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[Page 60]

“Hamelitz”, 7 Elul 5658 No.180 (Aug. 25, 1898)

by Yitzchak Bonimovitch Chalpak

Collated by M. Tzinovitch

Translated from the Hebrew by Harvey Spitzer

Lubtch (Minsk District) - The voice of the moaning of the victims of the fire in our town is heard on high. Infants and babies are lying on the streets, as there is no place to gather them up and shelter them. They were left naked and lacking everything, for within a short time the flames engulfed the whole town which became a pile of burning wood. Parents could not evacuate their children and no one was able to save any of their belongings, not even for the slightest relief, and were it not for the neighboring towns which offered us their food right after the fire, we would now have, God forbid, perished from hunger.

We are therefore announcing our grief publicly. Perhaps people will awaken to the loud sound of our distress and help us to whatever extent possible. To our great sorrow, the synagogues and study halls which were built as citadels were burned down, so that there is not even a place to pour out our prayers before the merciful God. The bathhouse, too, was burned down and we don't have the wherewithal to rebuild them.

May they take pity on the poor and destitute and help the souls of the impoverished. Those who show mercy will themselves be shown mercy and will be blessed with wealth in their homes.


[Page 60]

A wise son-in-law…

By Gershon Jankelowitz

Translated from the Yiddish by Harvey Spitzer

There was a Jew in our town whose name was Velfke Minkes. Velfke had five sons and three daughters. When the Russo-Japanese War broke out, Velfke's son-in-law went to America. He wasn't there was very long and came back to Lubtch.

When people asked him why he had come back, he answered:

---- Columbus discovered America. Let him stay there! I want to live in my small town, Lubtch.


[Page 61]

The Hebrew School in Lubtch

By Yitzchak Dichter, of blessed memory

Translated from the Hebrew by Ann Belinsky

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Yitzchak Dichter

 

“Who is like Thy people Israel, one nation on the earth?”

A “scattered and dispersed people” among the nations and countries, denied a normal state of life for thousands of years, yet knew how to organize its internal life (material and spiritual), to build institutions for mutual help, lofty spiritual institutions that have maintained the existence of the nation for generations.

Our nation apparently represents a unique case in history in that the nation lives in such difficult conditions while remaining loyal to itself and does not assimilate among the nations.

I shall write not about the leaders of the people or about the educated, but about the simple people - the tailors, shoemakers, small merchants and the workers - who put their shoulder to the task out of desire and awareness, who saved from their most essential needs (and there were those who really saved from their meager portion of bread) in order to help the Jewish institutions: the Talmud Torah (religious school), the Yeshiva, Jewish hospital and orphanage, etc.

“Israel is no widower”, i.e. Jewry has still some resources. Despite the fact that we were dependent on the kindnesses of the ruler - who usually was hostile towards us - a Jew has a benevolent and watchful eye and an outstretched arm to help. (Heroic stories will be told of Jews who gave their souls in order to come to the aid of a distant, failing brother, to offer help in time of trouble, etc.) These institutions were like a continuation of the independent life of which we were deprived. Here, in the tradition of generations, we continued to observe the commandment of supporting one's fellowman “so that he may live among you”.

 

The Educational Institutions

The jewels in the crown of all the institutions that were built by the Jews in the Diaspora were the educational institutions. With its healthy sense, the nation felt that education of the young generation is the very soul and basis of the existence of the nation. A people that wants to maintain continuation of its existence must, first of all, see to educating the younger generation.

And, indeed, the people made sure that the new generation was educated. Without state permission, with no help from the government, they developed a wide chain of schools, from the “cheder” and Talmud Torah for children, up to the yeshivot [religious high schools] There was also a concern for the poor child lest he remain ignorant and illiterate, and if his parents could not afford to pay tuition, it was seen to it that he would learn in the Talmud Torah. Even when new winds began to blow in the world and in the Jewish community, the people did not change its ways or its learning, and “just as the lizard withdraws into its scales in order to protect itself from harm, so too the Jewish people withdraws completely within itself, deriving consolation, self courage, hope and security from the depths of its soul for the good days to follow, for the soon- to- come redemption.”

