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[Pages 94-101]







The Jews had a functioning library as early as the end of the nineteenth century. Its founder and owner was Icchak Lipiec, a bookseller by trade. Icchak Lipiec owned several hundred books that he lent out for a weekly fee. He was a pious Jew, who prayed regularly in the synagogue, but at the same time he “illegally” lent out secular books. His library was doubly concealed: from the tsarist authorities, since he did not have the proper permissions; and from his orthodox confreres, who did not acknowledge the need to read secular books.

The first library was officially registered on 26 July 1900 in the name of Mendel Leibkowicz Miodownik. In was located in Kagan's house on Alejowa Street next to the bookstore. Readers were charged a fee of from 20 to 40 kopeks a month and from 2 to 5 kopeks per book. It was open from 9 AM to 8 PM. In 1911, it contained 1,720 books, of which 850 were in Yiddish, 650 were in Russian, and 220 were in Polish.

Another library was founded in 1901 among the Zionists, who used their own money to acquire books. At first it functioned underground, and the books were housed at Goldwaser's. In March 1904, it was legalized as a private library under the name of the Zionist Mordechaj Meir Landau, the son-in-law of Icchak Nachum Weintraub. It was located on Warszawska Street in Kamiński's house. Readers were charged a fee of 5 kopeks a book. It was open from 8 AM to 9 PM and on Fridays from noon to 3 PM because of Shabbat. In 1911 it had 1,780 books, of which 500 were in Russian, 160 were in Polish, and 1,120 were in Yiddish. It also had collections in French and German. The library was named for Landau after his death. This is how Apolinary Hartglas remembered him:

I befriended many among them, but especially Mordechaj Meir Landau, whose memory I will revere as long as I live. He was 5 years older than I, but he had a lung disease and looked almost as old as my father. He was an ardent Zionist; he worked in the direction of promoting the Zionist idea among Siedlce Jews and accomplished much. Wise and sensible, intelligent and well read, and above all of a rare nobility of character, impartial and extremely tactful, he was the one with whom I could easily confer on any social matter. He was a “Litwak” from Brześć on the Bug River, married in Siedlce [to Weintraub's daughter—author's note], he spoke Polish, albeit imperfectly, and he had a gift rare in this kind of Jew: he could identify with the Polish soul and the Polish cause, but at every step emphasizing Jewish separateness, his national pride, and the rights of his nation. And thus Polish society treated this “simple Jew” with all respect and good feeling, while they treated, for example, the assimilationist Dr. [Maurycy—author's note] Stein with clear disregard. I greatly valued and liked Landau, and while speaking at his funeral in 1918, I broke into quite real tears.1

Oszer Liwerant was responsible for checking out books. At a certain point, reservations arose as to the proper functioning of the library. It was open inconsistently, the catalogues, if they were compiled at all, were inaccurate, and the person handing out the book had problems finding the appropriate item. The tsarist police tried to control the library; every newly purchased book, legally of course, had to be presented for censorship. Not infrequent were searches of Jewish activists who visited the library. In 1912, the library had 2,500 books. Its work, however, was far from perfect. It was then that the idea arose of annexing it to the Jewish Art Society. This was accomplished in 1912, when the society was undergoing a crisis. A library division was formed consisting of Abraham Huberman, Weluda Frydman, Oszer Liwerant, Dawid Ajzenberg, Mosze Mandelman, and Berl Czarnobroda. The Chassidim joined the Zionists in working on the reorganization of the library. A list was drawn up of all the books, catalogues were compiled, and a reader's fee was introduced. A Polish section was added to the existing Jewish, Hebrew, and Russian sections. It was created by girls from the Bund: Rachela Edelsztajn-Berg, Gołda Halberstat, Terca Cukier, and Bronia Goldberg-Głazowska. Before the outbreak of World War I, there were over 300 readers who were signed up at the library. During the war, the tsarist authorities requisitioned the library building, but the book collection was saved and safely survived the war thanks to a devoted group of supporters of knowledge. After the war, the library renewed its activity, gaining many new readers and expanding its book collection. The new library building was at 66 Warszawska Street, in the offices of the Jewish Art Society. In contrast to the society, the library grew constantly throughout the interwar period. It was destroyed only by the Nazi invasion. In 1926, the twenty-fifth anniversary of its activity was formally celebrated. Famous writers living in Poland were invited to give lectures in Siedlce for this occasion.2



