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Jewish Educational Institutions in Sanok

by E. Sharbit

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The Talmud Torah

The founding of the Talmud Torah in Sanok at the beginning of the 1920s had a great influence on the study of Torah in the city from a variety of perspectives. Until that time, the study of Torah was conducted among the children and youths in the manner that was common among Galician and Polish Jewry in general, and in small and mid-sized cities such as Sanok in particular. We must remember that aside from the old style “melamdim” (teachers) in the “cheders”, Sanok, like the rest of the cities of Galicia, did not know of any organized and consolidated study. Children of all ages were given over to the melamed without distinction and without great investigation into his quality, pedagogic ability, Torah knowledge, and personal character. It is obvious that there also was no supervision of the curriculum and teaching style, choice of study material, supervision of the attendance of the student or his academic progress, etc.

We can say that almost all of the melamdim in Sanok during that pre-Talmud Torah era were at the appropriate level and qualified with the appropriate credentials. Their level of knowledge was sufficient for them to fulfill the role of melamed as was required at that time. During the period between the two world wars, the number of official melamdim – both within the Talmud Torah and outside of it – reached more than 20. Among them we recognize some as being expert scholars. There were also some who were talented in other areas. Here is not the place to describe the personality of each one. We will discuss them in the appropriate place in this book. However, we cannot refrain here from mentioning the main characteristics of some of them. Reb Yitzchok (Itsha) Weill of blessed memory came to our city from the renowned Chatam Sofer Yeshiva of Pressberg (today Bratislava), as one of its choicest students. When serving as the teacher of the highest grade in the Talmud Torah, he utilized a unique and novel teaching style that was previously unknown to the youth of the Beis Midrashes of Sanok. This style was based on the exacting and in-depth study of the matter “in place”. That is: restricting the investigation to the actual Talmudic discussion, with the commentators, and early and late halachic decisors, and utilizing every opportunity to understand matters with their simplest interpretation.

The students of Reb Itsha Weill still remember the semester in which we studied the chapter of “Hasocher et Hapoel” in tractate Avoda Zarah. This six month semester, lasting the entire winter, was not sufficient to cover the subject, for at the end of the semester, we had not come to the end of that chapter of 15 folios. However, the quality of study was great. We had a large treasury of Torah innovations. These included truly novel ideas, deep and serious, as well as some sharp, bright flashes – momentary didactics that are a sort of dressing[1] and marginal glosses[2] that were made upon the Talmudic commentators rather than the Talmudic text itself. The fruitfulness of this semester brought forth the idea of putting the novellae[3] into writing as an anthology (or composition, as we called it then) that would of course include the bounty of novellae of Reb Itsha Weill from his daily teaching. The responsibility for editing this anthology was given to several of the youthful students – those who displayed real interest in the matter. To the extent that my memory enables me to name them by name, we have with us here the poet and literary critic Azriel Ochmani (then Azriel Schwartz), the writer of these lines, and Yacov Weinfeld. The latter also was involved in the actual publication of the composition: that is, the editing of the material and writing it with his own handwriting on special paper and with special black ink that was obtained for this purpose from his father's printing shop and paper storehouse.

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san059.jpg [40 KB] - The Talmud Torah building and its synagogue hall
The Talmud Torah building
and its synagogue hall

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We were then about 13 years old, and if one of us still has a copy, it should be regarded as the first fruits of our literary creativity, at least from a chronological and lexicographical viewpoint.

In contrast to the teaching style of Reb Itsha Weill, and even in opposition to it, the teaching style of Reb Abisch Schickler of blessed memory (“The Rabbi from Wybranówka”) excelled in erudition[4] and in navigating the vastness of the sea of Talmud and decisions as well as the use of opinions, “fences”, and reasoning in areas of Torah and Jewish law that were far off from the section that was being studied. Details on the personality of this great rabbi and scholar will be presented in the chapter dedicated to him in our book.

We will also mention here Reb Menasche Ader as a typical melamed and unique character. He deviated from the accepted style of teaching and study material. His uniqueness was displayed particularly with regard to the study of Bible[5] and concern for grammar and linguistic theory as integral to the study of the meaning of the text. To this end, he did not hesitate to even use “modern” commentaries, such as the commentary of the Malbim[6], or even ones that were so far “off limits” such as the “Biur” commentary of Moses the son of Menachem and his students[7]. On account of this, he was given the title of Apikorus[8] by the extremists.

We do not fulfill our obligation if we do not mention here the name of Reb Lemel Baruch, who was also a typical melamed. We will discuss him in the section dedicated to this topic in our book.

Similarly, it is proper to mention Reb Chaim Rothenberg (Polak) of blessed memory on account of his veteran status in the teaching profession – at first on a private basis and later as a class teacher in the Talmud Torah for the students who had already reached the level of the study of Gemara and Tosafot[9]. As can be surmised, he surpassed all of the melamdim.

Aside from these choice melamdim with unique characteristics, including those whom I have mentioned here and those whom I have not, there were the standard teachers of tradition and scholarship. They would have continued on without any change or improvement were it not for one reason – a general external reason more than an internal contextual one – that aroused the need to search for improvements and changes from what had been accepted. I refer here to the need that was felt by a significant portion of the Jews of the city and the region to send the youths, both girls and boys, to government schools. There were those householders who were concerned about the state of Jewish Torah education due to what they knew from reading or hearsay about the “schools decree”[10]. This occupied the minds of the activists and leaders in the cities and towns of Galicia to no small degree. Indeed, this issue affected the hearts of some of the householders personally, for they themselves were parents of children who studied in gentile schools, either with or without their agreement. Specifically, these were important people in town, from the upper classes of the population, even from the religious perspective. These included veteran religious and Torah activists.