 

The “Tarbut” School

In the period between the two World Wars, Hebrew schools called “Tarbut” [Culture] arose in the Diaspora. The Balfour Declaration at the end of the First World War gave a new impetus to the rebuilding of Eretz-Yisrael. The people saw in this Declaration the beginning of the Redemption with respect to the Messianic Age. And thus they saw a need to prepare tools for the revival of the nation and, first and foremost, the revival of the Hebrew language. In most cities and towns, modern Hebrew schools were established, where the language of instruction was Hebrew, except for the language of the country. The establishment of the schools and their maintenance was, as known, a state function of the first order. Much money was required for suitable buildings, a budget for paying salaries, heating, cleaning services, etc. Here, without any compulsion, the Jewish people filled this governmental function out of recognition of the importance of the matter.

I cannot count all the difficulties that confronted the parents and teachers committees. How does one go about setting up schools where the needs are many and the ability to do so is little? I do not know of a school that was closed for lack of budget, but I do know many teachers who received a salary for 8 months per year and less, and even so did not quit their job: the lofty ideal of national education for the young generation throbbed in the hearts of parents and teachers alike, urging them to make sacrifices and superhuman efforts. With their meager strength, the simple people succeeded in establishing and maintaining educational institutions from which came out the pioneers, the brave and the implementers. Much still remains to be told about Jews such as R' Chaim-Asher Osherowsky, who worked day and night to maintain the Hebrew School in Lubtch, and about parents who saved from their scanty bread and sent their children to the Hebrew School, when just across the street was the Polish school which took in all the children for free.

 

The Hebrew Schools of the Lubtch Community

The Hebrew School in this town assumed the national-educational role of the first degree. It absorbed all the children of the town and took them out of the gloomy “cheders”. Lubtch, in fact, was the only town in my time where there was no “cheder”.

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Pupils of the Lubtch Public Primary School in 1925

 

The town's residents raised their hearts to this holy idea and sent their children to the Hebrew school exclusively. There were parents who were impoverished, yet they paid the tuition fees with honor. As was said above, all the children of the town, with no exception, learnt at the school, even the son of Mordechai-Baer, the beggar.

The parents committee tended to all the needs of the school. They wanted to give it the prestige of a school that pays its teachers a salary in order to invite the best teachers to teach there.

The aspiration to be innovative and modern attracted them, but they could not forgo religious studies and thus the method was “Hold on to this and don't withdraw your hand from that!” They invited graduates of teachers' seminars, but immediately stipulated they would also teach religious subjects. And they invited the honorable religious teacher in the town, Rabbi Yitchak Baksht, to teach Gemara (Talmud) in the sixth and seventh grades.

The standard of classes, as I assess it, was high. The teachers invested maximum effort, devotion and goodwill in teaching Hebrew. There were no suitable textbooks in Hebrew, however, so they translated from other languages, mainly from Polish. There were likewise no pedagogical journals or teaching aids. The teachers worked day and night to find suitable matter and translate it into Hebrew.

 

The School Library

Next to the school was a library with 1,000 books. It wasn't easy for us to accumulate enough money to erect the library. Persky, the teacher, was director of the library for many years. He did not offer his services for the sake of receiving a high salary and he worked with devotion and strictness.

The students exchanged books twice a week and the library was busy with children after school hours as well. It gladdened the heart to see them sharing the lists of books they had read, how they recommended to each other a good book. I loved to go to the school at these hours to listen to their ideas. I cannot forget these holy moments.

 

The Newspaper on the Wall

Every two weeks a newspaper appeared on the wall at the school. The newspaper played an educational-pedagogical role: to teach the child to read, to know what was going on in his environs, at school, in town and in the world and mainly in Eretz-Israel, and to develop expression in writing.

The newspaper was managed with responsibility, consistency and with much talent by the teacher, Yaakov Shmulovitz. The richest section was about the events in Eretz-Yisrael, which was the essence of our lives. Children always stood close and with fascination next to this section. It was possible to read in their eyes the happiness on every achievement in Israel and the deep sadness with every failure or tragedy.

