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Krynki's Zionism and its Activities

 

by by D. Rabin

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The Aims and Status of the Movement

Between the two world wars, The Zionist Movement had a pioneering platform – to prepare the youth for aliya to Israel as chalutzim [Zionist pioneers], to educate the Jewish child in the Hebrew-national spirit, to win over the souls of the people to the idea of our redemption in our historic homeland, and to bring it to fruition. Within this movement, its leaders and activists acted with concern for the needs of the local Jewish community.

Even though there were members of the various factions of the Zionist movement in Krynki, the most prominent bloc in the town, with its constant activities, was the Working Land of Israel, and especially Tzeirei Tzion [Young Zion]. From 1926, it united with the right-leaning Poalei Tzion, with the name Poa'Tz'Tz'S. [Poalei Tzion, Tzion Socialist]. It also took into

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its rubric, the Socialist-Zionist and pioneering youth, dedicated itself to the enterprise of Hebrew education in the town. Of course, this was over and above its activities in the general Zionist movement for Keren Hayesod (1,737 zloty collected in the town in 5689 [1929], in comparison with the 3,462 zloty of the district capital of Sokolka), for the Keren Kayemet [Jewish National Fund], for the distribution of the shekel [token of membership in the Zionist organization] (193 in 5686 [1926] and close to 500 in 5699 [1939]), in the Tarbut organization (5 delegates to the first national convention: A. Einszejn, Y. Gabai, M. Zaleski, B. Nisht, Sh Cukert, and others).

As I remember, Tzeirei Tzion (as the word Tzeirei means – they were youths) was already bustling and active in Krynki during the German conquest during the First World War. However, after the revolution in Germany at the end of 1918, it conducted a battle for precedence in the general communal forum – with the elections for the communal council and the town council, conducted for the first time on a democratic basis.

B. Nisth (Niv) relates: “We were then a youth movement without a significant past in general communal activities within a town of workers – and we had to measure up to the much older and stronger local Bund. Furthermore, many members of Tzeirei Tzion were not yet of voting age for the town council. However, they stood with us with their energy and appreciation that they earned for themselves through their activities in various communal affairs, especially in the field of Hebrew education, and we earned a victory.”

 

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The Tzeirei Tzion Committee, 1929

From right: Moshe Szmulewicz, Chaim Bunim, Moshe Morajn, Izik Ostrinski, Bendet Nisht, Beila Klotnicki, Efraim Afrimzon

 

Similarly, I have in my hands an article from Krynki, from the central publication of Tzeirei Tzion in Poland, Bafreiung in Warsaw, from February 11, 1921, which notes: “The influence of Tzeirei Tzion in the communal arena was great. Our faction in the town council was the only one that participated in all important activities, and all work of the communal council was directed by our members.”

 

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The first chapter of Hashomer Hatzair

 

That article also tells about evening classes for adults, sponsored by Tzeirei Tzion. Courses included Jewish history, geography, natural sciences, political economics, Hebrew, and Yiddish. There were also special classes for Hebrew, and the history of Jewish settlement in the Land that Tzeirei Tzion arranged for the groups of laborers who were preparing to make aliya in the near future.

In another article in the aforementioned publication, from April 3, 1926, Ben-Amram writes among other things that there were 80 members in the united organization of Poalei Tzion Zionist Socialists, and it was the only organization with influence in political and cultural life in our town. Furthermore, “Tzeirei Tzion consisted of about 100 members from the circles of workers, and from the first three cohorts of our school, who are moving into creative labor and are active in the activities of our organization. Our members are active in the communal institutions – in the People's Bank, in the committee for care of orphans, etc., and their influence is great.”

That year, our party also participated in the elections for the chapter of the government sick fund in our town. On May 1, 1934, the daily newspaper of our party in Warsaw states that 500 workers, members of the commonfolk and the youth, participated in a parade in honor of the laborers' holiday, which was arranged in Krynki by the League of the Working Land of Israel. “They were under the red flags of Poalei Tzion,

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Socialist Zionists, Hechalutz, Haoved, Freiheit, Hechalutz Hatzair, and Hapoel. The members Borowski and Wiener delivered speeches in the yard.”

 

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Freiheit chapter

 

The status and influence of the Working Land of Israel movement of Krynki grew greatly in the final months before the Second World War. “The number of members in our youth movement here in Freiheit-Hechalutz-Hatzair reached approximately 200, and approximately 50 in Hapoel” writes Melech Zalkin in his article of June 30, 1939 about Bendet Nisht in the Land of Israel.

That month, elections to the 21st Zionist Congress took place. From the 449 registered voters in Krynki, the Working Land of Israel bloc received 406 votes. (The Histadrut Hatzionit of Poland list received 35, and Mizrachi – 7.)

 

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Poalei Tzion, Socialist Zionists, 1934, flag celebration

 

For the elections to the town council during those days of great danger in the world and in the Land of Israel, M. Zalkin writes further in the aforementioned article: “We marched with the motto ‘For or against the Land of Israel at this time.’ “This was the era of the publication of the British White Paper against aliya and Hebrew settlement in the Land. We hit the mark in the depths of the people who were faithful to the nation in their hearts. Our motto bore its fruits: from among the eight Jewish delegates elected to the town council, the Bund only received two, whereas we (the bearers of the flag of Working Land of Israel) received six.

However, the central and primary activity of the movement in Krynki, especially among the youth – that is, those of Tzeirei Tzion and later with its union with the right-leaning Poalei Tzion (Poalei Tzion – Socialist Zionists) – was the preparation of Hebrew education.


The Jewish Education Enterprise

by Efraim the son of Efraim [Afrimzon]

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The Hebrew School

Our school was founded by the Tzeirei Tzion organization in the year 5678 (1918). These were days of the revival of the world. The shofar sound of the revival of the nation passed through the camp of our youths, and we were all armed with energy and dedication as we set out to build the Hebrew school.

We began our efforts without outside help. We arranged several celebrations. Our members donated their last coins, and we set up an abandoned dwelling to serve as the school. We toiled and obtained desks. With great dedication, we obtained supplies. We did not yet have experience in the field of education, but we did not turn backward, and we were happy with our lot and our activity.

To our good fortune, A. Einsztejn stood at the head of our institution, and our good friends taught on a voluntary basis – and the school opened.

This was immediately after the German conquest. Our city declined and was destroyed. Its residents became impoverished. Of course, their hearts were not open to improving the education of their children. However, bit by bit, the community began to recognize the value of our school, and masses of children began to come to us. The teachers related to their work as a holy task, and prepared themselves to be fit to serve in the sanctuary. They did not spare themselves any toil. They weighed all their actions, and toiled to acquire pedagogic expertise. The internal situation of the institution improved day by day, and the number of students grew continuously. All the cheders in the city closed, for the students left them. We acquired more than 300 students, which was unexpected at the outset.

