim there were also some among the participants who took interest in the poor people and they got money and helped them. And there were family men with 6-8 children, who did not even possess a groszy. Their work was hard and bitter, they lived on funds from the gemiles chesed, they borrowed on Sunday and gave it back on Tuesday, borrowed again on Wednesday and gave it back on Friday. And nevertheless the poor people lived a good family life, married off their children and had pleasure from life. The members of the Chevra saw that children did not suffer, and helped everyone. Mutual relationships were very fine. The poor man lived with hope and respect, and did not bear grudges against anyone. It was said that there was in Sochaczew only one case of tragedy

caption under picture: Yisrael Meir Silberman.

Because of poverty: in 1880 a tailor, Reb Naftali Hirsch, a father of eight children, hanged himself because he was deeply in debt. His case was talked about for years after.

When one of the members of the Chevra Tehillim died , the Chevra members came to pray for the whole seven days, in the morning and evening. Sochaczew had a good reputation for its -support and -help for the needy.

{p. 198: Photograph of : two adjacent tombstones of Silberman family.}

Inscription on leftmost tombstone: Here is buried a man who died old and full of days, who did charitable and kind deeds. Our Rabbi Natan Notta the son of Akiva Moshe Zilberman of Sochaczew. Died 7 of Av 5670 (1910). May his soul be bound in the bonds of eternal life.

Inscription on rightmost tombstone: Here is buried the prominent youth Elchanan the son of Yitzchak Palet, who was cut down while in his prime. Died 12 Nisan 5688 (1928). May his soul be bound in the bonds of eternal life.


{199}

The Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society)

By Yitzchok Frydman

Translated by Dr. Heather Valencia

Donated by Anthony J. Stern and Elaine Goldman

This was one of the main organizations in every Jewish community. Not everyone was accepted as a member. One had to have great moral virtues and a good reputation. They were very special people. The fate of every deceased person was in their hands. More than once it happened that when affluent families did not want to give the Burial Society the sum which they asked for the work of burying the deceased, and there were scandals and quarrels which could last for two or three days. People were frightened of them for two reasons: firstly because they were dealing with dead people it is important to live in peace with them. And secondly, people always were wary of insulting members of the Burial Society.

Caption under picture: desecrated Torah scrolls are buried in 1916.

The cemetery was under their supervision, and they carried out their policy on burials. They decided the place for the grave according to the honor of the deceased or of his family. They did their work honestly, piously, and with purity, with the greatest respect, and without expectation of reward; but after such hard work, especially in winter, when they often had to stand for hours and burn wood on the place where the grave had to be dug, in order to warm up the earth so that it would be possible to dig after this they would have a good drop of liquor. Twice a year they organized banquets.

Every Friday, a member of the Burial Society used to visit all the inhabitants of the town to collect the weekly subscriptions. They made a list of the needy, and took gifts to each one's house.

Picture of Moshe Temes Sheynwald


{201}

Life of the Spirit

By Meir Goldfarb

Translated by Dr.Heather Valencia

Donated by Anthony J. Stern and Elaine Goldman

The " Yavne"[1] school was under the supervision of the " Mizrachi" during the time when the Zionist organizations, artisans, small traders and merchants had the majority in the kehile; led by Biderman and the wardens Mantshik, Muney, Gingold, Lukshtik, they founded the school in the kehile building. At the same time the "Beys Yaakov" school for girls was founded in part of the same building.

The first director of the Yavne School was Yitzchok Shapira. In later years the building became too small for the school. So the Parents' Committee led by Yerachmiel Gersht and the technical secretary of the school Zaynvel Groinem rented more rooms for the higher classes from Hertske Tilman on Staszica Street. Then we pupils were not allowed to quarrel with the Polish schoolchildren as we had before, because all Polish school subjects were taught on the spot in the Yavne School. The teaching staff changed very frequently, and some only taught there for a short time, like the teachers Aronovich, Borenstein, Bialiskenski, Opotovska, Dr. Shapira, Aronson and others. On the other hand there were veterans who worked there at various times, among them the Hebraist Yitzchok Shapira, the Polish specialist Streicher, and the Talmudist Tzvi Drizhan, who before the war was invited to Finland as a teacher.