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The editorial board of the “Tarbut” School newspaper:
Sitting from right to left: Golda Sonnenzon, Berel Solodocha, Shimon Yankelevitz, Esther Levin, Rachel Shlimonovitz, Yitzchak (Itsche) Payvoshvitz, Rita Aharonovski, Gittel Movshovitz.
Teachers standing: Alter Shmulovitch and Haim Persky

 

Work of the Keren-Kayemet ( Jewish National Fund) in the School

The work of the Keren-Kayemet in the school was directed with great enthusiasm, devotion and inspiration by the teacher, Chana Tzin-Dichter. The Keren-Kayemet served as a cornerstone for national education. The value of the land to the people and the ideas that the land would not be sold permanently found an echo of trust in the hearts of the pupils. Every new acquisition in Eretz-Israel was enthusiastically received and increased donations. In every class there was a JNF Corner and the Blue Box stood in its centre. Every good deed was marked by a donation: a good mark - a donation; finishing a book - a donation; an event in the child's life such as a birthday - a donation; bar-mitzvah - a donation; birth of a brother or sister - a donation, etc. I would like to tell you of a special event which indicates the spirit that beat in the children's hearts:

One of the pupils at the school was a boy named Hillel-Yaakov or, as he was called, Hillel-Yankel, the son of Mordechai Baer. He was a child without a mother, and his father was a beggar who would only return home twice a year, for Passover and the High Holy Days. Residents of the town looked after the child: as was customary in those days, the boy would eat “yamim” (days) - every day at a different home. One of the women would look after him: where he would sleep and eat, making sure he was bathed and that his clothes washed and mended. The fact that he could never donate to the Keren Kayemet bothered the little boy, and when the children went up to give their donations one by one, Hillel-Yankel would remain sitting ashamed in his seat. The teacher, who felt his sorrow, offered him a loan of several “prutot” so that he could also donate, but Hillel-Yankel didn't agree. “What's the big deal?”, he said. “It's your money”. One Friday, Hillel-Yankel came to class with shining eyes. “I, too, have a contribution to the Keren-Kayemet today. I'm donating too.” When the teacher asked him where he got the money from, he refused to disclose. During the last lesson, when the children went out to give their donations, the teacher invited him to be the first to go. With an uplifted head, he went out and donated all his property, 5 “grush“, and all the class applauded him, which delighted the child. Afterwards, the story came out: the woman at whose place he ate on Fridays was busy the same morning and had given him 5 “grush” to buy a bread roll. The boy, however, preferred to conquer his hunger and give a donation to the KK”L. The story of Hillel-Yankel and his donation reached the ears of the writer Tzvi Liberman from Nahalal, who was an emissary to Poland at that time, and he perpetuated the story in his book, “The Young Planter”. We received two books from the author, and the teacher, Chana, gathered the children from several classes, including Hillel-Yankel, and read them the story. The child wept from pleasure.

The teacher would arrange parties at Rosh-Chodesh [the beginning of every Hebrew month] where information was passed about the income and activities of the Keren Kayemet. They would hear news about Eretz-Israel, sing songs, recite and dance. These parties conveyed to the children the atmosphere in Eretz-Israel, for which they worked to the best of their extent.

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Children of the “Tarbut” School in 1929, next to the White Synagogue

 

Festivals and Celebrations at the School

Celebrations played a big part in the work of the school. Here we tried to discover the talents of the children in the area of the arts: in song, dance and theatre. The “chug” [club] was run by the teacher, Bonia Petochovsky, a modest, quiet, gentle and shy teacher. She would spend hours with the children at the school, after they had finished their studies. She always managed to find new talents. The fame of the school shows spread throughout the town and beyond. The parents of the children and the rest of the inhabitants came in throngs to the school shows. The show was the subject of conversation for a long time. The teacher instilled courage, made wings grow and planted ambitions of progress in the hearts of the children. All the teaching staff and the parents committee helped towards assuring the success of the show. There was much excitement in the school and in the homes as the time approached: they prepared scenery, sewed costumes, set up a stage, etc. As in all our work, we tried to put emphasis on an Eretz-Israel subject in all our celebrations. To this day, I remember the celebration on the subject of “Drying the Swamps in the Jezreel Valley”. Before my eyes stands the special, original scenery that the teacher, Yaakov Shmulovitz, had prepared, and the costumes of frogs in the swamp.