Seeing that the student size was too large for its creators, and feeling the full responsibility involved in this, we increased our efforts, as did the teachers. The hearts of the founders

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of the school rejoiced when they saw that they had succeeded in establishing an institution that would save an entire generation from boorishness. In truth, the Orthodox complained about us. They could not accept the idea that the education of the younger generation was given over to the hands of apikorsim (heretics}. However, we did not pay attention to them or their complaints, just as we did not pay attention to the complaints of the Yiddishists who tried to undermine our school. We then began to determine a tuition fee for all the students, first of all in order to ensure some sort of maintenance for the institution, and second, we intended to uproot the “begging” that came with the occupation. Of course, the poor paid in accordance with their abilities. The income was small, only about 30-40% of what was required. Nevertheless, our school was maintained, and continued to develop and improve. We thus endured a year and a half of birth pangs. During that time, we realized that it had struck deep roots in the ground, and that even an unusual wind would not uproot it from its place. However, the Bolshevik occupation overtook us suddenly in the summer of 1920, and threatened to forcefully undermine the entire structure of Hebrew education that we had set up with such great effort.

 

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The People's School of Tzeirei Tzion, first cohort Krynki, 5682 / 1922

From top right, first row: 1) Freda Margolis, 2) Devora Chasid, 3) Esther Kirpic, 4) Tzipora Shapir, 5) Diamant, 6) Moshka Kirpic, 7) Shoshana Zaleski, 8) Chana Kaminski
Second row: 1) Chaya Slapak, 2) Moshe Zaleski, 3) Przpyurka, 4) Shoshana Cukert, 5) Beila Klotnicki, 6) Shoshana Lewin, 7) Liba Poria
Third row: 1) Chana Farber, 2) Bobcha Frajdman, 3) Yosef Gabai, 4) Avraham Einsztejn, 5) Bendet Nisht, 6) Ethel Terkel, 7) Batya Szolchowic
Fourth row: 1) Cymbler, 2) Chanoch Furman, 3) Shraga Ostrinski, 4) Avraham Cukert, 5) Efraim Afrimzon, 6) Shmuel Zaleski, 7) Zeidel Lasz, 8) Yisrael Sapir, 9) Simcha Furman

 

In an emergency meeting of the leadership of the school, we decided:

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“We ill not give them anything.” We divided up all the school supplies among the members, who brought them to their homes clandestinely. Only the desks remained, for we could not hide them.

When the Bolsheviks conquered the city, they set up a commissa¬ry for education, as was their custom, headed by one of our “Reds” into whose hand we had to give over the fate of all the education in our city. We reopened the school as if nothing had changed. All of our students returned. Not one enrolled in the government school. The entire teaching staff set out to their tasks, and not one accepted the offer of the commissary to transfer to their institution. The rulers issued an edict that the Hebrew school must close, and all of its supplies must be given over to the commissary of education. Our teachers were instructed to gather all the students to the classes to say good bye to them. The final class was then dedicated to the issues of the day. A silent lamentation united the teachers and students at that time. These were schoolchildren who wept, and knew why they were weeping.

Fearful days overtook our members. They were libeled for hiding the school funds and inventory. After an inquiry, the verdict was that the members of the school leadership would be deported from the city. However, the Bolsheviks left the city due to the victory of the Poles on the banks of the Wisła.

It was destroyed by them from a financial perspective, but we nevertheless renewed the work with the school. We gathered the equipment, and we succeeded in salvaging the portion that was stolen by the Bolsheviks. We even came out with a profit, for we found that the hall of the institution had been renovated by the commissary of education.

The students returned to their classrooms like captive birds that had gone free and returned to their nests. Anyone who did not witness the joy of the children at that time has not seen true joy in his life[1]. The work began and was conducted with double energy and dedication.

However, there was no extended period of calm. The Polish authorities began to afflict us, and always found issues with the school. We overcame all obstacles, fought with all our might, and obtained a complaint regarding the lower authorities from the ministry – and our school was not closed. Many parents assisted us. In their meetings, which had the appearance of a mass meeting based on the number of participants, they decided to struggle for the existence of our educational enterprise, and to support it to the extent possible. Even our opponents from among the Yiddishists were unable to overcome it, and we educated about 90% of the children of the workers in it. The meetings that they called and the bans that they placed on workers who gave over their children to our school were to no avail. After these meetings, we received encouraging letters of thanks from those workers.

To the announcement of the government that all children of the city, without any difference based on nationality, must transfer to the Polish school, our parents responded with a notice signed by hundreds of parents protesting this type of relationship to Hebrew education in our city, and demanded that it be funded by the state.

We utilized our representatives in the city council and struggled for the rights of the Hebrew school. We indeed succeeded, and the city council allocated appropriate sums to our benefit.

The first era of the school concluded in 1922 – the era of founding and building. We also earned the right to see the fruit of our labors: the first graduating class with several tens of youths faithful to their nation, culture and land, armed with knowledge and education.


Translator's Footnote:

  1. This expression is based on Mishna Sukka 5:1. Return


More About our School During
the Changing of Ruling Authorities

by Shamai (Shima) Kaplan

Translated by Jerrold Landau

After the First World War, three types of Jewish schools existed in Krynki: The Hebrew School of Tzeirei Tzion, attended by the majority of the children of the city, about 500 students of the Yiddishists, directed by the members of Left Leaning Poalei Tzion, Bund, and the Communists; and the General Cheder of the Orthodox, attended by about 200 children.

The local communal council did not yet have legal status. However, it was active and was recognized by the JOINT, which was a very important force in Poland in those days due to the extensive help that it gave to its Jews after the ruin of their status during the world war. In the communal council, Tzeirei Tzion was represented by close to half of the delegates, including people of the synagogue and non-factional. At one point, the communal council received 100,000 marks from the JOINT to provide food for summer camps for the students, for the nutrition in their schools was wanting. According to the agreement between the communal council and the JOINT, 70,000 marks were allocated to the Hebrew School, and 30,000 to the Yiddish School. Since the people of the General Cheder were unable to organize summer camps on their own, the Hebrew School had to provide food for the children of the cheder as well, to the extent that requests were made for that purpose.

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It was the summer of 1920, and war broke out between Poland and Soviet Russia. The front began to approach the city of Krynki. The local Communists were awaiting the arrival of the Red Army. When it became clear to us that the die was cast, and the Bolshevik army was already standing behind our walls, and we knew their attitude toward Hebrew and Zionism – we summoned the leadership of the school and the Poalei Tzion council to an emergency meeting. We decided to hide the money that we had received from the JOINT distribution and that had not yet been used for its purposes, and to prepare for what was to come.