After finishing at the Yavne School the young people went their ways, either studying further or acquiring vocational training, and then began a struggle between the parties to attract the young people. Orchestras were created, ping-pong competitions were organized, and so on.

Some of the young people participated in various sports run by the Z.T.G.S. This was at the time the only Jewish sports club, and was led by Yoel Miller, Yisrael Ayzman and Leibel Zand.

At that time we were preparing to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Sports Club. We young people founded a basketball team in order to take part in the celebrations. The young people were also active in all sorts of political youth organizations and also participated in the activities (puzzle evenings) organized by the Jewish Library. Naturally, young people also participated in the political struggle. We young people from the left wing had particular difficulties with our parents.

{Caption on Photograph: Hertzke Goldfarb and his family}

It was a surprise to everyone in 1939 when the Bund brought out its own list of candidates for the community elections for the first time. After a successful election campaign, the Bund succeeded in having two wardens elected, Hershel Warshawski and Aharon Greenberg. At the constituent assembly the Bund submitted as candidate for the presidency Hershel Warshawski. So the following situation had arisen in the election for the president of the kehile, Yosef Wolkowicz who had entered the elections with an independent list, had not voted for the candidate of the Agudas Yisroel, Yitzchok Winer, but for the Bundist candidate Hershel Warshawski.

{Caption under photograph: Yudel Moshman}

The result was four votes for the Bund and four for the Aguda. Rabbi Frekal did not want to cast the deciding vote. So it was decided to cast lots. The lot fell on Hershel Warshawski, but the provincial governor refused to ratify the election. Then, against the wishes of the Bund a pact was made between the other factions and Yitzchok Winer was elected. The provincial governor ratified his election.

The elections for the town council were another story worth telling. They took place on May 21, 1939. Anti-Semitism in Poland was then flaring up wildly. The main struggle was between the ruling party that had been recently created by the Folkist Adam Kac, "OZON", and the workers party P.P.S. But the Phalange with its anti-Semitic agitation and boycotts was also quite active.

On the evening of May 17th I was walking toward the bridge with Frimet Degenshein, Roza and Bracha Moshenberg, Yosef Goldhaft, Chaim Sheynwald, and others; we noticed that several people with sticks and buckets were standing at the house of Shimon Krakow and painting a picture on the wall of a Jew leading a pig on a rope. On the pig was written P. P. S. And under that was written "P.P.S. zhidowow Pies. Later we met several members of the P.P.S. and of "Tur" with whom we decided to wash off the inscriptions. Then came the first incident between us and the anti-Semites who were guarding the graffiti. We had the better of them, but they continued their work nevertheless. The activists of the P.P.S. reacted appropriately.

{Caption on photo: Chaim Sheynwald – son of Reb Zalman}

On May 18th Moshe Geier was arrested, and on the 19th many more people. The police were also searching for me.

On the morning of May 20th I was walking with Zalman Rosenkopf to the station to meet the representative from Warsaw, who was supposed to hold an election meeting.

The treasurer of the "Tzukunft" ("The Future"), Avrom lzralevitch was also on the train from Warsaw. After discussing the matter with the representative from Warsaw we decided that I should go and give myself up to the police.

When I arrived at the police station I met twelve detained comrades, chief among them the candidates for the town council elections, Chaim Pinczewski and Weinstein. After a whole day of examinations the group were brought to the beaten anti-Semites to see if they could recognize their attackers. It is interesting: they recognized the attackers, with the exception of two other friends and myself.

That same evening, after conducting the electoral meeting, the president of the "Culture League" Tzvi Warshawski along with the representative from Warsaw Yosef Guttgold came to the police station, and due to their intervention we were all freed. On Sunday, the 21st of May, during the day, the council elections took place in the town, and it was a festive day.

{Caption on photo: Yosef Nadelhaft the son of Reb Naftali}

You should understand that it was not without provocation that a group of "Falangists", headed by Gorski the son of a Polish merchant, fell upon the Jewish voters. However, there were no casualties. The final results of the elections were that the P.P.S. headed by a member of the "Bund", gained an absolute majority. The town became calm again after the elections. Many of the young people went to youth camps and a few took the exams at the end of the school year. In July, we were guests at "Zukunft", and the air still smelled of gunpowder. That was the time of the first mobilization. At that point, it was difficult to travel to Sochaczew.