On Polish national holidays, our school appeared together with the Polish school, and we were always better. The headmaster of the Polish school once asked me, “What is the reason that everything goes so well with you?” If only the headmaster knew how much work, and especially love and goodwill, the teacher invested in every performance, he would have understood the reason for the success.

 

The Clubhouse

We tried to find a place where the children could spend their leisure time in a cultural way. We decided to open a clubhouse by the school.

The teacher, Toni Tepper, was in charge of the clubhouse. She was diligent, responsible and well versed in handicrafts. The club was open three days a week and included a games room, a reading room, and a handicrafts room. In the games room there were various games such as drafts, chess, a ping-pong (table tennis) table, etc. In the reading room were books and children's newspapers. In the handicrafts room (mainly for girls) were various crafts. One cannot describe the happiness of the children coming to the clubhouse, which was an innovation in those days.

It was pleasant to come to the clubhouse in the evenings to observe and see how willingly and gladly the children played, worked and read there. We felt that we had removed the children from boredom to a life of creativity, and we saw the thanks and appreciation in their eyes.

 

The Influence of the School on the Life of the Jews in the Town

The school was the only ray of light in all the life in the town, and its influence was great in every area: in the cultural life, in the Zionistic activity, in the help that it gave to the youth movements, etc. Frequently, we would call for parents' and lecturers' meetings on various subjects. The assemblies usually took place on Friday (Sabbath) evenings and the school hall was always full.

The school also gave help to the Zionist movement and the Funds. The teacher, Persky, was for many years the representative of the Keren Kayemet in the town and made sure that a Blue-Box was present in every Jewish home. One of the teachers was in charge of the Keren Hayesod [Founding Fund] matters. He would sign up people with means to purchase certificates of the Fund, and when the time came for them to be paid, he tried to collect the money. In fact, he was always busy with this.

A lot of our time was devoted to the youth organizations. The teacher, Yaakov Shmulovitz, was most active in this sphere. We helped them with advice, guidance and especially with teaching the Hebrew language. Naturally, we did this without expecting any recompense.

 

Enlarging the School Building

This glorious chapter in the history of the Lubtch school, is unique, with no parallel in any of the history of the chain of “Tarbut” schools in Poland.

As the school was too small to accommodate all the children of the town, it was necessary to build an addition of at least two more rooms. The problem was in obtaining the necessary financing for the building, for it was hard enough just managing to maintain the school. Many meetings and consultations took place until we finally decided to ask the parents of the pupils for an additional payment towards the building costs. It was very difficult for us to collect the money, not because the parents didn't want to pay, but for lack of means. We held parents' meeting and explained the situation. They did understand but weren't able to make the payments. The parents' committee was drawn into action. They went from house to house collecting the “debt”. After the amount of money that was possible was collected, we saw that it wasn't enough. Again we held meetings, and again we consulted, but there was no money. One of those days, I met with the chairman of the parents' committee, Mr.Chaim-Asher Osherovsky, and his eyes were shining: “I got some advice”, he said. “Tonight we must hold a parents' meeting”. At the meeting, R' Chaim-Asher said that this house doesn't give him rest, we must build no matter what! “This matter concerns the very soul of our children. If the child does not find a place with us, he will be forced to attend the Polish school, which would mean - forced conversion.” He suggested that a working tax be imposed on the parents and that every household be obligated to contribute three working days to building the house. His suggestion was accepted and unanimously received. We bought building materials and hired and hired a professional builder from the money we had collected. All the work was done by the parents in turn.

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Volunteers building the “Tarbut” School

 

I stood in the school room. Looking outside, I saw Jews with beards and sidelocks, amongst them elderly people coming during the day, lifting up boards, pushing wheelbarrows of soil to fill the foundations of the building. I thought to myself: what compels these people to respond to the parents' committee decision? What compels them to donate from their money and to exert themselves? They were carrying out the internal, spiritual command to build a school, without which their children were likely to assimilate and become impure.

Almost the whole town came for the dedication. It is hard to describe the happiness and the self-satisfaction of their accomplishment. The new rooms, where the celebration took place, were bright and light. Everyone came in high spirits and congratulated each other. The chairman of the parents' committee, Mr. Chaim-Asher Osherovsky, could not speak from emotion. He read with an emotional voice choked with tears: “Blessed art Thou our Lord, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season.” And the audience answered in a loud voice: “Amen!”