During those days of battles on the front near Krynki, many incidents of pillage were perpetrated in Krynki by Polish soldiers. Some of the Jewish residents put pressure on the treasurer of the school, Shima Kaplan, to use the aforementioned sum of money for a bribe to the military commanders to rein in their men and prevent them from pillaging. Having no choice, 10,000 marks were used for that purpose, and 60,000 remained in the treasury of the institution.

I recall that after the Bolsheviks entered Krynki, we held a secret meeting in the women's section of the Beis Midrash, and decided to open the school. In our naivete, we surmised that the Russian occupation of a region full of Jews would permit the development of local Jewish culture, perhaps taking into account the realities, and behaving in a liberal manner. If we could get through the emergency period, perhaps changes would take place, and the Soviet persecution of Jewish culture would cease. We knew that we could not now find the means to uphold the school from the income of celebration and flower days[1], for the vast majority of the community remained without livelihood. We therefore assumed that the money remaining from the JOINT allocation would hold us up in the interim to pay the teachers, and we would thereby be able to maintain the school now, and see what would come next.

Thus, we opened the school with a full staff of teachers. The children all came. The negative propaganda from the Bolshevik police began immediately but was not successful. The Communists themselves, whose children had attended previously, did not remove their children, for the desire of the children overcame that of the parents. Our opponents convened a public meeting on the topic of “two populations.” The publicity at the meeting was conducted in the spirit of the Bund. The Hebrew School was described as a “nothing other than a cultivator of nationalism, without fundamental general culture that would be worthwhile for workers and their children during their lifetimes.” There were calls from the audience refuting these false words. The head of the local division of culture of the Soviet regime threatened one of those who issued the calls, Izik Ostrinski, from the podium that anyone who interrupts the meeting will be put in jail.

Since the propaganda against our school did not succeed, and the children continued to attend, an edict came from the commissariat of education one fine day to close the institution. The final class that day in all the classes was based on the story of the final class given in Alsace-Lorraine on the eve of its transfer from France to Germany after Germany conquered the area in 1871. The content of the story echoed the spirit in our school at that time, and the children burst out crying. With tears in their eyes, the students even welcomed the delegation from that “cultural division” who appeared that day in the school. They even began to stone its people with stones. Of course, the cultural division later claimed that the children were “incited by the Zionist reactionaries.”

After the Bolsheviks closed our educational institution and confiscated all of its property, they issued a demand to give over the treasury. Investigations and even arrests began. However, they did not last for a long time there, for their army was forced to retreat from the area after its defeat.

When the Poles returned, we again opened the school and continued the classes as previously, without paying attention to the plans of the authorities, for indeed our district was considered to be an occupied area until its fate would be determined by a referendum. We continued to teach Russian as the local language, in addition to Hebrew. However, when the Polish government was formed, and it established its ministry of education, it became necessary to ensure that the institution would be recognized by the government. Then we changed the language of instruction from Russian to Polish. A special teacher, Diamant, was hired for that purpose. He had academic credentials, and would be legally recognized to serve as an official principal for the population.

Even so, this was insufficient to satisfy the government supervisor of schools, who came to us from Grodno and visited all the classes. We found out that he had decided to close our school, for he regarded it as a “den of Russification.” He got this impression during his visit, since not one of our teachers, aside from the aforementioned official principal, was fluent in Polish. This was the same as the rest of the intelligentsia in the area, who were educated in their time in Russian schools. Indeed, this was

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an issue to which the Poles, who had suffered from Russian oppression for generations, were very sensitive. Great efforts were demanded of us to annul the decree, and to ensure that our mission would exist into the future.

With this, we knew how to preserve the Jewish-national style of our education. This was also the case when the Poles commanded our school to participate in the annual festival parade of May 3, the constitution day of the State of Poland. Including the youth, we formed 70% of the participants of this parade. However, rather than sing Polish songs, we began to sing in Yiddish, and even more so in Hebrew, with songs of the Land of Israel. Thus, the parade turned into a huge Jewish-national demonstration. After that time, the Poles no longer invited us to participate in parades of this nature.


Translator's Footnote:

  1. This expression is based on Mishna Sukka 5:1. Return


The Hebrew High School

by Efraim the son of Efraim [Afrimzon]

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The first group of the Hebrew school completed its primary course of studies in 1922. The question now stood before us and before the parents: What now? The children were young, and it would be too bad if we had to send them to work. Most of them were talented. We decided to make efforts to continue our efforts with secondary education.

The teachers of the school were self-taught. They learned and grew as they taught the classes. They did not have any teaching certificates for high school, and none of them had the resources to obtain such certification. The only place in Poland which certified academic teachers in Hebrew culture was Galicia, which was formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where freedom prevailed and there were people with higher education to train Hebrew teachers.

We knew one such person, Dr. Cwygel, who had been the principal of the Tarbut Gymnasja in Białystok. We sent our member A. Einsztejn to Lwów. With his good imagination, he presented to the academics a rosy picture of the rich, firmly-based group in Krynki, promising a bright future to those who would teach in the high school that was being established in our city. Thus, he brought three teachers to Krynki: Dr. Rajs, who was killed in Rovno during the Holocaust; Dr. Gelernter for Hebrew; and Dr. Cwygel, who died in Israel, where he served as the principal of the teachers seminary in Givat Hashelosha.

This was the period of inflation, and their contract with us stated that their salary would be tied to the cost of living. From the outset, we were not experienced in such details, and we signed the contract. The high school covered its expenses primarily from the income from tuition fees, which placed a heavy burden upon the parents of the students, whose situation was difficult.

During those days, Krynki was cut off from the markets to which it had formerly exported its leather products, and had not yet accustomed itself to the new economic situation. This was the period of a chronic depression, and the people of the city earned their livelihoods with difficulty, as the cost of living jumped by 200-300% from time to time. We had to pay the teachers double or triple, whereas the tuition had been collected from the outset, one month previously, and we could not ask the parents to add on to the past accounts. We went from crisis to crisis We borrowed money at a cut rate so that we could pay the teachers whom we had brought in from the outside – so that they would not leave us – while the local teachers who taught in the elementary school received a much lower salary than their aforementioned colleagues, and always late by a month or two.

We realized that we could not continue like this. Shima Kaplan and I approached the teachers of the high school classes and said: “My sirs, do what you must do – we cannot fulfil that which we have taken upon ourselves: finish the year somehow.” Dr. Cwygel did not agree to any compromise. Dr. Gelernter was a Jew who did not regard money as the main thing. Dr. Rajs, a man of culture and a gentleman, “understood the issue.” Through his influence, the three of them announced that they were prepared for significant compromises in order to finish the year. Thus, we finished it somehow. The high school continued for another year, but we could not add anything to ensure its existence.

