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The Hebrew Library

by Avraham Friedler-Scharf

A class in the national school of Rozniatow, 1938


With the outbreak of the First World War, the Hebrew school that had existed in our town for many years closed down. At the conclusion of the war, when the Polish regime became established in our area, and with the return of life to its normal courses, the Hebrew school reopened. It was Moshe Barnik of blessed memory who took it upon himself to teach. He taught with the Sephardic pronunciation rather than the Ashkenazic pronunciation that had been the norm until that time.

His labors were successful, but he was only there for a short period, since he left our town and moved to Lvov, where he had a wider field of activity.

However, there is always someone available within the Jewish people, and Tzvi Fassberg, who is now with us in Israel, took over the scepter of teaching, and performed his duties faithfully and with great success.

It is my duty to point out with gratitude his dedication and enthusiasm to the imparting of the Hebrew language to all that were in need, even outside the confines of the school. I merited to be among those who had rights of access to his room next to the school hall, in order to read the books that were in his possession, and in order to receive from him explanations and pointers regarding matters of difficulty with the books.

Lag Baomer festivities in the Tarbut school, 1936


The dearth of books for reading did not give us rest, and we were perplexed as to how to overcome the situation, and to establish a Hebrew library of significant size. We hit upon the idea of a “ribbon day” in the cattle market that took place in the Targowica area; that is to collect money by attaching ribbons to the lapels of the clothes. This task fell upon Yehuda Axelrad (Hamerman), who today lives in the United States, and myself. We went out to our activity with feelings of doubt. With the money we collected, we managed to purchase books that formed the basis of a Hebrew library, and gave us the possibility – albeit restricted – to obtain Hebrew books in return for minimal membership fees.

A lull took place in our efforts to search for ways to expand the library, for Mr. Fassberg left our town in the meantime. We awaited the next person.

Then, a Lithuanian teacher by the name of Reines came to our town, and speedily enriched our lives. When he found out that the existing library did not have the capability of providing for all its needs, he came upon the idea of presenting a Hebrew play, the income of which would be dedicated to the library.

This matter was deliberated upon also by the school committee, which was headed by Mr. Yossi Rosenberg. They decided definitively in favor.

The play that was chosen was “Jacob and Esau”. After many rehearsals, the preparations for the performance began. The date was set for a specific day in the winter of 1921-2, in the hall of Sender Friedler. The preparations included the printing of placards, the assignment of places, etc. The sale of tickets also began. The crowd was greater than estimated, and with all of the preparations, one very elementary fact was overlooked: that the number of seats in the hall was limited. Tickets had been sold to anyone who desired.

The Hebrew School, 1922


When the performance began, the hall was filled to the brim, and the crowding was great. Calls were suddenly heard from the hall: Stop the performance... Danger!”

Without any other choice, the performance was stopped. An announcement was made to the audience that the next day, there would be two performances, the first for the youth and children, and the second for the adults. Of course, some people who had not purchased tickets showed up at the performances.

The success was beyond what we imagined. Numerous books were purchased, and the library grew and expanded.

After a period of time, the school closed due to dearth of means. The library continued to operate; however there were fears for its fate, since we knew that its means were limited, even for the purposes of paying rent. Therefore, we brainstormed for ideas of how to save the library. How? We entered the library, Shimshon Rechtschaffen, Leib Meisels, and myself – and we removed the collection of books by hand, and stored them at Leib Meisels' house.

After some time, when Leib Meisels had to move to Lvov to study in university, it was decided to transfer the books to the general library in the home of Leibchi Yakel. These books became part of that library.

This was the history of the Hebrew library.

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