I gave a welcoming speech that was actually a hymn of praise to the simple working Jewish person who had left his work and livelihood and came to give a hand in building the school. After the celebration, the Chairman invited the audience to pray saying: “Come fellow Jews, let us go to the synagogue and pray, to give thanks to G-d that we were privileged to carry out this great mitzvah.”

I never again saw a public celebration as joyful as this. I was fortunate to witness it and fortunate that I was privileged to tell the story of a Hebrew school in the Polish Diaspora.

A week after the dedication, a committee was set up in charge of the school house whose job was to take care of the building. This was a public primary school in the fullest sense of the word, a school that the people themselves had built with their own hands. I am sorry that I didn't photograph this occasion. It would be wonderful to see a photo where Yitzchak, the chimney sweeper, and others are working, dragging beams, from morning to evening, and building a Hebrew school in the Polish dispersion.

 

The Parents' Committee

I would like to mention with honor and admiration the names of members of the parents' committee who untiringly bore the yoke of building and maintaining the school for many years:

Mr. Chaim-Asher Osherovsky, chairman of the committee
Mr. Yisrael Solodocha
Mr. Chaim-Leib Levine
Mr. Chaim Bruk
Mr. Moshe Shlimovitz
Mr. Abraham-Haim Ostshinsky
Mr. David Davidovitz
Mr. Vilner
These dear people devoted their time and energy to building a school in our town. They were often prevented from resting in order to set the school on a firm foundation. I mention, with a shaking voice and with acknowledgement, their holy names, bow my head and pray for the elevation of their pure souls to eternal bliss.

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A group of teachers of the “Tarbut” School, 1929
From right to left: Chaim Persky, Leah Oshrovsky, Chaim Bruk, Chuma, Alter Shmulevitch Goldshmid

 

Teachers of the School who Perished in the Holocaust

With sadness and sorrow, with honor and admiration, I mention the names of the teachers of the school in Lubtch who perished in the Holocaust with all the House of Israel:

Shmulovitch, Yaakov
Petokovski, Boniah
Persky, Chaim
Sonenzon, Shalom
Rozenblum

Dear teachers of Israel, trustees of the House of Israel,

How bitter is my fate that I have to mention your names in the Memorial Book! For you were my loyal partners in your concern for educating the young generation. You invested physical exertion, thoughts and goodwill in your work. You lit the light of Israel in the hearts of many. You were like the pillar of fire which lit the way of the People of Israel in the Diaspora. You educated a generation aspiring to freedom and self-determination, a generation of realizers of the Zionist dream, of brave and daring Jews.

But your toil was not in vain, your dream became a reality: the land was liberated from the yoke of foreign domination. The people returned to their homeland from all corners of the Diaspora. How sad is the heart that you did not succeed in seeing it. I mention your dear names together with the other Jews of Lubtch who perished in the Holocaust, for whom you were loyal partners in their lives. May the Guardian of Israel bind your pure souls with the souls of the educators of the generations who sacrificed their lives to educate the people and to continue its existence!

 

About the Pupils of the Lubtch School

“Such a revenge, the retribution of the spilled blood of a child

Satan has yet to create -

And the blood will curse the depths!” (Chaim N. Bialik)

It is accepted that there are bereaved parents, that there are bereaved women, but no one ever thought that the most bereaved of all would be the few Hebrew teachers that survived. For we brought up, nurtured, and educated a generation for work and creativity, to love one's fellowman and social justice.

Since the Holocaust, there has been no joy in my heart. The world is covered in gloom. “Darkness and no light in it…”, for what is the sense of life for a Hebrew teacher whose pupils are no longer? When I recall those days when the school was joyful with the voices of children; when I remember the corner we created in a strange and hostile environment, a corner of holiness and radiance where are dear children absorbed Torah and Judaism, love of man, equality, righteousness and truth. When I recall the atmosphere of the school, the “Rosh Hodesh” celebrations, the shining eyes of those who won the Keren Kayemet flag for a month, it is hard to get used to the idea that all this was uprooted, cruelly and with satanic thoroughness.