Indeed, we were even forced to struggle with some of the parents of the students, including the wealthy ones. The tuition, which increased each time, was divided into three categories: average, to cover the needed costs to maintain a student; low, for the workers, and for social situations. Some did not even pay at all; and a third category – for the wealthy, who also had to pay to maintain the students who did not have the means. The progressive tuition fees were a thorn in the eyes for some of the wealthy people.

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Their complaint was: where is the democracy and equality? They would also grumble, from mouth to ear, that we were Bolsheviks and were doing things that ought not to be done. There were even those who went so far as to attempt to take over the leadership of the school at a meeting of parents. There was a concern that they might succeed, but we knew that the group at the head of the institution knew how to stand up to this crisis. We continued to collect progressive tuition fees until the final day of the existence of the school. We also ensured the continuation of the high school as we had previously.


With the Hebrew Teachers in Krynki

by Arnold Rozenfeld

Translated by Jerrold Landau

It was in the year 1923, after I had served as the principal of the Tarbut School in Ostrów Mazowiecka for a year. I had been one of its founders. During the large vacation, I approached the office of the Tarbut educational network in Warsaw and requested a workplace outside of Ostrów. In the office, I met a person who aroused my appreciation and my heart, and I discussed work issues with him. This was Avraham Einsztejn, a permanent resident of the town of Krynki, who was serving in those days in Warsaw as the inspector of Tarbut schools of Poland.

He recommended that I go to Krynki to teach the Polish language, history and geography in the Tarbut School. I was very concerned at first when I heard of the distance of that town from the headquarters, for I was too young to distance myself from cultural life and the society of the big city. However after investigating through my acquaintances, I found out that we were speaking of a Jewish town that earned its livelihood from the manufacture of hides {for the maunfacture of clothing}, and it had many merchants and interested youth, where one could spend time in a nice fashion, without having to travel even to nearby Białystok or to Warsaw.

When I accepted Einsztejn's recommendation and I returned to my native city of Radom, I discovered to my joy that one of my dear friends, an exemplary teacher, Josef Korman, was also about to begin teaching in the Tarbut School of Krynki.

Even before the beginning of the school year, we decided to live in a joint room in Krynki. It is worthwhile to note that there was not yet any transportation between Krynki and Białystok in those days, and one could only get there by diligence[1], after a very wearing journey.

When we arrived in Krynki, we met at the school two young men who were its living spirit: Bendet Nisht (Baruch Niv) the administrator, and Efraim Afrimzon, the secretary. They received us as good friends, and helped us to the best of their ability. They also found us a place to live. We roomed with the Brustyn family, who were quiet, modest, good people. The room that we rented was spacious. After some time other new teachers arrived including Guta Frankberg, Bracha Rappaport, Za'k, and others.

After the renowned educator Yissachar Rajs, the principal of that good school, left, it was hard to find an appropriate principal to take his place, and it was only after several months that Gottesfeld was appointed to that position and arrived.

We began our educational work and were very satisfied. The institution was large, as was the number of students. Most of the children were educated, and had a great desire to learn. Teaching there was not difficult with such students. The school was housed on the second floor of a hut, and the stairs leading up to it were narrow. However, it felt that it was organized well. It had a rich library, a lovely nature room, and all the necessary work implements. The economic situation was not the best in most of the Tarbut schools , and the teachers would wait with great patience to receive their meager monthly salary. However, I did not complain, for we knew that it was not easy for the parents to obtain the tuition fees for their children. After some time, my friend Korman and I found another source of livelihood aside from our school, where the income was higher than our salary. I was the only teacher in that city who was knowledgeable in the Polish language and literature, and was willing to prepare students for the examinations for the gymnaszja in the big city. It was not difficult to find opportunities to give private lessons for payments in dollars, because the Polish zloty was not accepted at that time, especially beyond the borders of Congress Poland. Thus we did not suffer greatly if we did not receive our school salary very late.

The level of studies in our institution was very high. The children studied willingly. After they finished their course of studies, they had no problem in being accepted to high school. With time, we also made friends with members of the communities, and we would spend evenings in a more interesting fashion than in the big city. With time, we also earned well without having to make extra expenditures, and we were able to put significant sums into savings.

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We used the dollars that we saved for charitable purposes. If one of the merchants was traveling to Białystok or Warsaw to purchase merchandise, they knew that they could receive a sum from the teachers Rozenfeld and Korman. The merchants also knew how to return us the favor. If we wanted to purchase merchandise or a good suit on occasion, they would sell it to us for a token sum.

As spring approached, we also knew how to enjoy ourselves. Bendet Nisht, a pleasant youth, loved and appreciated by all, was the living spirit for everyone. He was good at singing Russian and sentimental songs. Anyone who heard him would never forget his singing. Even today, in my old age, I immediately remember our Bendet if the sound of a Russian song reaches my ears. I remember his Russian song, “Clown Around, You Clown!.” Not only did he excel in this, but also in his pleasant manners, his joy, his ability to tell pleasant jokes, and to bring joy to those around him.

In the spring and the beginning of the summer, we teachers as well as several male and female youths from the finest group in Krynki would gather almost every night in the grove close to the town. We would sing, tell jolly stories, joke around, and play nice games. Some of us could play the guitar very well. On occasion, we would return from our excursion to the grove at dawn, always joyous and happy.

During the winter, I would travel to Warsaw for the weekend. At that time, I was an enthusiastic music fan. I would board the diligence[2] for a difficult journey of several hours to Sokolka already on Friday afternoon. From there, I would take a train to Białystok, and then a fast train to Warsaw. At night, I would already be hearing a fine philharmonic.

I would spend the Sabbath on the sports fields, and Saturday night at an interesting performance. Early the next morning, I would return to “my shtetel Krynki.” These were perhaps the happiest days of my life.

I also had romantic occasions in Krynki. I did not have to complain that I had no luck with women. At first, I would often visit Tzila “the skinny” (Tzila Garber), a fine beautiful girl. My friend visited “the plump”, she was also beautiful,… but heavy.

If you search for the teachers, you would know that one of them was with “Tzila the thin” and the other was with “the plump one.” However after some time, I began to see a girl whose parents were very Orthodox. She was a very beautiful girl, intelligent and also very refined. She captured my heart, and things were even coming close to “actualization,” but her parents did not want to hear about me, for I was like a complete gentile in their eyes. They did not even want me to visit them. However, we continued to take strolls until late in the evening. When she had to return home, I had to bend down, and she would stand on my back and go over the fence of her house. Once, they invited me to their home, and when her father saw me without a cap, he left the guest room and began to scold and curse his daughter. I never visited that house again. The girl left Krynki and moved abroad after a brief time.

