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[Page 66]

Culture and Education

 

The Gardening School

by A. Buchman

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The gardening farm in Czenstochow arose in connection with the trend toward productivity, which was felt more strongly in Poland on the threshold of the 20th century. The first to implement the plan were the well-known community workers, Leopold Werde, Henrik Markusfeld, Grosman and Stanislaw Herc. They bought a piece of land of approximately 20 acres in 1902 for this purpose.

The gardening farm began with ten students in total and at first was satisfied with flowering plants.

A gardening teacher was hired from Germany. The first students were from Czenstochow and its surroundings, aged 12 to 14. The budget was put together from voluntary contributions and subsidies from the Jewish community.

No particular education or qualifications were demanded of the students, except for physical fitness. The manager was a religious Jew and the students had to observe all religious, Jewish laws, such as praying, saying blessings and so on.

The students who did not see any prospects for themselves after two or three years of study in such a school began to demand more secular education and further progress in the trade. But the financial resources of the farm were limited – most of the students dispersed. Only four people remained.

This lasted until 1904. Then the I.K.A. [Jewish Colonization Association] became interested in the farm, designated a subsidy and engaged the well-known agronomist, Borukh Sznajerzon, who turned the Czenstochow gardening farm into one of the most blossoming institutions in Poland.

The farm in Czenstochow began to have a good reputation across the entire country. The number of students rose to 30. There they received free: food, a place to live, clothing and they wore special uniforms.

The students who were accepted had to know one of the languages: Polish or Russian and a certain amount of arithmetic. The students received further education in the school from a separate teacher. Sznajerzon, the director, himself taught all special gardening trade subjects: botany, chemistry, physics, zoology and so on. A Polish gardener led the practical work on the farm. All of the accommodations that were needed on the farm, such as the hotbed boxes, beehives and tools were built and created by the students themselves. A library in various languages about everything that had a connection with gardening was also organized on the farm.

Greenhouses were organized. Warm hotbed windows. Plants from various different areas were raised: tropical and sub-tropical, as for example, oranges and figs.

In winter, cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, melons and beans grew in the greenhouses. Henrik Markusfeld bought a large field and donated it to the farm. Various grains were planted in the field.

A varied and large choice of local fruit trees wasplanted. Grafts were taken from them to cultivate more trees. The cultivated trees were sent in the tens of thousands across all of Russian Poland.

A botanical garden was accommodated with hundreds of plantings from various nations.

This all called for more than 6,000 rubles, which I.K.A. and the municipality gave. A flower shop was opened in Czenstochow in order to create a new source of income.

The farm became so well known with its practical knowledge in the world of planting that the city decided to create a park: the park in “Ostatni Grosz [district of Czenstochow].” Later, also the city park for the exhibition in 1911.

In 1906 an orchard of hundreds of trees and a rose garden were planted.

[Page 67]

Even a nursery for summer plantings. The farm's rozarnja [hot house for roses] made a strong impression among the Christian gardeners in Poland. There was a rose house of thousands of rose bushes of various sorts and blossoming at various times. The roses were sent to the flower shops in Poland and were also transported abroad.

In the month of January during the great frost, the first roses of the Jewish gardening farm appeared in Czenstochow. The cuttings lasted until the month of May when the roses from the open garden began.


General photograph of the farm

 

There also was a drying room for bulbs of daffodils, tulips, lilies and various other flowers.

In 1911, the Jewish gardening farm in Czenstochow took part in the world exhibition in Czenstochow and received one gold medal and 10 silver medals.

The non-Jewish gardeners were greatly displeased that the actual work on the farm was led by a Christian. Sznajerzon, the director, therefore, sent several of the students to learn about the special ideas of planting in order to be able to carry out the practical work.

However, everything began to go downhill when Sznajerzon, the director, left the farm in 1913. Other agronomists, Jews, came, but no one could compare with Director Sznajerzon – in regard to energy, idealism, knowledge and professionalism.

With the outbreak of the First World War, in 1914, many students dispersed. Those who remained worked further with the help of a small subsidy from the community.

The I.K.A. committed to its subsidy with the arrival of the director, Dubczinski. However, the farm then took on another character, more of a halutzish [offering preparation of pioneers for emigration to Eretz-Yisroel]. The main part was taken by agricultural education that was needed in Eretz-Yisroel. The pioneer work was carried out until the end of the First World War, when director Dubczinski left the farm, and his place was taken by the agronomist Feldsztajn. Ninety percent of the students who studied under his leadership left for Eretz-Yisroel.

Under his leadership the school for girls also was opened and girls came from all over Poland, many of them with a higher education, to learn the gardening trade in order to be able to emigrate to Eretz-Yisroel. They adapted well to the physical work in the garden, with the trees, flowers, hotbeds, and also in the cattle stall.

As a result, the prestige of the school began to increase with every Jew, chiefly among the nationalist element. It made a rare impression when young, healthy girls in their farm uniforms stood in the Czenstochow streets with shovels and gathered the manure and threw it in wagons which were driven away to the farm.


A group of students with the director of the farm

 

The Czenstochow city hall also began to take an interest in the farm. The farm even was supposed “to receive a gift” of certain rights through the Polish Education Ministry, but just then the agronomist, Feldsztajn, left for America and the entire situation at the farm changed.

The farm was taken over by Hashomer Hatzair [Youth Guard – socialist-Zionist youth movement]. Almost all of the trees were cut down. The graftings, the rose garden, hotbeds, decorative planting – all of this was annihilated

[Page 68]

and the terrain was changed to an agricultural one. Vegetables from the farm were sold in the Czenstochow market. Many male and female pioneers worked outside the farm, waiting for the opportunity to emigrate to Eretz-Yisroel.