A million children, Children of Israel, were murdered in the Holocaust. But for me, this is not a “number”, but living children, happy and sprightly, learning and mischievous. Before my eyes stand: Benyamin Levine, Esther Levine, Solodocha, Kresilov, Chaim-Leib Kalmonovitch, Shmuel Kalmonovitch, Osherovsky, Bruk and more…

Where are you? Where are you, my children?! Who plucked you so cruelly in the prime of your life? How many talents were lost with your deaths?! Avraham Kalmanovitch, a very talented child, outstanding in every subject and especially in art. We hung many hopes on that child. Sara-Henia Boldo - a good girl, outstanding in her studies and in dance.

Your memory has not been erased from my heart, the heart of your teacher. I carried you in my heart throughout the days of the Holocaust. And when I was exiled to a distant country, I carried your blessed memory in my heart. When I finally won the right and arrived in Eretz Israel, you were before my eyes - always, and I will mourn you until my dying day.


[Pages 74-77]

The “Chorev” School In Lubtch

Translated from the Yiddish by Harvey Spitzer

“Lubtch has a strong “Tarbut” (“Culture”) school, one of the strongest in the region, and despite the sorrowful consequences of “Tarbut” education (in the area of religion), who will dare oppose it?

Several local, newly married rabbinic students, however, learned in Torah, from the “Beit Yosef” Yeshiva (of the Novogrudek type) are setting up a “Chorev” school and are appealing in the village to Rabbi Shlomo Podolski, (affiliated with the Novogrudek yeshiva, and himself a leader). He comes right to the front, unafraid of any kind of attacks, persecutions and smear campaigns in the press, etc.

The result: With his brilliant talent, Rabbi Shlomo Podolksi organizes the “Chorev” School, which remains a model school for the surrounding towns and shows that nothing is impossible for work undertaken with devotion and self-sacrifice”.

“Dos Vort”, No. 618, Vilna, 28 Nissan, 5697 (1937)

 

A public religious school, the “Chorev” school, has been in existence in our village for the past two years. It is impossible to describe the amount of hard work and self-sacrifice that went into establishing this school. In general, creating a religious school in a place where there is a strong “Tarbut” (“Culture”) school is not one of the easiest things. There has been no end to the trouble, slander and scourges which the founders of the local “Chorev” school have had to endure from the “national culture bearers”. And, in fact, they themselves have been largely responsible for the founding of the “Chorev” school because of their unlimited insolence and license. Making a joke of everything which we hold sacred and dear, making derisive remarks even in front of children about the holy wise men of the Talmud and Great Men of Israel, which makes one shudder, hearing such mockery. Taking advantage of the opportunity that arose a few years ago when the head of the local rabbinic court, Rabbi Yitzchak Weiss, fell ill, they took over the town's “Talmud Torah” (religious school for young pupils) - which, until then, had been operating under Rabbi Weiss' supervision and had prepared pupils for the elementary yeshivot - and they turned it into a “Tarbut” school without the knowledge or consent of the parents, most of whom are decent and honest Jews. Once that happened, it was too late to do anything about it.

When their wild orgies against Jewish tradition had reached their limit, however, the town's people took a step closer to creating a “Chorev” school, which offers a sufficient measure of secular studies as well as, and especially, a spiritual education of Torah and faith. To that end, we extended a challenge to the popular speaker and zealot, Rabbi Shlomo Podolski who, with his brilliant lectures, succeeded in breaking down iron walls, with the result that a “Chorev” school was created to the joy of all the parents.

On the evening of the lighting of the fifth Chanukkah candle this year, a festive program took place at the “Chorev” school. Rabbi S. Zimon, opened the evening's program in the crowded auditorium, giving a report of the school's activities. His talk was rich in content and left a great impression. One of the younger pupils recited the blessings over the Chanukkah lights, sang, “Ha-narot halalu anu madlikin” and then several numbers were performed in Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish. A presentation of “Jacob and Esau” held the audience enraptured.

Rabbi S. Podolski closed the evening with a brilliant lecture, mentioning, inter alia, that if all Jews celebrate the miracle of Chanukah as a miracle which happened “in those times”, Lubtch also celebrates the miracle as happening “at this time”. Like the Maccabees, who found a small quantity of oil suitable for the lighting of the Menorah, we found a small number of children and with them we kindled the “light of Chanukkah”. We never imagined that our undertaking would last even one day, but “a miracle occurred” and it has lasted and will continue to last. At the end of his talk, the speaker appealed to the parents to save their children from the nails of “apostasy” while it is still not too late. The evening in general and the lecture in particular made a great impression on those present to the extent that a noticeable movement is presently underway involving parents - who until now were far from the “Chorev” ideal - taking their children out of the “Tarbut” school and placing them in “Chorev”.