The end of the school year was drawing near. The salary owed to the teachers of the school was large, and Bendet and Efraim did not have the ability to pay the debt to the teachers, despite their good will. How did those who worked hard all year and did not receive their salary react? For the good of the school, they did without everything that was owed to them! Thus were Hebrew teachers in those days willing to sacrifice for Hebrew education. After I left the school in Krynki after one year, I did not think that I would ever return there, even as a teacher.


Translator's Footnotes:

  1. Days when flowers were distributed to raise funds for an organization. Return
  2. A diligence is a solid type of stagecoach. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagecoach (especially the part of Contenental Europe). Return


An Energetic Pioneer for the Hebrew School

by Daniel Perski[1]

Translated by Jerrold Landau

(A. Y. Einsztejn, may G-d avenge his blood)

Avraham Yehuda Einsztejn (one of the first Hebrew teachers in Krynki) was born in Želva, Grodno District, in 1885. He had a religious education. From the cheder, he went to the Yeshiva in Volkovisk. At the same time, he diligently read the new Hebrew literature, and earned his meager livelihood from giving private Hebrew lessons. When he returned to his hometown, he opened a modern cheder there, which served as a spiritual center and driving force for the Hebrew movement in the entire area. After his marriage, he settled in Krynki and was a Hebrew teacher for individuals and groups. When the Hebrew school was founded during the First World War, and was expanded afterward, Einsztejn was its principal and living force.

When the Tarbut educational network was founded later, Einsztejn was appointed by the organization as the chief superintendent of its schools. He then set up his residence in Białystok. Throughout all

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those years, he would frequently visit hundreds of Jewish communities in Poland in order to set up and organize Hebrew schools at various levels. His dedication to the idea of the renaissance revival of our language, and his organizational and pedagogic talent contributed greatly to the flourishing of the movement and Hebrew culture in all its manifestations in that country.

Einsztejn educated a generation of people faithful to the spirit of Israel. Many of his students serve today as teachers and guides for our youth in Israel and America.

Sturdy as an oak, tall and broad shouldered, action poured forth from his bright, lively eyes and this facial expression, as “one who revised the dead and wakes up the slumbering.” There was nobody like him: faith and trust were like the candle at his feet. He did not know the term impossible when it came to “our culture.” He was a populist by nature, a conversationalist and a friendly man. He was an overflowing wellspring of popular jokes and populist understanding. Joy of life brimmed forth from him. He was an activist and orator. He lectures thousands of times at gatherings, all on a single topic: How to organize Hebrew schools, and how to develop and maintain them.

Einsztejn was brought to the gas chambers together with the Jewish community at the time of the liquidation of the Białystok Ghetto. May G-d avenge his blood.

 

Kry137a.jpg
Avraham Yaakov Einsztejn

 

In Conclusion by the publisher

Already in 1931, the 15th year of the people's school and a decade of its first graduating class – the number of graduates of the Hebrew school reached 300. Many of them continued their studies and became teachers, doctors, engineers, researchers, etc. The number of graduates continued to increase as time went on.

 

Kry137b.jpg
A group of students of the Hebrew School with their teachers

 

Alongside the school, there was a restaurant for the students, and a Hebrew library for children and studying youth, that was named for Mendele Mocher Sefarim. Already in 1926, the number of volumes in the library reached 500. There was also a drama club that put on performances successfully.

“The Hebrew School in our town was a spiritual achievement of great people” -- states Moshe the son of Yaakov-Leib Zaleski, today a pillar of Hebrew education in the United States. “This was a daring act by a group of stubborn youths, to found an exemplary Hebrew school in a small town under restricted conditions, and to raise it to a high educational level.”

 

Kry137c.jpg
Tenth graduating class of the Tarbut School

 

“I, the youngest of the group, had the difficult task of organizing and directing the general studies. I approached my work without a curriculum, without Hebrew textbooks for geography, general history, mathematics, and nature:

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Kry138a.jpg
A class of the high school

 

My students, many of whom were only two or three years younger than me, would copy the study manuals by hand.

“This school taught many students. Its graduates who escaped the inferno and who scattered to all corners of the earth, continue their holy tradition of national Hebrew culture wherever they are.”


Translator's Footnote:

  1. There is a footnote in the text here: From HaDoar, New York, 27 Tammuz 5706 [1946]. Return


At the Margins of the Hebrew School

by Efraim the son of Efraim [Afrimzon]

Translated by Jerrold Landau

A Libel Against the Teacher Etel

This took place in the year 1922, when Etel Terkel of blessed memory taught grade two in the Hebrew School, which was housed in the building of Alter Farber. The stifling atmosphere in the classroom was unbearable, as usual, and the teacher went out on an excursion outside the city with the students in the afternoon. When they returned from the excursion, Etel permitted, as was her custom, the older children to return home alone, while she herself led the younger ones. When she was still on the way, she heard a shrill, warning voice directed to the children who had reached the city first. This was the wife of the church organist who was chastising them for apparently spitting on the holy icon on the porch of her house. Etel attempted to calm the woman. She called the children and accompanied them home.

However, this was not the end of the story. The organist lodged a complaint to the police against Etel, claiming that she purposely targeted his house with the students, took some of them out of line, placed them before the icon, and ordered them to spit at it, thereby desecrating the holy object.

In truth, it was the daughter of an Orthodox family, whose custom it was to spit three times when they passed by a holy icon or a cross, and conclude with “you shall utterly detest it”[1]. Thus did a libel form around her. We made sure that the girl would disappear from the town, thinking that the matter might hopefully be forgotten.

However, the next morning, as Etel was teaching in the class, a policeman came to summon her to the police station. I requested that he wait and not disturb her until she finished her class. We waited for an hour or two after she went to the police, and she did not return. I went there, and found out that she was arrested by command of the judge, who was known as a firm anti-Semite, and that they were preparing to take her the next day to the infamous prison in Grodno.

Etel was sickly, and we were very concerned that she would not be able to withstand the conditions of the prison. We therefore called an emergency meeting of the school leadership and teachers, and decided that Dr. Rajs, the official general principal of the school, and I would approach the judge and request that Etel be released on bail. The judge acted politely to us, but pointed out to us a section of the law that specifies a ten-year prison term for the crime which the teacher was accused of. Therefore, he had no permission to release her on bail, and she would be transferred to the prison in Grodno that night.

We decided that Etel's uncle Moshe Kuris and I would travel to Grodno to advocate on her behalf to the extent possible. This was Friday evening, and the trip would involve a violation of the Sabbath, especially for our house. When father returned from the synagogue, we explained to him the situation of risk of life[2] and the necessity for the trip. Thus we set out on a wagon and we arrived in Grodno.

 

Kry138b.jpg
The children of the Tarbut School strolling to the outskirts of Krynki via the market on a Lag B'Omer excursion

 

As we were searching for a lawyer, we found out that they were

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on vacation in camps. Nevertheless, toward evening, we got some type of attorney, but he told us that he could not do anything until Monday. Since we were very concerned that if Etel remained overnight in prison, who knows when she would be freed – we decided to take the iron while it was hot.

