Private Beginner Schools for Girls
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
The Private School of Sh. FAJNZILBER
Sh. FAJNZILBER's school was founded during the Russian regime in 1907 and was well known in the city. The school is located at Zamenhofa 14. After the war it was transformed from Russian to Polish. It possesses well-qualified teachers. There were times when it had up to 160 students; today, because of the competition, it and a FROEBEL school have only 90 female students.* Polish, Hebrew, French, drawing, singing and gymnastics are taught at the school. The language of instruction is Polish. After graduating from the school, the students enter the third class of the gymnazye [secondary school]. The school is located in very comfortable, suitable premises. The students are educated in a Zionist-national spirit. The Hebrew courses in the school were highly regarded.
When I visited the school I attended a Hebrew lecture in the 5th-6th
*[Translator's note: Friedrich FROEBEL was a German educator whose pedagogical ideas led to the creation of kindergarten education.]
class. The students' knowledge of Hebrew in speaking, telling stories and presenting papers on Hebrew subjects was excellent, no less than the Tarbut [secular Hebrew-language schools] school in a comparable class. Speaking with the students I learned that they are supporters of Zionism and devotees of the Hebrew language.
Kh. BOGDANOWSKI's Private Girls School
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
The second private school for girls with the same program was founded in the same year, 1907. Mr. BOGDANOWSKI's school also was well known in the Jewish community before the war, but it developed even more during recent years. The owner, who is a young, energetic man, in addition to being childless, devoted all his energy to improving the school and perfecting it. On its 25th anniversary, April 1923, the school moved to its current new, more comfortable, more appropriate apartment of 10 rooms on Sienkiewicza Street at the corner of Yidn [Jews] Street. It expanded the program of study to the level of a progymnazye [preparatory school]. Hebrew is taught there to a satisfactory degree by the owner himself and by a trained female Hebrew teacher. The students speak rapid Hebrew: they tell stories, present papers about Tanakh [Hebrew Bible] and anthologies well in Hebrew. They are Zionists and Hebraists. I had great pleasure conversing with them in Hebrew and hearing of their devotion to Hebrew and to Jewry.
L. The Jewish-Polish Private Schools
The German-Jewish and Later the Polish-Jewish Gymnazye of Dr. Sh. GUTMAN
All of the Russian middle schools were closed when the Germans occupied Bialystok. The German regime did not care about the education of the older young people in the middle schools. This was done by two private people. Dr. Sh. GUTMAN, an active member of Hoveve Sefat Ever [Society of Lovers of the Hebrew Language], founded a Jewish-German middle school on the 25th of October 1915 with German as the language of instruction and with a program of Hebrew, Jewish history and literature. The gymnazye was in the building of CHWOLES' former girls gymnazye. Simultaneously,
a Christian-German middle school opened under the leadership of Pastor WILDE (former German teacher in the Business School). From the beginning the Jews went to him as an authentic German and former German teacher from a Bialystok middle school. However, little by little, Dr. GUTMAN's gymnazye competed with its better teaching force, so that Dr. GUTMAN's gymnazye, which began its first year of the occupation with 240 male and female students, had approximately 640 male and female students during the last year of the occupation (1918).
The German regime gave great approval to the private gymnazye, perhaps because the school had the kind of Jewish-German trade teachers such as Dr. Wilheim LEWI, Dr. DEUTSCHLENDER, Dr. BEZING and others. The regime gave it the same rights as the Christian-German gymnazye. It is worth mentioning that the German regime attempted to train the teachers, organized special courses, lectures, reports and the like for them.
The teaching methods in the gymnazye were the same as in the German middle schools in Prussia. The gymnazye also adopted the Prussian regulations with stricter discipline including physical punishment. The teaching itself would take place only from a book, without the help of clear methods and experimental work.
Not only the civilians from the German regime, such as the city captain, but also the representatives of the highest military regime from the Essen district would come to Bialystok to all of the celebrations. The chorale's singing and the performances under the direction of the now-deceased director Yakov BERMAN would make a satisfactory impression on them.
