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[Page 447]

12 Topolowa Street

By T. Govkin

Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

Who of the Jews of Brest had not heard of the address of the Zionist center at 12 Topolowa , which later became I.L. Peretz Street? Jewish pride and efforts brought about the decision of the city council to name the street after the famous Jewish writer. Despite the name Topolowa St. the address became famous after the Jews returned to Brest after W.W.1. A square building with castle-like walls surrounded by taller buildings. In the beginning there were dozens of Jewish families without roofs over their heads living in the courtyard, because most of the city had been burnt and destroyed..The remainder of the buildings that the Russians had left standing were systematically and thoroughly destroyed by the Germans who removed the bricks from the walls and sent them into Germany.

The three-storey building always bustled with activity and children played on the stairs. One after the other the Zionist organizations and schools moved into the courtyard, until all the noise and tumult had driven the families out.

First came the Hebrew “Techiya” school with its teachers, Chinich, Bereszowski and Govkin, and its students who later became Zionist teachers. As soon as this school moved to larger premises on Bialystokski St., the organizations of Poale Zion, Zeirei Zion, and the Pioneers moved in. After they vacated the front rooms with its well-lit hall, the General Zionists occupied them with their youth branches.

Who did not occupy this building?

Zeirei Zion, Poale Zion, the Revisionists, El hamishmar, Et Livnot, Hahalutz,

Hahalutz Hamerkazi, Shomer Hatzair, Gordonia, Betar, Brit Hachayal, Keren Kayemet, and Keren Hayesod.

Who visited this building?

Itzchak Greenboim, the leader of Polish Zionism, Leon Levita, the chairman of the Zionist organization, Baruch Zuckerman, the chairman of Poale Zion, Aaron Propes, the Betar commander. Scholem Asch the writer was also a visitor to this building. The Betar members organized a celebratory reception for Zev Jabotinski there.

Some of the speeches that were held in the courtyard included,: Yosef Heftman, Moshe Laizerovitch from the “Heint” (son of the preacher and tailor Laizerovitch), A. Goldberg, the editor of the Heint newspaper, who was also a Brisker.

Avraham Levinson, the deputy mayor of Brest, whose speeches were unforgettable.

Thousands of Jewish schoolchildren would assemble there for Lag Baomer and march out of there to the city gardens with a band playing and waving blue and white flags.

In the courtyard there were scenes that reflected the hunger for aliyah to Israel. There were often fights and blows over the list for places to Israel. Jews from the Brest district would wait for days until the Zionist Organization met and allocated the certificates for aliyah to Israel for the whole region.

The great Zionist Prayer meeting, the only one in the city, was held there. They would meet on Sabbath and the Holydays – it was led by L.Y. Winnikoff, Zev Dov Begin, Zaretzki and other Zionist leaders. In the same courtyard, the Jews of Brest celebrated the establishment of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The orchestras of Hashomer Hatzair and Betar played all day and the street was illuminated.

Hundreds of youths and adults studied at the evening classes there which were conducted by Mordechai Yaffe.

Menachem Begin (the future leader of Israel) came to Topolowa 12, as did a series of Jewish writers such as I. Perlov. The headquarters of the Pioneer Movement for the whole of the Polessie and Wolyn districts was there. Generally, Topolowa 12 was not just a local Zionist center, but also the region's headquarters, and seethed with Zionist activities and Jewish life. This building will never be forgotten by the members of Zionist organizations of all streams – it was an integral part of their lives.


[Page 449]

Jewish Sport

By S. Rubin

Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

The Brest inhabitants that returned to the city after W.W.1 included school-age children who after a short time began to organize the communal life of the city. They formed a football club called the Jewish Sports Club – its founding members were:

Dr. Gotlieb, Shmuel Mullar, J. Stier, and others. This club had a positive influence on the city's community life and was popular. The following were the administrators of the club: City councillor Shimon Itzbitzer, Yoshe and Chaim Youngermen, David Shedrowitzki, and Furmanovitch. This board was responsible for broadening the activities of the club, and a group was formed with the aim of developing physical education amongst the youth. The original group was: Shlomo Klein, Moshe Sarver and the chairman was Shabtai Rubin.

From 1926-7 the activities of the Jewish Sports Club strengthened and spread widely. As well as the football club that became renowned over the entire Polessie district, an athletics club, a bike riding club and a baseball club sprang up. H. Malin headed the athletics club, and the bike riders distinguished themselves at local competitions.

A national football league was formed in 1924 by the Polish government. The Brest branch of this league conducted football matches. The Jewish Sports Club participated in this league competition. They distinguished themselves and were

popular amongst the Poles. For many years this Brest group was on top of the local (Polessie) league. Representatives of this group were the lawyer Politshanski and B. Kastrinski. The matches evoked much enthusiasm from both the youth and adults alike, who attended the games en masse.

The Jewish Sports Club played against Polish clubs such as the 82nd Division (Army team), and the 9th Division, both from the fortress, and the Tanks Division team –our group defeated these teams in competition and that led to much pride amongst the Jews. These victories evoked jealousy and bad feeling from the Poles and arguments and fights would break out at the matches. The Jewish supporters would protect their players as heroes. They would leave the football ground together as a group to avoid attacks from the Poles. Outstanding players were – Bushmitz, Yoshe Youngerman, Shmuel Gelman, Moshinski, Ulman, Israel Stir, and others.

There were also other football clubs in Brest – Hapoel, Nordia, Stern and a group from the Bund. All these clubs were from opposing political movements and streams, but without exception they united in the common goal of sport and co- existed in friendly relations.

At the annual general meetings of these clubs, the question was raised as whether to join the Maccabi World Union, but no decision was reached.

The interest in sport grew, especially when in 1931, the famous Hakoah club came from Vienna to play against the Jewish Sports Club in Brest. Jews came from all the corners of Polessie to see this match. The participation of these two Jewish clubs caused much enthusiasm and pride. The Jewish Sports Club also organized a choir and a winter sports group.

At the annual general meeting in1933 it was decided to join the Maccabi world Union, and the club adopted the name Maccabi Jewish Sports Club Brest. The chairman was the pharmacist S. Grynberg and later Janovski.

The club preserved it's non-partisan character but it had a Zionist influence and many of it's members later became active in sports movements in Israel.

I will never forget those comrades who perished, amongst them Israel Stir, who personified the spirit of Jewish sport in Brest, and was one of the founders of the Jewish Sports Club.

The Hapoel Sports Club 1934

 

The Revisionist Sports Club 'Nordia'

 

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