Two years after the 1906 pogrom, Jewish society in Siedlce started to shake off its apathy. In August 1908, Hazomir Musical Society came into being, officially registered in 1909, and in 1912 it took the name Jewish Art Literary-Musical Society. The goal of the society was to familiarize Jewish society with music and literature. Members of the first board were Kalman Galicki (chairman), Matitiahu Minc, Icchak Eliahu Cukier, Abraham Zigielkwas (Bund member), Mosze Wołowski (Bund member), Berl Minc, and Josef Rozenzumen (Bund member). In 1910, Icchak Nachum Weintraub (deputy chairman), Jejna Barenbaum, and Icchak Alberg joined the board. The yearly dues in 1912 were 3 rubles for permanent members and 6 rubles for those seeking membership. The society at that time had 150 members. Hazomir, popularly called Zome,3 was under the influence of the Bund. The society formed a choir, a drama section, and an orchestra. It organized meetings and lectures. It brought lecturers mostly from Warsaw. The tsarist authorities looked unfavorably at the activity of this center of culture. It introduced a censorship of theatrical productions, impeded the organization of meetings and events, and tried several times to close down the society's premises. All of these setbacks were overcome thanks to the unyielding stance of the board, particularly Icchak Nachum Weintraub. Yet Jewish society, which was conservatively disposed, looked with outrage upon the activity of the society, “where cigarettes were smoked on Saturdays, and boys and girls dance together.”4 Within the framework of doing battle with these views, Jakub Tenenbaum wrote a one-act comedy called “Don't Go to the Zome,” which was staged many times by the theatrical section of the society.

After regaining Siedlce from the hands of the Red Army in 1920, the military authorities requisitioned the Jewish Art building, and that society moved to a small place at the corner of Długa and Sądowa Streets. The inadequate size of the premises and the general atmosphere were not conducive to carrying on cultural-educational activity. In January 1924, a meeting took place at which a new board was formed: Chaim Goldberg, Menasze Czarnobroda, Jakub Tenenbaum, Moszek Rozenzumen, Moszek Rotbejn, Jankiel Szlechter, Szloma Hochberg, and Abram Gebel. The auditing committee consisted of Berek Czarnobroda, Berek Trybucki, and Jankiel Jabłoń. Starting in 1925, Jewish Art once again energetically began its work. Once a week there were meetings, lectures, concerts, and so forth. The library holdings were enlarged. The board in that year consisted of Mojsze Rotbejn, Mordko Zebrowicz, Mojsze Grabie, as well as Pejsach Kapcan. On 27 February 1925, a lecture was given in the premises of the society by Jankiel Tenenbaum on the subject of party nonaffiliation in social life. The lecture was attended by various party representatives. The lecture was followed by a heated discussion participated in by Lewi Gutgeld and Mozes Grynfarb, who shared Zionist views; Josek Słuszny, a Poalei Zion activist; as well as Pola, a member of the Bund. They all attacked the lecturer, having all come to the conclusion “that a person without party affiliation is not worthy of living on earth.”5

Jewish Art ceased its activity during a time of crisis in 1933. It was turned into a games and entertainment club.6

In April 1935, some of the members left the board of the society. Supplemental elections were called. The disagreements among the activists, however, were very deep. In June 1935 the general meeting of members ended in a brawl. On 6 September 1935, as the result of internal conflicts, the Siedlce district administrator suspended the activity of the Yiddishe Kunst.7 After a certain time, activity was resumed. On 20 and 21 May 1936, the theatrical section put on two plays: Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen and The Stigma of Race by Ernst Toller. Both plays were seen by a total of 600 people.