We went ourselves to the prosecutor. We did not find him, but rather his deputy Milner, and we poured out the bitterness of our heart to him regarding the teacher, Terkel, who was innocent of any wrongdoing. He responded that he was sorry, but he would review the case on Monday. After a brief rest, we went to visit the lawyer again. Etel was called before us, and she said that she was suddenly summoned to the director of the prison and informed that she was freed.

When we investigated the matter, it became clear that even though Milner told us that he would review the case on Monday, as a Jew by birth (he was an apostate), his heart did not rest, and he investigated the matter immediately. When he was convinced that the claims against Etel [were false], he commanded that she be freed.


Translator's Footnotes:

  1. Deuteronomy 7:26. Return
  2. Sabbath violation is permitted when life is at stake. Return


An Incident in the Literary Society Theater

by Shamai (Shima) Kaplan

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The upper floor of the only hall in Krynki for cultural performances served as the office of the “loan and credit” (“Benkel”) organization during the time of the German occupation during the First World War. The hall was owned by the Literary Society (“Literishe Farein”) a non-factional organization in which all the streams[1] in the city, especially the youth, participated.

This society disbanded later, even though the hall continued to bear its name. There was a form of unwritten mutual agreement that performances – which served as one of the important sources of income for the schools – would alternate between the Yiddish School and the Hebrew School. We were rehearsing then for a performance that was to take place on Friday night. When we came to get the keys to the hall, the people of the Yiddish school stated that the hall was designated for them on that evening. During the debate between us, we became suspicious that they were intending to take over the hall for themselves. To avoid such a precedent, we decided that, if that was the case, the hall would not be for either of us. Several of our youths went to steal the screen and thereby prevent performances from taking place in the hall.

 

Kry139.jpg
From the performance “A Wedding in the Town” by the Drama Club of the Hebrew School

 

However, one of the neighbors, from the people of the Yiddish School, discovered the matter, informed the police, and even told them who had stolen the screen. Gandler and two others of our group were arrested for this. Informing the police, who the Jews, regarded as hostile, aroused a great deal of bitterness in the community.

In the market square, the gathering place of the city where debates between the factions took place, we informed our opponents that if they intend to solve their disputes with us through the police – they have more to fear than we do. The levelheaded people among them understood that they had taken an improper step. Then it was agreed that the joint leadership of the society would resolve the matter. The leaders, Bendet Nisht and David Gotlib, turned to the investigating judge, an anti-Semite who awaited opportunities to find complaints against the Jews, and informed him that there was no theft, but rather that they themselves, the directors of the society, sent someone to remove the screen.

The investigating judge was therefore forced to annul the investigation. However, in order, to take revenge against the Jews, the screen was not returned.


Translator's Footnote:

  1. Streams refers here to the various factions in the city. Many of the organizations (youth groups, etc.) would be based on political factions. e.g. bund was decidedly secular and non-Zionist. The Zionist groups had several ‘streams’ -- socialist Zionist, middle of the road, religious, right wing. Poalei Zion, a common Zionist organization in these translations, had a left leaning stream and a right leaning stream. This literary society did not belong to any of those factions (or streams). Return


Labor Zionism and Aliya

by D. R. (Hechalutz)

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Hechalutz

The Hechalutz [Pioneer} organization was set up in Krynki in 1919. Without waiting too long, its founders sought to train its members for manual labor and communal life. A large garden was leased next to the bath house, where a number of male and female youths began to study and train in agriculture, as

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much as possible, until the time would come that the gates for aliya to the Land of Israel would be opened.

When the first convention of Hechalutz of Lithuania convened in Grodno in the autumn of 1919 – and this included all the areas around Grodno and Vilna – a delegate from the organization in Krynki, Bendet Nisht, participated. He also represented it about a year later in the general Polish convention of the movement that convened in Warsaw, and was even elected to the central council of Hechalutz in the country.

Indeed, during the summer of that year, 1920, the first group of pioneers from Krynki made aliya: the late Shima Za'k and Tzvi Carmeli (Rothbort), Izik Ostrinski, may G-d avenge his blood, and may they live: Avraham Najman, Yafa Furman (Chaklai), her brother Motka, and Tzvi Rothbort.

After making aliya, they worked together with the pioneers of Grodno in the forests of Mount Carmel and Itlit, in the orchards of Petach Tikva, and later in building in Rishon Letzion, Ramla, Jerusalem, and Motza. Finally, most of them joined agricultural settlements, some of them in Kibbutz Geva in the Jezreel Valley, where they joined Leah Nisht (Za'k) and Liza Rothbort (today the wife of David Tuviyahu[1], the first mayor of Beersheba and one of its architects and builders) – who also made aliya with the Third Aliya.

During the years 1919-1920, Krynki also served as a transit point for pioneers from other places – for hachshara and aliya to the Land. Shima Kaplan relates the following about this:

 

Kry140a.jpg
A group of chalutzim [Zionist pioneers] from Ukraine during their stop in Krynki on their route to the Land of Israel, 1920

 

Kry140b.jpg
Chalutzim [Zionist pioneer] at work at the Hachshara kibbutz in Krynki, 1933

 

“At that time Krynki and the district, were considered as an occupied area and various Polish laws did not apply there yet. Therefore “arnavot[2] came to us – youths from areas annexed de jure[3] to the country, with letters of recommendation from Zionist organizations stating that they were pioneers ready for aliya, and requesting that we help them. The intention was that we furnish them with identity papers stating that they were residents of Krynki, so that they could obtain an exit permit from Poland for the purpose of aliya to the Land of Israel.

“First, we trained them to know the names of the streets and specific residents of the town, to prove that they were indeed local residents – in the event that they were captured and interrogated. Furthermore, we used to invite the head of the town council, Adolf Kozman, to a “feast of kings” at Chaikel Olian's house, and we would give the “sire” drinks as he requested. When the king was tipsy, we would ask him to certify appropriate documents through which

[Page 141]

the lads could receive testimony that they were from Krynki, and were therefore permitted to travel to the Land of Israel.”

In Nisan 5681 (1921), the members of Tzeirei Tzion of Krynki started an effort to collect work tools for the workers of the Land of Israel, as declared by the headquarters of that faction in Warsaw. Many agricultural tools, work tools, household utensils, and a significant sum of money for the designated purpose were collected in the town. The people of Krynki even conducted this campaign in the nearby towns.

That year, Tzeirei Tzion also sponsored trade lessons for preparing those who were to make aliya.