There is no wonder that, from all the various perspectives, they saw the raising of the level of Torah and Jewish study as the only remedy to curb this situation. They felt that this must be done immediately and must be begun in the easiest possible fashion that was already accepted in many cities of Galicia, and did not involve any revolutionary ideas or the expenditure of large sums of money.

With the founding of the Talmud Torah, many things were achieved simultaneously:

  1. The order of study was set by designating specific grades and appointing teachers whose own level of Torah knowledge was appropriate for teaching the grade. Students were divided into classes based on age, ability, etc. The curriculum was set – that is to say, the type of material or subject matter appropriate to the level of the classes. This began from the lowest grades who would study the alef beit, and then progress to prayer and Chumash and Rashi.

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Above them were the grades that already studied chapters of Talmud in the traditional style. Above them were the classes which studied Gemara with its commentators and Tosafot, progressing to the point where they would study the early and later commentators, and the study of the halachic decisors as a subject of its own. That is, the Code of Jewish law, Yoreh Deah section[11] of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law), along with the didactical commentators of the later commentators such as the Kreiti Vepleiti, Shaagat Aryeh and others; as well as the Choshen Mishpat section of the Shulchan Aruch[12] (especially the laws of claims and counterclaims, witnesses, and loans) along with the commentators such as the Ketzot Hachoshen, Urim Vetumim, etc.
  1. Since excellent teachers were appointed to teach the classes in the Talmud Torah, the wealthy parents also decided to send their children there. Thereby, the revenue of the institution increased, which enabled it to accept students from poor families or those of modest means with the payment of reduced or zero tuition fees. It is clear that prior to the founding of the Talmud Torah, parents of that status were forced to send their children only to government schools, or in the best case, to send them to melamdim of low stature whose tuition fees were low, which of course expressed itself in the results of the education.
  2. The organized and orderly study, with all the technical accessories and external protocols such as the supervision of the attendance of the students, the places of study, the following of the progress of the students, the administering of tests to the students at set times to test their knowledge of the material that was studied, the distribution of report cards, etc. – all of these resulted in an increase of interest in the studies, and there was a great deal of “jealousy of scribes”[13] among the students as well as their parents. With the passage of time, Sanok became a city like other cities in which the study of Torah was prevalent. It took on an “essence” of the study of Torah. When the Gaon Rabbi Meier Schapira of blessed memory, who served as rabbi of the city from 1922-1925, founded a high level Yeshiva in Sanok (which was supposed to serve, and indeed did serve, as the seed for the Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin which was founded by him five years later), he was able to enlist dozens of youths who had been educated in the Talmud Torah and who had mastered broad Torah knowledge.
To our dismay, we have no precise statistical facts regarding the number of students who studied in the Talmud Torah, or about any other matters such as the budget, etc. In any case, there was no widespread activism for the Talmud Torah and anything related to it during the era which we are discussing. What was done in this regard – despite all the good that came from it and the widespread benefit from this activity – was not done on a large scale, neither from the perspective of the breadth of activity or from the perspective of revenue, expenditures and general financial activity. The teaching staff was not large, and the office staff consisted of two employees in total. One was the secretary – at first Reb Tzvi Schwartz and later Reb Yisrael Trattner. The former (the son-in-law of Reb Yeruchem Wallach, the owner of the tinsmith workshop in Bełchówka) worked gratis, without receiving any payment. Another employee had the responsibility of collecting the monthly fees from those householders who had volunteered to donate a set some each month, almost like a membership fee, or who had pledged a one-time sum for the Mi Sheberach blessing at the time of aliya to the Torah on the Sabbath[14]. It should be pointed out here that all single occasion or non-regular donations came from those membership dues or a one time donation for the Mi Sheberach blessing. During the latter period, a regular minyan (prayer quorum) was organized in one of the small halls of the Great synagogue, which was called the “Talmud Torah Minyan”. Approximately 20 householders worshipped there each Sabbath – every week a different group of people who had been invited there by the leadership of the Talmud Torah in order to obtain an aliya to the Torah and to pledge their donation to the Talmud Torah. It is obvious that the financial revenue which could be relied upon on a regular basis came from the tuition that was received from the parents of the students, the sum of which was also not firmly established, for it was set and determined based on the material situation of the parents at that time…

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The leadership of the Talmud Torah (known colloquially as the Vaad – the committee) was composed of activists who were chosen at a general meeting. Apparently, their election was conducted by using the list of candidates who were presented to the general meeting with prior consent and approval of the powers in the various synagogues in the city neighborhoods. We still recall the names of the members of the communal council, at least some of them who we saw during their widespread activity on behalf of the Talmud Torah. We also remember the places of their residence, and the synagogues in which they regularly worshipped. There was Reb Eliezer Schechter, a regular worshipper of the central Beis Midrash; Reb Yosef Traum, an old-timer of the Sanz Kloiz; Reb Yitzchok Schnitzler, who had a seat at the eastern wall of the Sadagora Kloiz; and others. The common denominator of all of them was their dedication and faithfulness to the matter of the study of Torah and the education of the generation in the style of faithful Judaism. It is clear that all of their work was not for the sake of reward. On the contrary, there is no doubt that none of them hesitated in bearing the burden of monthly fees as a householder in this city, as they bore the burdens of other financial obligations to the benefit of the Jewish community of the city. We can surmise without doubt that they even had “opportunities” on occasion to cover from their own private pockets some sort of “hole” in the financial budget, or some necessary expenditure that had to be undertaken despite there not being one coin in the coffers of the Talmud Torah. Situations of this type were not infrequent…