The situation changed with the withdrawal of the Germans and the entry of the Polish regime. Teaching in Polish was brought in immediately. The Messrs. BERCH and SZKOLNIK were invited as teachers of Hebrew language, literature and Jewish history. The gymnazye received a more national character. Attention was attached to the instruction of Hebrew and Israeli customs. However, the hours of instruction for Hebrew were not enough. Little by little, the gymnazye became like a Polish-Jewish gymnazye.
When Mrs. CHWOLES, the owner of the gymnazye premises, returned, she moved the gymnazye to the building of the former Aleksandow's gymnazye (Palacowa 2).
The school now possesses government rights and it has had nine graduates with certificates providing entry to a university with a general number of 133 graduating male and female students. Many of them already have finished their higher education in
the country and abroad and have become doctors, jurists, teachers and the like. Several young educated young people came out of the gymnazye.
The gymnazye distinguishes itself with its national-Zionist spirit. Hebrew is studied there to a greater degree than in other Jewish-Polish gymnazyes. The Jewish middle class knows it very well. It possesses all of the necessary tools. It has good teaching personnel. Two hundred twenty-five students studied there during the school year 1935-36, 125 male students and 100 female students. Hebrew is studied there for three to six hours a week. They also study Tanakh [Bible] in Hebrew (these are the official religion hours) as well as Jewish history for two hours a week.
D. DRUSKIN's Gymnazye
This eight class coeducational gymnazye at Szlichecka 4 was founded by the former teacher's institute student, D. DRUSKIN. He had a progymnazye under the Russian regime.
The school was not active during the occupation. The building was used by the occupying military. When Poland took over the city, D. DRUSKIN organized a Jewish-Polish gymnazye. From the beginning it was recognized by the Polish regime as having full rights; it received full rights as a government school, category one, in 1931-1932. This gymnazye was the first [to achieve this] in the entire Bialystok province. This government recognition furnished it with a larger number of students, mainly from the richer and well-to-do class. Its tuition also is higher. It has produced more graduates. Everything is offered [at the school] with a good 20-person facility. Very little attention is given to religious subjects and Hebrew. Hebrew is taught in smaller classes for a few hours a week. TILEMAN, the director, told me that there are plans to increase Hebrew study and to hire a trained teacher. During the 1935-36 school year there were 320 students 220 girls, 100 boys. The smaller number of male students than female students is the result of not giving attention to the Jewish religion and Hebrew.
The ZELIGMAN, LEBENHAFT and DERECZINSKI Gymnazye
This gymnazye is actually not Jewish-Polish but a completely Polish gymnazye in which Jews make up only 25 percent of its students, but its owners are Jewish. The gymnazye was founded in 1919 by a
mixed commission of Jews and Christians and was located in the building of the former Business School and has two divisions, one humanist and the other business. There are 16 classes all together. In order to provide the opportunity finish degree courses for the number of young people who had then returned from Russia, the higher grades were given in the Russian language. In 1921-22 the graduates of the gymnazye stood before the state examination commission and received certificates providing entry to universities. These were the first certificates in a Bialystok private gymnazye. Since that year, the gymnazye has been located in a large building at Sienkiewicza 4. The gymnazye graduated over 150 students with certificates during the first year, 1921-1922. The gymnazye is actually considered a graduate gymnazye.
The basic idea today is for the gymnazye to educate the young without distinction as to belief or nationality in the spirit of mutual friendship and devotion.
Now the gymnazye has eight classes and two preparatory classes with 252 students, only 75 of whom are Jewish. Jewish religion and Jewish history are taught six hours a week.
The Communal Coeducational Gymnazye
The gymnazye was found in 1925 by the community to spread education among Jews in Bialystok. It is located at Kupiecka 41. It received government rights in 1930. Two hundred students, 100 boys and 100 girls, study there. Hebrew is taught there four hours a week; they teach an abridged Khumish [Torah] and the Early and Later Prophets.
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