On Sunday, September 3rd, the third day of the Nazi invasion of Poland, I went to the offices of "Zukunft" and burnt all of the lists and all the files of the archives of the "Culture League".

Three days later, the majority of the Jewish population was expelled to Warsaw. Many, myself included, were not able to reach Warsaw and remained in Blonie. On Rosh Hashana, the first Germans arrived in Blonie and took over the village. I returned to Sochaczew along with a few other young people before Yom Kippur. The Jewish quarter had been burned, the businesses plundered, and it was impossible to meet a Jew. I stayed over at Berl (Dov) Shladow's house on my first night in German occupied Sochaczew. Even the mattresses from the beds had been plundered. A few days later, more Jews returned from Warsaw, and we were informed at that time of the murder of the Gotthelf and Berg families in Warsaw.

In January, a few of us youths decided, with Zilpa Kahn in the home of Noach Deichus, to steal across the border to Bialystock. And that is what we did.

{Caption on photo: The Town Hall}


TRANSLATOR'S FOOTNOTES

1. Yavne is the name of a small town in Eretz Israel that was the first Jewish spiritual center after the destruction of the Second Temple. Return


{207}

The Cooperative People's Bank

By Shlomo Swiatlowski

Translated by Jerrold Landau

{Photo page 207: Sitting from right to left: Naftali Rabinowicz, Yankel Benczkowski, Hirsch Gutgiesztaldt (auditor from Warsaw), Avraham Rozenperl, Shmuel Kac. Standing from right to left: Hershel Gothelf, Aba Rejtman, Shlomo Swiatlowski, Motel Brzezonski, Manczyk, Mendel Plonski, and Yehoshua Liberman.}

The rise of the economic institutions of the Jews of Sochaczew must be divided into two separate phases: 1) The Jewish economic institutions until the First World War, which were ruined, and the entire Jewish population had to emigrate and leave their possessions in G-d's custody. 2) The post war period, when the majority of the Jewish residents of Sochaczew returned to their destroyed homes, and began to rebuild the city together with the Polish population.

To the extent that my memory does not fail me, prior to 1914, there were no Jewish economic institutions in Sochaczew. This was aside from some philanthropic and charitable institutions such as “Linat Tzedek” and “Hachnasat Orchim”, which conducted their activities but had almost no influence on the economic life of the city; and also aside from the small, private bank of Yechiel Meir Tylman.

The situation was entirely different in 1918, after the rise of the independent Polish government. The Jewish population of Sochaczew returned to the city, rebuilt the city, and reclaimed their destroyed economic positions.

In Warsaw, the Jewish handworkers and small-scale businessmen began to organize themselves. Under the influence of Warsaw, a “Handworkers' Union” was founded in Sochaczew, which was affiliated with the Warsaw central organization. The handworker activist Chaim Ratner stood at its head. A Handworkers' Bank was founded alongside the Handworkers' Union.

A little while later, the Socialist Workers Party founded a Socialist Handworkers Union in Sochaczew, and took the small-scale handworkers and home manufacturers into its ranks. Both of the handworker unions carried on an ideological dispute between themselves. Both were under opposing influences. However, both helped to rebuild the lives of the Jewish handworkers in Sochaczew and the economic stronghold, after the destruction that the war had caused.

The Polish chauvinism and anti-Semitism began to manifest itself in the New Poland with the politics of discrimination against the Jews in general, and against the Jewish small businessmen and handworkers in particular. A great danger stood before the Jews after the battle to retain their economic positions. The Jewish handworkers' organizations, both the Socialist one and the non-Socialist one, felt this danger, and a great wonder took place in Sochaczew – the uniting of both handworkers' groups. Thus was founded the “Jewish Cooperative People's Bank”, which in effect united all of the Jewish organizations that were active in Jewish life in Sochaczew – from Agudas Yisrael and the Zionist organizations, to the Bund and Communists.

The initiator of the Jewish Cooperative People's Bank, who invested a great deal of energy in order to bring together the opposing factions to one table and create the cooperative people's bank – was Yaakov Benczkowski, a member of the Aguda in Sochaczew.