Aside from the elected activists who served officially as directors of the committee, that is to say, the regular trustees of the Talmud Torah, there were several people of the city who offered their assistance in matters relating to the Talmud Torah in various manners, and at any time there was a need for their help. One of the jobs of these supporters was to examine the students in the upper grades during the final weeks of the semester. These examinations, which lasted for several weeks, generally took place during Sabbath afternoons. The examiners were invited at a specific time to examine some of the students from a specific grade on specific material. The students were notified of this in advance so that had time to prepare. The level of preparation, or even the need for any preparation at all, was judged by the level of the material and the degree of strictness of the examiner. It should be noted here that, at times, such an examination was an important event, joyous and encouraging for both the student and the examiner. For among the examiners, who generally consisted of sharp and expert scholars, there were those who were able to enter the student under examination into a give and take discussion on the subject matter, and to continue it to the point where the student gave his own novel ideas that he had thought of previously, or insights that he had just thought of on the spur of the moment, during the examinations. These occurrences, accompanied by encouragement and friendly relations from the examiner, would brighten up and bring joy and satisfaction to the student. Reb Eliezer Bremer of blessed memory, the teacher and head of the rabbinical court; Rabbi Eliezer Sprung of blessed memory; Rabbi Moshe Moritz of blessed memory; Reb Alter Meier of blessed memory; Reb Yitzchok Granik and Reb Simcha Mund – the latter two who live with us today here, may they live long, were among these examiners.

I was often fortunate to have been examined by the aforementioned examiners, and I still recall the satisfaction and contentment that I received from these examinations. Indeed, I will never forget the moments of enjoyment and sublimity that I felt on one occasion when I was examined in this manner by Reb Moshe Kanner of blessed memory. He was an expert scholar and enchanting personality, and the feeling and recognition of with whom and before whom I was sitting never left me for even one moment during the examination and the conversation that it entailed.

A recognizable, albeit not large, change in the Talmud Torah, at least in the administrative realm, took place at the time of the visit to our city by Mr. Jonas, a Sanok native who lived in America, and who was a wealthy philanthropist. With the influence of the activists of the city, and as was told then, also with the influence of his brother Mr. Tzvi Jonas, this philanthropist opened up his hand and heart to the various needs of the Jewish population of Sanok, and donated generously to private, individual causes as well as to the Jewish institutions of Sanok, so that they could be maintained and improved.

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san063.jpg [40 KB] - Members of the committee and leadership of the Talmud Torah
Members of the committee and leadership of the Talmud Torah on the occasion
of the visit of the philanthropist Mr. Max Jonas to Sanok in the year 5685

Sitting from right to left: Reb Moshe Moritz, the rabbi and head of the rabbinical court
Reb Eliezer Bremer, ?, Reb Yaakov Graber, Reb Yosef Traum, Mr. Max Jonas, Dr. Shlomo Roemer,
Reb Tzvi Jonas, Reb Shalom Salik, Reb Tzvi Amsel.
Standing from right to left: Reb Yitzchok Schnitzler, ?, ?, Reb Petachia Miller, Reb Tzvi-David Wilner,
Reb Tzvi Schwartz, Reb Yitzchok Gurfein, Reb Yosef Springer, ?, Reb Yisrael Trattner.

(Translator's note, the date on the photo is July 22, 1925, and the photographer's name is Gottdank.)

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Among these, the Talmud Torah benefited from an important donation that was intended to provide for a building which would house all the classes, the offices, and especially a large, splendid hall that served first and foremost as a regular synagogue for a large congregation that would bring in significant fixed income. Aside from that, it would serve as a venue for all types of parties and festivities for a fee – something which was missing and the need of which was felt in our town. This would guarantee proper financial income at all times of the year.

A splendid three story building was erected in the center of the city, at the western edge of the Rynek (city square) on a plot of land that was purchased. It served as a central place for the Jews of the city, who took pride and were blessed through it. It began to fulfill all of its roles and to actualize the intentions that were instilled in it. To our dismay, the building did not last, and we did not succeed in continuing the development and maintenance of the Talmud Torah building. It met the same fate as all of the synagogues and gathering places in the city, which were burned and destroyed along with all of their Torah scrolls. The reader will find more extensive details on this matter in the appropriate chapter of our book.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. The term 'dressing' refers to non-essential, brief interpretations, as opposed to critical interpretations covering the main body of the text. return
  2. The word novella (pl novellae) is an actual translation of a Jewish concept called a 'chidush' 'chidushim', which refers to a rabbinical essay which innovates a new Torah thought. return
  3. A 'gloss' or 'marginal gloss' – in many rabbinical texts, including the Talmud, there are many brief commentators in the margin that provide brief elucidation of the text without going into depth. These are often referred to in English as glosses, or 'marginal glosses' to stress that they occur in the margin. return
  4. The Hebrew term 'bekiut', when used to describe a learning style, implies more than erudition. It implies a choice of breadth (covering large amounts of material) over depth. return
  5. In traditional Jewish cheders of yore (and even today in many Orthodox circles), Bible study (aside from the five books of the Torah) was minimized, and the study of Jewish Law, Mishnah, and Talmud was maximized. return
  6. A well-known traditional Bible Commentator from the 1800s. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malbim. return
  7. This is the commentary of Moses Mendelssohn. return
  8. Apikoros (Epicurian) is the term used for a Jewish heretic. return
  9. Tosafot (literally additions), is a compendium of primary Talmudic commentaries that is published directly on the Talmudic folios. return
  10. A decree from the Austrian Hungarian Empire that all Jews must be educated in government schools. return
  11. The Yoreh Deah section of the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) deals with the laws of forbidden and permitted foods, idol worship, and various other areas of Jewish law. return
  12. The Choshen Mishpat section of the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) deals with tortes, jurisprudence, etc. return
  13. A term denoting interest in academia. return
  14. A Mi Sheberach is a formula for wishing success and wellbeing to a person who had received a Torah honor (aliya) in the synagogue. In some communities, this occasion was used to pledge money to charity, in which case the Mi Sheberach formula would be enhanced. return

