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[Page 477]

The Left Poale Zion

by M. Menachovski

Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

Brisk D'Lita was one of the cities in which the Left Poale Zion (Workers of Zion) developed a strong following, where a branch was established in Brest already before W.W.1. In 1913 the Poale Zion headquarters in Krakow established the Brisk/Pinsk committee, of which I was a member. Important activists at that time were Chaim Taubensclag and Sara Bulkovstein, who was married to Israel Reichman (the leader of Poale Zion).

After W.W.1, the majority of members that had returned to Brest joined the Left Poale Zion after the split. These were the active members at that time: Reuven Pregel, Tzalke Minivetski, and myself. After that Shimon Itzbitzer, Avraham Shrickman, Alter Lustigman, Shimon Acroplanski, David Gittelman and Sarah Gittelman, joined us. There was also a strong youth movement that founded a workers kitchen (soup-kitchen) that became the center for the entire labor movement. The activities of all the Jewish worker's organizations took place there. Hundreds of workers received their hot meals there daily, in those hungry years with the entire town in ruins - many found a home there. The police disliked this soup kitchen and would conduct frequent raids and make numerous arrests. Reuven Pregel, the kitchen manager, was arrested and sent to Czestochowa for several years. Due to the police persecutions, as soon as the economic situation improved, the soup kitchen closed down.

The influence of the Left Poale Zion was also evident in the professional circles – they had control of the trade's employees, and they also had great influence over the sewing and tailoring professions, the metal workers and locksmiths, and all the building trades. The party was active in cultural affairs and the education of children.

They ran a free university with classes for adult with lectures on literature and cultural matters. The evening course attracted hundreds of young people. As the community re-established itself, the Left Poale Zion played an important role in life of the community. It's struggle against the orthodox religious movement was especially difficult.

The party's strength was visible in the political life of Brest – it ran candidates at every election for the Sejm (Polish Parliament). Thousands of supporters would show up at their election rallies and the Left Poale Zion would always get the most votes –they were especially strong in the municipal activities and the area of education.

The third Jewish primary school was part of the rebuilding network of Brest – the teaching was in Yiddish and Hebrew. The large teaching staff included the known activists: Dr. Israel Rubin, Katyn Maladovski, and others.

As soon as the city was somewhat re-established, the officials began to create school programs. The school was not only a teaching institution, but also included a children home - with the support of the Joint; the children received two meals daily. In 1919 the first school was founded with Yiddish as the teaching language through the efforts of the Poale Zion and the Bund. This school began in Topolowa 12 and grew strongly – it's students reached 500. The head of this school was David Shnider and myself. Due to internal conflicts this school did not last for long. The Bund and the Poale Zion had differing opinions on the contents of the curriculum and how it should be taught and after a year, the school was disbanded.

The second primary school was then formed in Zymuntowska 12. This was a light and warm haven for the children who mostly lived in dark cellars, and would run from one aid institution to another, until we obtained free meals, clothing and shoes for them. At this school there was also a home for children under the age of three, supervised by Esther Menachowski. Former pupils of this school have spread over many countries of the world – the United States, Argentina, Europe, the Soviet Union and Israel. The staff included Moshe Levine, Hannah Fisherman (teacher killed in the Holocaust), B. Shlevine (renowned Yiddish writer), Chaim Finkelstein, who was later director of a Yiddish school in Buenes Aires. This primary school struggled for survival due to lack of income, and legal impediments. The budget came from three sources - school fees, collection of donations, and educational taxes. This school existed solely due to the dedicated efforts of the teaching staff.

 

Jewish teachers and Officials 1920

1st (bottom) row R-L: B. Minivitski, Y. Gelerstein, Katya Molodowski,
Gelerstein, Malka Lys, ---, Eisenstein
2nd Row: S. Gershonboim, R. Shtrickman, ---, M. Lev, Dr. I. Rubin, ---,
L. Mular, S. Itzbitzer, and Fanaberia
3rd Row:,---, ---, Acroplanski, Buchstein, E. Menachowski, ---, and Gelerstein
4th Row: D. Shnider, Dr. Mastovlanski, ---, ---, ---, Distler, Distler

 

Teachers and Students of the Peretz School in 1922
Centre: Director David Shnider and Esther Menachowski

 

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