On this occasion, we would like to express a cordial “well done!” to Rabbi S. Podolski for his devoted work on behalf of religious education in our village as well as to the important personages: Rabbi S. Zimon, Heshel Kivelevitch (president of “Chorev”), Reuven Paretzki and to all the officials, workers and benefactors of our “Chorev” school.

We should especially like to thank Rabbi Avraham Yisrael Miskin in Buenos Aires, Argentina and to all the other benefactors there for their generous donations for the benefit of our school.

“Dos Vort”, No. 636, Vilna, Friday, 3 Shvat, 5697 (1938).

 


[Pages 77-78]

A “Periodical” in Lubtch

Collected by M. Tzinovitch

Translated from Hebrew by Harvey Spitzer

“HaTzfira” from the year 5654 (1894), issue No. 18, in the column “A head whirling with ideas” announces the following interesting items:

“In the small town of Lubtch (Region of Minsk), some young people gathered together for the purpose of giving honor to education and to stimulate others of their age to learn the R.L (Russian language, M.Tz.) and to blow into their nostrils the breath of the spirit of enlightenment. They have begun by imitating a splendidly written periodical, and every week they prepare one issue in neat handwriting and they distribute the issues among friends and acquaintances in other small towns.”

The chief writer of the above-mentioned column, Mr. Naftali Neimnovitch, who was sent some of these issues, continues thus:

“Both issues from this forged “periodical”, which they've chosen to call “Pottery”, were a joke to me. Within its pages can be found sorts of articles, sorts of poems, sorts of feuilletons, sorts of questions, and sorts of riddles. The intention itself is not bad, for “when scholars (authors) vie, wisdom will increase” and everyone in the young generation is stimulated in this way to learn and write, but the trouble is that the dwarf editors are still “eating boser” [still lack experience], have a poor knowledge of the Hebrew language, and the rules of grammar are unfamiliar to them. And therefore, instead of doing good, they are actually harming their contemporaries and it is hard to correct an error. Look, they call their periodical “Pottery” because it is like a broken clay vessel…. and he ends his article with these words: “Why are you young people in a hurry? Why will you envy Jewish writers while you yourselves didn't work hard at it in your youth as we did, and neither did you read nor change? First, “kill” yourselves in the tents of Torah [learning], seek Torah and wisdom, acquire knowledge of the world and its inhabitants, raise yourselves slowly to the heights of praise. You will then succeed in becoming useful people to your nation and country. And then, when you grow up and become old and life is good to you, you will exclaim joyfully, “Happy are we that our youth has not shamed our old age…”

 


[Page 78]

After The Event…

By Hilel Krosnitz

Translated from the Yiddish by Harvey Spitzer

The last rabbi of Lubtch - may his days in Paradise be bright! - was accustomed to mathematically calculating the amount of water in the “mikve” [ritual bath] and only when he confirmed that everything was properly done according to Jewish law and religion, would the “mikve” attendant let the women go in.

It had to happen, however, that Satan caused the rabbi to make a mistake in arithmetic - it shouldn't have happened, but it did happen - and the rabbi confirmed that the “mikve” was - “kasher” [suitable for use].

Later that evening when the rabbi was at last free from adjudicating a case of Torah law and had gone over his calculations regarding the amount of water in the “mikve”, that he discovered his error - it shouldn't happen to us! - that the “mikve” was unfit for use!

The rabbi was not lazy and immediately went to the “mikve” attendant, from whom he took the list of women who had immersed in the ritual bath that evening, and he then left to make the announcement. He would go to a home, knock on the window and announce:

“The “mikve” is unfit for use. You mustn't!!” He said what he had to say and went away.

He also went to Mashke Berezinsky's window, knocked on it and announced the news.

Mashke Berezinsky's answer was not long in coming:

“Rabbi, too late. It's already after the event!”

 

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