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The Beginning of Modern Religious Education in Sanok

by Eliahu Berger

Translated by Jerrold Landau

A. The Modern Cheder

Immediately after the conclusion of the First World War and the with the beginning of the renewal of Jewish life in the city, the Agudat Mizrachi in Sanok founded a modern religious school, that is, a Talmud Torah which used a new teaching style. The educational director of this school was Mr. Avraham Lowen, who lives with us here today, may he live long! He himself wrote booklets on the teaching of Mishna based on selected chapters, and not on the order of the Mishna. The curriculum was relatively rich for the time. The language of instruction was Yiddish but the curriculum included the study of the Hebrew language, and the “Hebrew in Hebrew” teaching style was utilized. The writer of these lines was fortunate to participate, and to be accepted as a teacher of Hebrew in that educational institution. Reb Yitzchok Messer of blessed memory was among the teachers. He died in exile in Siberia during the Second World War. He taught Bible and Jewish law while Mr. A. Levin taught Talmud, Mishna, and other subjects. The school was housed on the first floor of the Yad Charutzim hall. Many students streamed in to study in that school. The lessons were frontal: the teacher lectured from a stage as was the custom in government schools of those days. We obtained appropriate furnishings and equipment for the school, and we attempted to set up its external appearance to match that of the government schools. This school was very successful. Its graduates include several people who are with us today in the Land, including Azriel Ochmani, Yechiel Kiehl, my son Reb Shmerel Bergenbaum, and others.*


* Note: there is a footnote in the text here as follows: The reader can find additional details in the announcement that was published in Yom Tov Blatt (page 2, row 3, under the heading #147;Schools”) by the school, published in Sanok on the eve of Rosh Hashanah 5680 (1920). A photocopy of its two pages is included later in the appropriate place in our book (pages 205-206).

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On the Gymnasium Bench in Sanok

by Gershon Givoni Pipe

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Before me lies a memorial book of the Sanok Gymnasium “Ksiega Pamiatkowa Gimnazjum Meskiego w Sanoku” that was published on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the gymnasium (1888-1958). The book is edited in good form and it is clear that a great deal of effort and diligence was put into it. Love of this ancient city and a desire to nurture its significance and its natural beauty exudes from the articles. One must be surprised and dismayed that in such a voluminous book (containing more than 350 pages) there is almost no mention of the Jews of the city (except for names of Jewish gymnasium students that are included in the lists of graduates of the institution, and a very brief article about “Nota Feid” in the spirit of possible anti-Semitism and possible romanticism of days gone by). Jews are not spoken of, as if they did not exist as an independent body within the town or even within the walls of the educational institution which graduated thousands of graduates, including hundreds of Jews, throughout its 70 years of existence.

It is unfortunate that the book does not even include statistical facts about the variegated Jewish population of our town – a form of communal ledger from which it would be possible to glean informational facts about our native town where we spent the best years of our youth. Since we do not possess historical material and data that would be sufficient for the compilation of a monograph on the Jewish youth of Sanok between the two world wars, which we could use for obtaining memoirs related to this topic, I hope that my memory will serve me correctly.

It is possible to state with a large degree of certainty that the vast majority of the Jewish youth were under the influence of the various Zionist organizations, and that the pioneering movements of Hashomer Hatzair, Gordonia, Hanoar Hatzioni, and Akiva encompassed most of them. The religious youth were for the most part under the influence of the religious organizations of the Zionist movement, Mizrachi and HaPoel Hamizrachi. Later on, Beitar youth movements arose. The Bund was barely noticeable in the life of the city. The Communist Party began to operate during the 1930s among the Jewish youth, not without success, even though it was difficult for it to assert its power from the underground.

This time I wish to present a bundle of memories that will demonstrate the successful influence of the pioneering youth movements upon their charges.


Already during my early childhood, when I was 11 or 12 years old, the group of youngsters in my neighborhood did not satisfy me, and I began to accompany my elder brother Shmuel Zeinwil of blessed memory, who was a member of the Hechalutz in the group of Moshe Messer of blessed memory. We would gather together in the Optekara primarily on Sabbaths, sit in a semicircle and listen to him speak about the persecution of the Jews of Poland, Hashomer in the Land, and other such things. The noble face of the educator who spoke words that came from the heart and penetrated the heart of his young charges instilled also in me a sense of connectedness to this group. I wished to join their ranks with all my heart, even though a large age gap separated me from them. The late Shmuel Zeinwil did not wish to bring me into the pioneering movement too early, even though he himself was an enthusiastic follower of it. I would therefore come in stealth,

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hide behind the trees and absorb the words of the group leader with thirst. I was also an admirer of my elder brother who, with time, accepted upon himself the task of leading a group of Stam-Chalutz, and was already a member of the leadership of the chapter. Later he became the secretary of the local leadership of Hashomer Hatzair in Sanok.