Further on, we will discuss more about the continuing activities of Hechalutz in Krynki. However, here is the place to note that in 1933, at the time that six pioneers from the hachshara kibbutz in Krynki began to work in Pruzhanski's factory to prepare themselves for aliya, the opponents of Zionism from among the tannery workers displayed an unfriendly attitude toward them. They even intended to force the pioneers to leave the factory.

This opposition in Krynki, as in other places in Poland at that time, was unable to disrupt the activities of Hechalutz, which at that time were not only to actualize the Zionist ideal, but also to save the Jewish youth from despair and hopelessness in their lives. We should note the merits of the founders of Hechalutz, and those who continued on in their path, and of the Zionist movement in Krynki, for in their merit, there are approximately 250 families of Krynki natives in Israel, among its builders and defenders. May the number grow.


Translator's Footnotes:

  1. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Tuviyahu Return
  2. Literally “rabbits” probably because they “hopped” in. Return
  3. De jure is a political term for a legally binding situation. During an annexation, it could be informal, or it could have been entrenched by law. ‘de jure’ means it was entrenched by law. The area they were living in did not have a de jure annexation, so people wanted to come in. Return


From the Labor Zionist Movement

by Shmuel Harbarm-Krupnik

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The Hechalutz Chapter

In 1942, the Hechalutz chapter in Krynki reached its pinnacle in essence as well as numbers. There were more than 100 members, male and female. Vibrant life was felt in all areas of activity of the chapter.

With its founding, it was located in the people's school in Farber's home (Alter “Der Farber” [the painter]). Later, it moved to the Bath House Street (“Da Besl”), in a house which had once served as the senior's residence next to Linat Tzedek. In that building, a branch of the Tarbut School was opened, and we would attend there each evening. Aside from organizational, political and publicity efforts, there were evening classes in Hebrew and knowledge of the Land. Our teachers were the comrade Alter (a teacher in Tarbut, not a native of Krynki), and Berl Stolarski, a graduate of that school.

Some of the students began to go on hachshara with the aim of making aliya to the Land, and a significant number started to study a trade locally in preparation for their aliya. This was not an easy matter at all, and the parents disturbed us throughout that time, because it was difficult for them to come to terms with the idea that their sons and daughters would leave them and make aliya to the Land to work there as hired laborers, whether as employees or tradespeople. However, we overcame all the obstacles and disturbances. There were those among us who suffered beatings from the parents, and there were those who were kicked out of their homes more than once. There were also those who left their homes and went out hachshara without the agreement of their parents. The desire to actualize the Zionist-pioneering idea was strong. We would carry out with dedication all the actions declared from the headquarters of the movement in Warsaw, as well as all the decisions of the chapter. Our will was strong that our chapter would be among front ranks in our movement in Poland.

 

Kry141.jpg
A flower day for the benefit of the Hechalutz Fund

 

For the Hechalutz Fund

Many of us toiled and wracked our brains thinking how and through what means we could increase the income of the national Keren Hechalutz [Hechalutz Fund] – over and above the donations of our members and the public ribbon days that we arranged in the town. We decided to go out to cut trees for the local residents. Later we accepted that work as contractors for the Krynki electricity station in the yard of Yisrael Hertzka on Kancelarska Street. This was

[Page 142]

a revolutionary move for us toward manual labor, which only gentiles from the villages would perform for the Jews. One can imagine what the relationship of the parents to this, and what type of reception they gave us when returned home after this work.

On the days before Passover, we would send our male and female friends to work in the baking of matzos (in the matzo Podryan). This work would also bring in significant sums for Keren Hechalutz.

The Purging of Vessels on the Eve of Passover

At the beginning of the spring of 1925, we decided to set up a new activity for the benefit of Keren Hechalutz – to purge (kasher) vessels[1] for its benefit. It was a new thing in the city for chalutzim to perform this work. However, some of the members of the committee of the Hechalutz chapter were concerned that the householders of the town and the rabbi might object to placing this holy task into the hands of chalutzim. In my opinion, it was appropriate to approach Rabbi Miszkowski and receive official permission for this activity from him. However, it was difficult for me to influence several members to join me in a delegation to the rabbi. Finally, we girded our strength, and three members of the committee went to the residence of the rabbi, who lived in the yard of Kniszinski (Berl Nachum-Anshel's) factory at the edge of Garbarska Street.

Along the way, we had a debate as to who would be the chief spokesman. Each of us proposed the other. Finally, we decided at the last minute to not rely on an individual, but to help each other in the negotiation, and to not leave the rabbi's house until he agreed with us.

To our surprise, Rabbi Miszkowski received us in a friendly fashion, and asked us to be seated. When we revealed our plan to him and explained to him its purpose, he peered at each of us with his wise eyes, examined us with his splendid countenance, and asked who our parents were. Then he told us about the strictness, caution, and level of detail that this task would require, so that we would not fail those who placed their faith in us, heaven forbid, and not violate their joy of the festival.

At the conclusion of his words, I girded myself with strength and announced that we accept upon ourselves to be stringent in all the directives that we would receive, and that I myself am the son of an Orthodox family and a grandchild of Hassidim. Then he stood up, clasped our hands, blessed us with peace, and wished us success.

As is known, Rabbi Miszkowski in his time was affiliated with a political stream that did not support Socialist Zionism in the least. Nevertheless, he treated us properly. It was his custom always, in the Diaspora and in the Land, to avoid creating divisions among people with his religious and communal activities – and especially among the Jews of Krynki, whatever their political outlook was. He understood the spirit of each and every person, and offered his assistance to the best of his ability, especially in his latter years in the Land.

After we received the approval, we publicized the matter with handwritten signs in all the houses of worship and barber shops in the town, noting that we had received the approval of the rabbi for this.

One evening, three days before the festival, many members went out to gather wood to heat the cauldron that we had set up in the empty yard of Chaim Juches, behind Szajnberg's house, which was a sort of public domain. We piled up heaps of wood that we had brought from our parents' homes and that we had hauled from the yards of the bakeries, especially from the nearby bakery of David Leib the baker.

We met early the next morning in the designated place. Our comrade Dines brought a large, clean cauldron. We placed it atop a foundation that we made of stones and bricks, and set up the first pyre. When the water came to a boil, we placed very hot rocks into it, and began to call aloud to the people to bring their vessels for purging. To our great joy, women and children quickly responded, and began to bring various vessels. We diligently performed the work with reverence and awe.

The income of Keren Hechalutz from the purging of vessels reached 45 zloty. The participants included: Sh. Dines, G. Dubinsztejn, B. Wajnsztejn, B. Falk, Y. Guz, the writer of these lines, and others.

The Hechalutz Carpentry Workshop

In 1925, we opened a carpentry workshop under the auspices of the Hechalutz chapter of Krynki. A guide who knew the trade well, Comrade Kantorowicz from Oszmiana [Ashmyany] near Vilna, was sent to us from the district secretariat of the movement. We rented a large hall in the yard of the tannery owner Alter Shegam (Kunes), and purchased tools and a work bench – all through our own finances. We spared no effort or energy for the success of our enterprise, despite the opposition of the parents and interference from the local carpenters.

