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[Page 214]

Chapter 10

Maskilim (Adherents of the
Enlightenment Movement) of Bialystok


[Page 231]

ח    H

A Quarrel Between a Maskil,
an Apikoyrus and a Pious Melamed

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

A picture of life gives us a history of a private quarrel that arose between a maskil, an apikoyrus and a zealous melamed. The quarrel was between the father of the present-day Dr. PERLSZTAJN, Avraham PERLSZTAJN, who was called Avrahaml Kvasnik (because he manufactured Petersburger Kvas [a fermented drink made from rye bread]) and a pious melamed of his brother-in-law PERL. The quarrel began in his brother-in-law's sukkah [structure built for use during Sukkos – the Feast of Tabernacles – in which a family eats its meals and may sleep]. The melamed reproached Avraham PERLSZTAJN for his heresy. [PERLSZTAJN] answered calmly. However, the melamed had offended the honor of his father, saying that his father also was an apikoyrus. Avraham PERLSZTAJN grabbed a bottle from the table at threw it and the melamed's head and wounded him.

There began a great commotion; the pious group was in a rage. In the morning because of this, Avraham Kvasnik was led to the Beis-Din [religious court] in the kehile-shtibl [one room religious community synagogue] in the synagogue courtyard. A large, explosive crowd, which shouted that the apikoyrus should be torn limb from limb, waited there for him. It smelled of deadly danger. At the last minute,

[Page 232]

the pharmacist, WILBUSZEWICZ, ran in with the police and with great effort PERLSZTAJN was freed from the enraged crowd.[21]


  1. See footnote 19. H. PERL also tells of this incident. Return

[Footnote 19 – appearing on page 230:
See the memoirs of Herman PERL in the Bialystoker Shtime [Bialystok Voice], New York, June 1924, no. 9. Herman PERL is a son of Shlomo-Dovid PERL, Avrahaml PERLSZTAJN's brother-in-law. As a 10-year old boy, he saw the scandal at the founding of the Choir Synagogue.
According to Dr. PERLSZTAJN, the Choir Synagogue first was in the private house of the well-known lawyer, Josef-Yehuda WAJSBERG in TIPERMAN's house opposite the city clock, and then it was in the first house of today's Artisan's school courtyard. Herman PERL describes the entire picture more correctly.]

Translator's Footnote

  1. Maskil – follower of the Enlightment; Apikoyrus – heretic, free-thinker or non-believer; melamed – religious teacher Return

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