When I reached the age of Bar Mitzvah and was still studying Gemara with Reb Chaim Rothenberg – the Gemara teacher of the Talmud Torah, who for some reason was called Chaim Polk by everyone – I would often glance into the Hashomer Hatzair hall and continue making efforts to be accepted as a member of the Aryeh educational group which was lead by Mondek Poritz, who was revered by all of his charges, including me. My desire was granted to me. As I was standing at the crossroads after concluding my course of studies in the elementary school and the cheder, Shmuel Zeinwil exerted pressure to permit me to continue my studies in the gymnasium. The teachers in the Talmud Torah recommended that I continue my studies in a Yeshiva, but my father of blessed memory wanted

Photo page 75: The building of the boys' gymnasium

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me to follow the path of my other brothers and study the tailoring trade, the profession of my father of blessed memory, which assures a livelihood to its practitioners.

I studied for my entrance examination to the gymnasium and decided on my studies, but I did not forego the movement. On the contrary, I increased my efforts in the activities of the students, and I joined myself with the ideals that had always been my guiding light. I divided my time between school, giving lessons to failing students (for I had to pay tuition and purchase books), and my friends in the local Hashomer Hatzair chapter. I do not know how, but it is a fact that despite the time pressures, I succeeded in all of these many activities and did not sit idly at any of these endeavors, as did many of the active youth who were educated in the group with me.


I will now relate one incident that is etched in my memory. We were in the sixth or seventh grade. On Sabbaths we went out to activities outside the city, and spent our time in group discussions, group activities or just passing time in the area of the quarry next to Trepcza. We conducted a scouting parade with full Shomrim dress on festivals and national celebrations.

Membership in the movement was illegal in Poland. Furthermore, when Hashomer Hatzair was considered by the authorities of being associated with Communism, it was difficult to keep a secret in town. However, since the connections between us and the gentiles were quite restricted, we somehow succeeded in evading the situation, and continuing our active membership in the movement even while we were within the walls of the high school.

A period of ferment among the youth ensued. The competition for the soul of the Jewish youth was great. Hashomer Hatzair, with its splendid educational tradition, was not the only one on the Jewish street, and it was a long time from the days when the General Zionists would spread their protection over the movement and encircle it with love. An era of scheming began toward the left leaning movement, and there was no shortage of slander to the authorities. There were break-ins to the chapter headquarters, as well as destructive acts such as the breaking of the doors of the bookcase, the tearing of books, and the like.

One day, we, members of the chapter, were called one by one into the principal's office in the middle of class. The principal took out a photograph of a scouting event in the quarry and asked us to explain the uniform. We maintained our innocence. Our answer was (at recess, we discussed what to say), that on Lag Baomer Jewish youth would go out to enjoy ourselves in the bosom of nature, and we had done the same. We thereby evaded a debate with the principal, but the episode did not end with this. The issue was brought to a meeting of the teachers for adjudication. The principal of the gymnasium (Director Grosla) demanded our expulsion from the school. Yosef Apel, the teacher of Jewish religion, intervened in our favor. He pointed out that we were excellent students and declared our innocence, stating that we were not members in any illegal youth movement. Father Wanat, who taught religion to the Christians and was generally not known to have anti-Semitic leanings, displayed a cruel spirit at this time. He claimed that his colleague should be believed, but wished to warn us severely that we should not be so brazen as to forge relations with any organization outside of the walls of the school. If we did not accept this, we would be expelled from the gymnasium.

Professor Apel called me for a private discussion. He told me about the proceedings of the meeting and demanded that I leave the movement, or at least cease all activities in it, for his personal honor was vested in this matter. He also requested that I instruct the rest of the members to follow in my footsteps. My situation was very serious. I understood the spirit of Professor

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Apel, who was good and meant well. I thought about the matter and answered him very politely. Of course I thanked him for his intercession in our favor. I also appreciated his demand on us, based on his desire to protect our chances of remaining within the gymnasium until after the matriculation examinations. However, at the end of the matter, I was unable to deal falsely with my soul. I responded to him that I would continue to be active in the movement even though the matter was fraught with danger. (At that time there was a hunt against Communists, and Jewish students had been imprisoned. As has been mentioned, we were suspected of being Communist supporters.) I read the eyes of the goodhearted Professor Apel, noting his disappointment about my answer. I did not change my mind, however, and I continued with my activities, along with my friends, with greater energy. When we were in the upper grades, we were asked to perform tasks of greater responsibility.

I still recall an episode related to this. There was great ferment among the youth in the upper grades of the gymnasium at that time. During that time, the 1930s, there was unemployment in the country, and the matters often reached the point of a difficult struggle among the unemployed workers (from the Jalniwski Factory) and the police and the army. The authorities vigilantly followed the political activities of the workers' organizations, and especially the Communist Party which was persecuted with great severity. The teachers hinted, each according to his way and his spirit, about my membership in an underground organization. The Latin teacher Klimk mockingly nicknamed me “Rabbi Akiva”. Birnacki, the teacher of Polonistics, told the class publicly that the teaching staff knew that I belonged to a Zionist organization. Dr. Bzaluk, a Ukrainian nationalist with whom I enjoyed particularly close relations, once talked to me at length outside of school and asked me what I intended to do after my matriculation examinations. I answered him openly and honestly. The conversation was pleasant, and the smile on his face could only mean that he understood that this was a confirmation of information that he already knew. He even expressed his concurrence with my plan. I did not suspect that he would use my words for ill purposes. On the contrary, I felt that he would keep the matter secret – and I was not mistaken. Nobody again came to dispute our status within the school. We took our matriculation examinations without our activities in the movement having any effect at all.