Yaakov Benczkowski, himself a handworker, owned a workshop for wooden soled shoes, called “trepes”, in partnership with his brother and children. During the time of the war and shortly thereafter, when there was a leather shortage, “trepes” were a current commodity, and many Jewish families earned their living from them. Yaakov Benczkowski, however, looked a little farther: the times would return to normal, and “trepes” would have less of a use. There would be a great competition. The Polish cooperatives would become close to the government authorities, and something would have to be done so to ensure that the Jewish cooperatives would be able to compete. He made use of the esteem and trust that he had among all of the parties in order to make movement toward uniting them for the benefit of the Jewish handworkers and small businessman. From all of the small party-based banks, one large bank partnership would be formed – the “Cooperative Jewish People's Bank”.

Yaakov Benczkowski's success was great. His plan was understood. They listened to him, and under the supervision of the central bank of cooperatives in Warsaw, and with an initial payment from the handworkers of Sochaczew from all sides – the Jewish Cooperative People's Bank was opened. A supervisory committee of five handworkers was founded, consisting of two Socialist handworkers, and three from “Aguda” circles. The bank began its operations. Its success was evident soon.

In the beginning, the bank gave out loans in the sum of 250 Zloty, which were to be paid back in sums of 10% of the credit, that is 25 Zloty. As time passed, the bank began to gain the confidence of the Jewish people of Sochaczew, and they entrusted it with their savings. The value of the loans was raised to the sum of 300 Zloty plus 200 Zloty of discount for promissory notes, together totaling 500 Zloty. This was a respectable sum for a handworker. It helped him to extricate himself from his financial difficulties, and left him over a reasonable sum for business capital, so that he would not have to rely on the Polish anti-Semitic banks, who would only make the existence of the Jewish worker more difficult. The Jewish handworkers and small businessmen could breathe easier. The felt that they could rely for assistance upon an institution that was concerned about them and that would support them during a time of difficulty.

The Cooperative Jewish People's Bank developed. The bank committee initiated premium savings books, with which a sum of 500 Zloty could be won twice a year. Thus did the savings in the bank grow. This gave the committee the possibility of increasing the credit to the sum of 1,000 Zloty – 500 for a loan and 500 discount.

The bank committee, however, was still not satisfied. The credit was too small to allow the Jewish handworkers to develop. The discrimination against Jewish handworkers and small businessmen became stronger. Jewish handworkers were not permitted into any open work, and the committee of the Jewish Cooperative Bank was obligated to turn to the supervisory council of the central audit committee in Warsaw to ask that they also permit the increase in the amount of credit in the form of vinkolatzia [1].

Vinkolatzia means that the handworker could purchase merchandise from the factory or the wholesaler on credit for his use throughout the entire season. This is so that he would be able to work in peace, and would not have to run to search for the little bit of merchandise that he needed for his work. The merchandise would be sent on the account of the bank, and would be distributed to the handworker in small quantities [2] in accordance to the needs of his work. The supervisory committee did not permit the vinkolatzia form of credit until then, for they were afraid of the great risk that the bank was taking upon itself.

Vinkolatzia was literally a salvation for the Jewish handworker. It enabled him to purchase larger quantities of merchandise cheaply, and the merchant or the factory would be assured of the money that was lent to the handworker. With the consent of the central audit committee, the Cooperative People's Bank of Sochaczew was able to conduct vinkolatzia transactions.

The Jewish tailors, shoemakers, and hat-makers were revived. The manufacturers and bulk merchants were able to stock merchandise throughout the entire season. The People's Bank of Sochaczew assured the entire amount. The credit was issued from the stock of the People's Bank of Sochaczew in small quantities[2], and each item of merchandise was accounted for separately. Thus was the handworker able to obtain merchandise for a cheap wholesale price. He was able to withstand the competition.

The Jewish Cooperative People's Bank existed and conducted its activity for the benefit of the Jewish handworkers and small businessman until the Hitler plague. The bank ceased to exist together with the last trace of Jewish economic life in Poland.

{Photo page 211: From right to left: Holcman, Aharon Frydman, Avraham Yitzchak Wajnberg, Avraham Yaakov Brzezowski, Elazar David Kac and Pinia Wajnberg as a child.}


TRANSLATOR'S FOOTNOTES

1. A banking term that is not in the dictionary, but is defined in the next paragraph of text. I detect the word 'collateral' in the latter part of the word. Return

2. Literally 'one by one'. Return

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