The carpentry workshop developed well in a brief time. We had many customers in the town, and carried out various projects. After a year, we moved to the yard of Moshe Leibowic, who also had a tannery. Many local members of Hechalutz and Hechalutz Hatzair received their professional training there.

I recall that already in the first days of the existence of the carpentry workshop

[Page 143]

we received an invitation from Rabbi Miszkowski, who requested that our carpenters come to fix the floor in one of the rooms of his house. As the central force in the carpentry workshop and one of its organizers, I went to him along with the advisor and one of the working staff. The rabbi was very happy to greet us. Throughout the entire time that we worked at fixing the floor, he chatted with us and took interest in our new enterprise. He did not quibble with us over the price, and paid us generously. He praised us and our work as diligent workers.

The Left Leaning Poalei Tzion Party

Following the convention in Warsaw in 1925, at which the right leaning Poalei Tzion merged with the Socialist Tzeirei Tzion, and in which Bendet Nisht participated on behalf of the Krynki chapter – many of the members of Hechalutz joined the united party, and its activities began to take place with double energy. In a united celebration that took place in lofty spirits at that time in the hall of the Tarbut School in the Farber building, the chief spokesmen were the members Menashe Garber and Beila Kotnicki of blessed memory, and may he live, Bendet Nisht.

A drama club existed alongside the party. It performed various performances on frequent occasions, the income of which was dedicated to local communal or national causes. A technical committee operated alongside the club, headed by the member Tzvi Gandler, who excelled with his talents and attention to detail.

A mandolin group also existed alongside the party, most of the members of which were graduates of the school or students in the upper grades. Its directors and teachers were the members - M. Borowski and the brothers Asher and Tzvi Gandler.

 

Kry143a.jpg
The dramatic club affiliated with the Hebrew School

 

The Heshel Sapirsztejn Zionist library

A large library named for Heshel Sapirsztejn (“Heshel Bibliotek” – The Heshel Library) existed in one of the rooms of the Tarbut School, affiliated with the united party. The room was filled to the brim with books, most of which were in Hebrew, very new and from the latest and best editions. The local youth and most of the residents of the town were members of this library.

Asher Gandler and Binyamin Ostrinki were the regular, dedicated librarians, working gratis. Every evening, they would respond to the request of anyone who approached them, as they circulated the books to the community. Those two were the pillars of the institution. The younger members of the movement were represented in the library committee, and bore the yoke together with the older ones.

For the Benefit of the National Funds

Many people worked on behalf of the national funds, especially for the Jewish National Fund. They organized ribbon days, in which pairs would pass through all the streets of the town, even visiting every house. Every pair would make efforts to collect the largest sum of money. We would also send members to private celebrations to canvass the attendees for the Jewish National Fund. The member Bendet Nisht stood at the helm of all these activities.

The Cherut-Hatechia Organization

At the beginning of the 1920s, a Cherut-Hatechia youth organization also existed in Krynki. It developed and flourished nicely, and formed the cradle of the Working Land of Israel movement that developed later. Its activists include Ostrinki, Moshe Borowski, and Asher Gandler.


Translator's Footnote:

  1. Vessels (dishes and utensils) used throughout the year must be immersed in boiling water or scalded at high heat (depending on the use of the vessel – the halachot are very complex) prior to being fit for Passover use. Return


Jewish Sport Groups

Translated by Hadas Eyal

 

‘Maccabi’

Shmuel Harbarm–Krupnik

The Maccabi gymnastics team was founded by the local ‘Zion Youth’ Party and active in 1921–1922. My older brother Gdalyahu was among its devoted and excellent members who regularly performed in the ‘People's Bank’ public hall. They would usually form human pyramids and entertain the audience with amusing gymnastic routines.

 

The ‘Bar Kochva’ Soccer Team

A soccer league for the benefit of Eretz–Israel workers was held in Krynki during the mid–1920s. Although the team used the Christian grazing meadow for local and regional home matches, the religious Jews were angered nonetheless because some games were held on Shabbat. They were also furious when the team travelled on Shabbat to away games.

 

kry143b.jpg
The ‘Bar Kochva’ Soccer Team

[Page 144]

‘The Young Chalutz’

Dvora Levin–Shpatz

Local Training for Aliya to Israel

I joined ‘The Young Chalutz’ youth movement in 1928. The Krynki branch had around 100 boys and girls, most of them Hebrew speakers, all with national spirit and yearning to see their future in Eretz Israel. The cultural activities in the branch were organized by alumni such as myself. I was the branch secretary for a long time. Among other things, we would collect the donations from the Jewish National Fund (JNF ‘Keren Kayemet’) donation boxes and coordinated fund raising for the Chalutz Fund. There were many obstacles to overcome to get government legalization.

Despite the 1929 violence in Eretz Israel and the difficulties to make Aliya at that time, many friends joined the training program, myself included. When Aliya was renewed in 1932, dozens of youth honored the Krynki name by demonstrating the high quality cultural education and excellent Hebrew language skills they received in our branch.

 

Kry144a.jpg
Sat in the middle: Zeev Tsur (Velvel Shein)

 

The Momentous Activity of ‘The Young Chalutz’

Haim Sheinberg

During the 1930s, the Krynki ‘Young Chalutz’ branch was one of the largest and most active in Poland. Its membership included the majority of the educated contemporary youth who were immersed in Hebrew language, literature and culture. They competed against the conservative–religious youth, the Yiddish ‘Bund’ and ‘Zukunft’, the socialists ‘SKIF’, and the Communist youth (who were commendably organized and active in the underground). The rivalry added interest and energy to our activities.

[Page 145]

Kry144b.jpg
Krynki Chalutz Committee

 

As members of a movement that advocated personal fulfilment, we held conventions, summer camps, weekly educational seminars, weekend parties, and debates with other youth groups on local Jewish issues as well as global affairs of the time. Additional invigorating enrichment activities included literary clubs and Q&A gatherings with candidates before elections to the city municipality, to community committees and to Jewish conventions.

Our adolescent exuberance was devoted to practical Zionist work collecting donations to the Jewish National Fund (JNF ‘Keren Kayemet’) and United Israel Appeal (UIA ‘Keren HaYesod’); we even enlisted our families and neighbors to action. Our success earned us praise and esteem from the movement's central institutions: prizes and flags, invitations to large conventions, and requests to send our youth counselors to fill various official roles. There were indeed many Krynki pioneers in the training Kibbutzim throughout Poland.

 

Kry144c.jpg
Flower Day to benefit the JNF

 

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