Photo page 77: A class in the girls' gymnasium

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Jewish Graduates of the Government Gymnasium in Sanok

by Ozer and Gershon Pipe

Translated by Jerrold Landau

In the memorial book of 70 years of the existence of the gymnasium in Sanok (1888-1958[1]), we find a detailed list of the graduates of the gymnasium who received their matriculation diplomas (pages 339-154).

The following is a list of Jewish graduates that was prepared based on the aforementioned list, and covers the years 1888-1939. It is possible that there may be some scattered errors due to lack of clarity of the names. Therefore, we would be happy if the reader rectifies this. A girls' gymnasium was established in Sanok during the 1930s, and they are included in this list to the extent that they took their matriculation examinations in the boys' gymnasium. For each year, we note the percentage of Jewish students from among the total of those who received their matriculation.

At the end, we include a list of Jewish teachers. It is clear that they comprised a very small percentage, for we only find 10 Jews among the 339 teachers that taught during the 70 years of the existence of the school! The majority of the Jewish students came from the cities of Galicia, or after the First World War from Poland, and were not local.


The List of Graduates who Took their Matriculation Examinations from 1887/8 – 1939

1887/8: 1. Moshe Bodenheimer 2. Zelig Pessel 3. Yacov Golomb 4. Markus Spindler – 14.8% out of 21.

1888/9: 1. Berel Herzig 2. Shmuel Nebenzahl 3. Yehoshua Szefer – 12.9% out of 23.

1889/90: 1. – – – – – – – – – – – – (18).

1890/91: 1. Yechezkel Schmindling 2. Eliahu Szkrumida 3. Bernard Fristendig 4. Hirsch Zagenhauser – 11.6% out of 31.

1891/2: 1. Yehoshua Ginzberg 2. Yosef Meng (?) 3. Shlomo Romer – 11.5% out of 26.

1892/3: 1. Yosef Herzig – 6.6% out of 15.

1893/4: 1. – – – – – – – – – – – – (10).

1894/5: 1. Isaac Eisner 2. Yosef Loeffel 3. Moshe Schaeffer – 18.75% out of 16.

1895/6: 1. Maximilian Babat (?) 2. Leon Drohobycz 3. Sender Karp – 11% out of 29.

1896/7: 1. Avraham Adelsberg 2. Nachum Aszkenazy 3. Herman Atlas 4. Yitzchak Pojer 5. Yosef Filenbaum 6. Mauritz Schmindling – 19.36% out of 31.

1897/8: 1. Ephraim Alexanderwicz 2. Leib Anderman 3. Nessandel Bernfeld 4. Shmuel Herzig 5. David Horowitz 6. Eliahu Dines – 14.63% out of 41.

1898/9: 1. Adolf Birnbaum 2. Eliahu Eisner 3. Heinrik Greenhaut 4. Isadore Lindenbaum

[Page 79]
5. Shimon Schaeffer 6. Avraham Zajler 7. Michael Zwangheim – 28% out of 25.
1899/1900: 1. Wilhelm Alexanderwicz 2. Shaul Anderman 3. Shimon Aszkenazy 4. Moshe Geller 5. Yosef Gelber 6. David Hojls 7. Chaim Sztern 8. Fischel Weiner – 22.9% out of 35.

1900/01: 1. Oskar Frieser 2. Wulf Hirschfeld 3. Rudolf Limbarch 4. Wilhelm Rapof 5. Avraham Sapir 6. Shmuel Schmelkes 7. Yacov Wojask (?) – 18.4% out of 38.

1901/2: 1. Heinrich Beer 2. Yacov Mahler 3. Emanuel Polansky (?) 4. Hieronym Polansky (?) 5. Juliusz Rappaport 6. Aharon Weissenberg – 11.5% out of 52.

1902/3: 1. Eliahu Blumenfeld 2. Dawydowicz 3. Yosef Okort 4. Leon Frankel 5. Levi Freund 6. Ludwig Jos (?) 7. Leon Smolowicz 8. Yehuda Blon 9. Elias Beer 10. Markus Bonhart (?) 11. Jan Reichel (?) 12. Avraham Rosen – 18.8% out of 64.

1903/4: 1. Tovia Althajm 2. Eliahu Bonhard 3. Shmuel Breitler 4. Aharon Rappaport 5. Lazar Schildkraut 6. Michael Spajdel (?) – 15.8% out of 38.

1904/5: 1. Adam Hirschler 2. Rudolf Langenfeld (?) 3. Wolf Jung 4. Yacov Pasternak (?) – 8.7% out of 46.

1905/6: 1. Shaul Bonhard 2. Shmuel Tiszel (?) 3. Shmuel Goldschlag 4. Augustyn Jus (?) 5. Yosef Kranz 6. Yosef Rappaport 7. Wilhelm Korngold 8. Moshe Ribenfeld – 14.81% out of 54.