After the farm was transferred to Hashomer Hatzair, the Jewish community refused to subsidize it. On the 2nd of December 1927, the Czenstochower Zeitung [Czenstochower Newspaper] published an article of alarm, demanding that the community provide for the farm under the leadership of Hashomer Hatzair.

During the time of its existence until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the Czenstochow farm graduated hundreds of male and female students, who were qualified as gardeners and agricultural workers.

Of the first students, many travelled all over the world: America, Australia, Argentina. But 80 percent of the male and female students are located in Eretz-Yisroel, some in kibbutzim [collective community], some owning their own farms and in commercial agriculture.

Whoever comes into contact with the male and female students from the gardening farm in Czenstochow in Eretz-Yisroel admires their work and activities.

 


[Page 68]

The Artisans School

by A. Gotlib

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The Czenstochower Artisans School was founded in 1898. Its original founder, Henrik Markusfeld, created it as a monument to immortalize the memory of his deceased parents, Adolf and Ernestine Markusfeld.


The graduates of the cabinetmakers' division in 1912 with H. Markusfeld,
Engineer Asorodobaj and Jarzembinski, above

 

The importance of the Artisans School can only be appreciated when one remembers that the Jewish artisan or crafts worker still stood at a lower cultural and communal level at that time. A trade went hand-in-hand with ignorance. An apprentice would be given [to an artisan] for several years and he had to do home-work for a long time, while learning the trade. A tailor and a shoemaker were given the title tailoring, shoemaking.

Right from the start, the Artisans School took on the task of uniting a craft with general education.

At first the Artisans School was a division of the Talmud Torah [religious school for poor boys] and was officially called: Jewish Artisans School at the Talmud Torah. It occupied the three-story building on Garncarska Street.

It included three divisions: 1) Mechanical locksmith division, which until then generally was not available for Jews; 2) Furniture making; 3) Wheelwrights. The director of the divisions were: Szrajber – master locksmith; Akrent – master carpenter. Jarzembinski (a Christian) – wheelwright. The arithmetic teacher was the Zalcman. We should also mention the shomer hasof [gate keeper], small Mordekhale.


The school's mechanical workshop

 

[Page 69]

At first, there were few candidates eager to enter the school. If I am not mistaken, at first only those students whose parents could pay 150 rubles for three years in advance were accepted. Later, students from the poorer strata of the Jewish population were also accepted and not only were they free from payment, but each of them received a subsidy from IKO [Jewish Colonization Organization] – 10 rubles every three months. Later it was reduced to the sum of seven and a half rubles. The students worked in workshops during the day and studied at the evening courses at night.

Among the students in the first three years were:

The brothers Avraham and Moshe Weksler, Shlomo Dzalaszinski, Shlomo Win, Chaim Win – all of these excelled in their professionalism.

The influx of students increased from year to year. Many young men from the houses of study entered the Artisans School. In the years 1904-1905, when the artisan and the working man organized and showed revolutionary and communal strength – children of more wealthy parents, as well as students from the middle school (gymnazie) began to enter the Artisans School.

In the course of time, the directors changed. Jebic took over the office of Director Szrajber. However, he was not successful with the students and he left the school. His place was taken by Gerwicman. Through his initiative the Artisans School began to give guild certificates. In 1912-1913 the director's office at the school was occupied by Engineer Asorodobaj. Under his leadership the Artisans School raised its level to a modern technical school. Studies were held with yearly exams and subsidies were designated for the more capable students to be able to study at a higher technical school.

The institution earned a reputation as a first class school and students began to storm it, not only from Czenstochow, but also from the surrounding cities. With the help of I.K.O., new machines were arranged for and the kerosene motors were changed to electrical.

In 1913 the expenses for the Artisans School reached 11,000 rubles. The income was: 1,500 rubles – from the Jewish community, 500 rubles - the Markusfeld brothers, IKO – 4,900 rubles, and 4,000 rubles from school payments and work orders.

In addition to the above-mentioned people, the school also employed: Oks (Russian, arithmetic and natural science). Awner (Polish and German), Perec Wilenberg (hand drawing), Wajsberg (Hebrew and Jewish history).

In 1913 Henrik and Josef Markusfeld, Engineer Ratner, Stanislaw Herc, Henig Frenkl, Dr. Batawja and director Asorodobaj belonged to the school committee.


A group of students with Dr. Josef Markusfeld
and personnel from the “farm.”

 

With the outbreak of the First World War, when Czenstochow was occupied by the Germans, the subsidy from the I.K.O., the main support for the school budget, ended. The workers could not pay the tuition money and did not continue their studies. Henrik Markusfeld, who refurbished and restored much of the machinery that was damaged during the fire in Malarnja, a short time before the war, again came to help the school. As a result, the Artisans School received the ability to pay the instructors, which lasted until the directors could put together a budget and restore the activities.

After the war, when emigration to Eretz-Yisroel began, and there was a demand from there of certain trade preparation – evening courses for the locksmith and carpentry trades, which were needed in Eretz-Yisroel, were opened at the Artisans School. Dozens of young people and adults received elementary trade education over the course of several months and with it there was the possibility for many immigrants to arrange for the appropriate work in Eretz-Yisroel.

[Page 70]

In the later years, when the well-known industrial law was given out by the Polish government


A group of students with the personnel from the
Artisans School in the school year, 1930

 

on the 15th of December 1929 (it was then called the guild edict) that brought in restrictions for artisans and was aimed against the Jewish artisans – with the cooperation of the artisans club, three year complement courses were opened, in which apprentices received a theoretical trade and elementary mastery that according to the law was necessary for the exams.

The Artisans School did not only train cadres of hundreds of intelligent Jewish artisans, but also created instructors and in general helped to elevate our artisanship to a higher level.

 

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