1907/8: 1. Heinrich Fink 2. Heinrich Goldhammer 3. Felix Hauptman 4. Avraham Heller 5. Tadeusz Wajntraub (?) 6. Mendel Wolowski (?) 7. Aharon Ande 8. Yacov Gold 9. Bernard Schildkraut 10. Aizish Sternberg – 25.69% out of 49.

1908/9: 1. Ephraim Einlager 2. Leon Kosowski (?) 3. Marian Nidentahl (?) 4. Alfred Reich 5. Edla Rothenberg 6. Karol Frieser (?) 7. Leib Hirszklow 8. Konstanty Jus (?) 9. Josef Newel 10. Joel Weiner 12. David Wimer – 14.62% out of 82.

1909/10: 1. Chana Kopler 2. Alexander Atlas 3. Adolf Czotiner (?) 4. Markus Forn (?) 5. Mindele Reis 6. Sigfreid Rosenfeld – 8.2% out of 75.

1910/11: 1. Sigmund Bitner 2. Aleksander Karsz 3. Yona Leib 4. Michael Wilk (?) 5. Yosef Bodenstein 6. Phillip Friedman 7. Shmuel Manesberg 8. Yosef Neus (?) 9. Shimon Schildkraut 10. Pyotri Szporn (?) – 14.08% out of 71.

1911/12: 1. Henryk Dekel 2. Gerhard Geltman 3. Herman Gruber 4. Ludwig Heilbruner (?) 5. Paula Klober 6. Avraham Ohrenstein 7. Henryk Riburg (?) – 14.29% out of 49.

1912/13: 1. Yisrael Greenspan 2. Michael Kranz (?) 3. Mordechai Tepper 4. Attilia Affendorf 5. David Bregman 6. Klement Roemer (?) 7. – Stanislaw Reis 12.8%

1913/14: 1. Franciczek Lewi 2. Maria Brandler 3. Yosef Weiner – 7.9% out of 38

1914/15: The gymnasium was closed due to the war.

[Page 80]
1915/16: 1. Ernestina Epstein 2. Izabeli Zys 3. Karol Weidell – 6.05% out of 33.

1916/17: 1. Freda Apel 2. Leopold Mozer – 8.33% out of 24.

1917/18: 1. Thaddeus Breit 2. Sarafina Pichman 3. Mariane Kister 4. David Kolber 5. Edward Kuper (?) 6. Kopel Lepel 7. Jadwiga Roemer 8. Tuni Roemer 9. Kazimierz Zys – 24.32% out of 37.

1918/19: 1. Vladislav Breit (?) Fredrich Eichel 3. Alexander Hamerman 4. Zofia Kister 5. Aharon Kuehl 6. David Sobel 7. Yosef Winter – 16.28% out of 43.

1919/20: 1. Henryk Apel 2. Stanislav Eichel 3. Franciszka Nebenzahl 4. Marian Schmid (?) 5. Meier Tieger – 18.7% out of 26.

1920/21: 1. Fani Dampf 2. Rudolf Grossman 3. Leopold Lepel 4. Edmund Mendel 5. Joachim Ohrenstein 6. Severin Romd 7. Karol Rappaport 8. Elias Tenenbaum 9. Alfred Terkel 10. Iziasz Wilner 11. Edward Zeler – 26.93% out of 38.

1921/22: 1. Maria Blumenfeld 2. Brita Bremer 3. Julius Eisenbach 4. Maria Hager 5. Wladyslaw Kondafer (?) 6. Rudolf Lepel 7. Yosef Reich 8. Azchiel Szenkel 9. Isadore Sobel 10. Hodes Szprung 11. Nechel Taneh – 22% out of 40.

1923/23: 1. Yaakov Apel 2. Julius Ohrenstein 3. Moshe Reis 4. Roza Zilber 5. Artur Turkel 6. Rudolf Weidell (?) – 21.43% out of 28.

1923/24: Sophia Dampf 2. Aharon Hirschfeld 3. Shimon Kimmel 4. Heinrich Nebenzahl 5. Alfred Unterricht – 25% out of 20.

1924/25: 1. Chaim Bergenbaum 2. Alvin Gelb (?) 3. Maximilian Gluckstern 4. Pepi Gluckstern 5. Hinda Kanner 6. BenZion Katz 7. Markus Katz 8. Yitzchok Kister 9. Ana Ohrenstein 10. Matilda Reis 11. Anna Zilber 12. Philip Sober (?) 13. Fani Soifrin (?) – 36.1% out of 36.

1925/26: 1. Yosef Bodner 2. Yitzchok Dorlich 3. Adam Guzik 4. Hirsch Halpern 5. David Scheinbach 6. Stanislaw Szenkopf 7. Mendel Bergenbaum 8. Miriam Feder 9. Hirsch Gorfinkel 10. Alexander Gross 11. Wanda Lepel 12. Yitzchok Mais 13. Rivka Schneck 14. Tadeusz Gozik 15. Hieronym Krobs 16. Isaac Lerner 17. Yisrael Leib 18. Stefania Poritz 19. Pincus Robinson 20. Chaya Schiff 21. Artur Traund 22. Julia Unterricht 23. Anthony Weidell – 27.71% out of 83.

1926/27: 1. Yechiel Kister 2. Leopold Ohrenstein 3. Devora Trachman 4. Klara Wilner 5. Leon Omnt 6. Antonina Furman (?) 7. Leib Reich 8. Jodwiga Roter (?) 9. Karolina Sufrin 10. Natan Wallach – 20.84% out of 48.

1927/1928: 1. Esther Amster 2. Sara Amster 3. Baruch Bildinger 4. Rivke Gurfein 5. Mina Gluckstern 6. Mina Goldmark 7. Natalia Ohrenstein 8. Markus Reich 9. Mina Rosenblatt 10. Regina Sztajnmec 11. Chaya Wilner 12. Kazimierz Eisenbach 13. Yisrael Halpern 14. Hirsch Jacobowicz 15. Moshe Katz 16. Yisrael Lembach 17. Yosef Mais 18. Mendel Osterring – 33.34% out of 54.

1928/29: 1. Emil Beer 2. Jan Eisenbach 3. Sara Fischel 4. Gitla Freudes 5. Yitzchok Halpern 6. Heinrich Poritz 7. Norbert Roemer 8. Bluma Reich 9. Pinchas Reich

[Page 81]
10. Yitzchak Schiff 11. Yudes Zilber 12. Chaya Spiro 13. Esther Weimer – 21.31% out of 61.
1929/30: 1. Hirsch Maier 2. Sigmund Poritz 3. Moshe Rosenblatt 4. Manla Wolf 5. Hela Amkraut 6. Sala Beer 7. Mina Gurfein 8. Arna Hass 9. Ana Klugman 10. Anna Osterring 11. Tarza Roker 12. Wikta Rozenkranc 13. Sigmund Schreiber 14. Yoelisch Treusser – 23.7% out of 59.

1930/31: 1. Yaakov Mais 2. Solomon Reich 3. Feige Amster 4. Hela Dym 5. Lodwicka Greenspan 6. Estera Jacobowicz 7. Yehuda Katz 8. Zagislaw Reichel 9. Olga Salomon (?) 10. Adam Szank 11. Heinrich Schudmak 12. Shmuel Sysman – 16.44% out of 73.

1931/32: 1. Wilhelm Beer (?) 2. Alfred Herzig 3. Edward Lindenberger 4. Sara Parnes 5. Leon Rozenbildher (?) 6. Ascher Rubenfeld 7. Tonka Jarmark 8. Herman Schachner 9. Feiga Taub 10. Alfred Ohrenstein 11. Solomon Osterring – 17.25% out of 78.

1933/34: 1. Solomon Kampf 2. Francescka Wachtel 3. Leizer Baron 4. Gershon Pipe 5. Yaacov Wachtel – 18.52% out of 51.

1934/35: 1. Moshe Graf 2. Yosef Abt – 4.4% out of 45.

1935/36: 1. David Lerner 2. David Schiff 3. Yacov Trachman – 6.25% out of 48.

1936/37: 1. Avraham Bartfeld 2. Avraham Gorfajn 3. Yitzchok Felder 4. Yacov Symon – 7.4% out of 54.

1937/38: 1. Estewan Kaszmer 2. Yitzchok Lazar 3. Yacov Gurfein 4. Simcha Witzner – 5.3% out of 75.

1938/39: 1. Zigmund Freudenheim 2. Avraham Laufer 3. Robert Ortner – 6.8% out of 44.


Jewish Teachers in the Sanok Gymnasiums Until 1939

1. Dr. Shmuel Andzhajm 2. Yosef Apel 3. Yaakov Gluckstern 4. Leon Wilkobosky 5. Regina Victor 6. Hili Gelb 7. Euginia Finsterbusz 8. Jerzy Siegel 9. Stefan Zydowski 10. Sofia Rozenbajger 11. Mark Polak.

[Page 82]

The “Komercium” school for Commerce and Accounting

by Chaya Reiser (Fennig) of Petach Tikva

Translated by Jerrold Landau

After he concluded his studies in the Advanced Academy of Commerce in Lvov, Arthur Ascher exerted efforts and organized the founding of this school with annual courses for Jewish youth of ages 15-25 and upward. At the beginning, this school was housed in the hall of the Merchants' Union of Sanok in the home of Feigele Weiner on Jagielonska Street. The teachers were Karl Weiner, Edelbert Scheinbach, Shimon Kimmel and Y. Scheinfeld.

General subjects were taught in this school aside from the primary subjects and those unique to this institution – accounting and commerce. All necessary efforts were made by the school leadership so that the students would acquire the maximal professional knowledge at the conclusion of their studies, and that they would leave the school with their diploma. We should point out that many of the graduates of Komercium utilized the knowledge that they acquired at the school as their primary profession in their future practical lives, as they obtained stable positions in various companies and commercial enterprises. Such graduates included Arye Wasserman at the Berber-Sobol machine business; Tzipporah Trattner and Uri Katz at Trachman's business; Yitzchok Fink and Shimon Firer at the office of Hauptman's business; Margolies and Finter at the commercial bank, and others.

The success of this school did not continue, due to its struggle for existence. Aside from the fact that it did not receive any communal or government support, a decree was issued for it to liquidate by the competition institution that was established by the gentile circles, which obviously received all the necessary assistance from the government. A regular school for commerce was established as an extension of the elementary school. It was set up in an appropriate building on Kosziuski Street. The principal of the school was Mr. Hanus and later Mr. Sandecki. They concerned themselves that this school would receive full rights, and that its level would indeed by high. Therefore, many of the students of this school were children of Jewish religious and nationalistic families.

Photo page 82: The General School of Commerce, 1928


Translator's Footnote

  1. The term 'dressing' refers to non-essential, brief interpretations, as opposed to critical interpretations covering the main body of the text. return

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