It was founded in Siedlce on 14 April 1922. The goal of the association was the propagation of the Hebrew language as well as Jewish culture and education. The association worked to achieve these goals by founding and supporting shelters for children, preschools, and primary, secondary, and vocational schools; by providing pedagogical courses, courses to raise the skill level of working people, and extension courses. At the head of this society were Lewi Gutgeld, Szyja Celnik, Abram Szalom Engleder, Mejer Tenenbaum, Szyja Cukierman, and Sara Sukiennik. On 29 April 1937, in connection with the holiday of Lag Baomer, an out-of-town trip was organized for the pupils of the Tarbut school. This association was a branch of the Zionist Organization.8



The league came into being in 1924 and carried on cultural-educational work for seven years. Its headquarters were located in the offices of the Jewish Perec School. The chairman of ŻLOL was Menasze Czarnobroda and the secretary was Frydman. The league was a branch of the Jewish Folk Party [i.e., Folkists—ed.]. It organized evening classes in a variety of fields as well as papers and lectures. Polish authorities disbanded this association in 1931.9



This society came into being in Siedlce in 1934 and had its offices at 8 Szpitalna Street (currently Kochanowski Street). The society had as its aim “the propagation of the Hebrew language, culture, and education among the Jewish people in Poland in the religious-Orthodox spirit.”11 It was hoped that the realization of this goal would be achieved by conducting various kinds of courses, talks, lectures, trips, summer camps, and so forth. The Siedlce division had 30 members and was subordinated to the main offices in Warsaw. The society was a branch of the Organization of Orthodox Zionists “Mizrachi.” The board members were Szloma Pryzant, Dawid Morgensztern, Szmul Landsman, Szmul Jabłkowicz, Mordko-Michel Czarny, Szmul Goldsztejn, Szyja Zelkowicz, Moszko Szymon Mendel, Szoel Ajzenberg, and Mendel Ajzenberg.12 The association was in existence until 1939.



This society functioned as early as 1919 at 20 Długa Street and ran a drama club under the direction of Jakub Warszawski. It was reregistered in Siedlce on 25 August 1934. The society's offices were at 58 Piłsudski Street. The “Freiheit” Society had as its goal the “propagation of pure science and art among the Jewish masses and the support of physical education.”13 With this aim, it organized courses, talks, lectures, trips, sports clubs, and so forth. The composition of the Siedlce “Freiheit” board of directors was Fajwel Orensztein, Mordko-Boruch Farbsztajn, Dawid Fajgenbaum, Hersz-Abram Wajsman, and Gdale Mocny. On 7 February 1937, a meeting attended by 30 people took place at which a new board was elected. It consisted of Chaim Kamienny, chairman; Chaim Kisielewski, secretary; and Motel Woda, treasurer. The society was a branch of the Right Poalei Zion Party.14



This group was also called the League of Proletarian Culture or the League of Jewish Culture. The association was formed in 1917 in Kiev and was under the influence of the Bund. This organization came into being in Poland thanks to an understanding among leftist circles that cooperated with CISZO (Central Jewish School Organization). Its beginnings went back to 1922, but it was officially registered as an all-Poland organization in 1926. Its foundational assumption was to unite cultural activists of various views and act under the guidance of trade unions. Its goal was the “development and dissemination of Jewish culture of all branches of human creativity, such as literature, art, music, theater, and so forth, and aid in the building of all manner of cultural and educational institutions.”15

The “Kultur Liga” Association functioned in Siedlce during the 1930s and had 80 members. It was located at 28 Kiliński Street. Its board was made up of Beniamin Kramarz, Hersz Rubinsztejn, Majer Frydman, and Minda Szapiro. The association was a branch of the Bund.16 It organized a talk by J. Pat from Warsaw on 25 May 1935 titled “Zionism and Socialism,” which was attended by 400 people.



This group is also known as the League of Working Palestine. It was an institution called upon to coordinate the organizations supporting the Zionist labor movement in Palestine. Its beginnings were provided by the Committee for a Working Palestine, which starting in 1923 began forming the Histadrut, the center for trade unions in Palestine. The first convention of the organizations functioning outside Palestine took place after the Thirteenth World Zionist Congress in 1923. In Poland its development fell to the late 1920s. It was formed from the following parties and organizations: Right Poalei Zion, Hitachdut, Hashomer Hatzair, Hechlutz, and Dror. Its central offices were in Warsaw, with branches in outlying areas. In reality it was a leftist bloc of mutually supporting Zionists groups.

In Siedlce, only the Society of Friends of Working Palestine was active, registered 30 April 1935 with offices at 53 Piłsudski Street. The league initially had 40 members, but in 1937 it already had 70. Szlomo Kamieński and Lejzor Srebrnik were activists. There was great interest in its activity. The meeting called for 8 April 1935, at which the policy goal was presented, was attended by 700 people. The next meeting took place 20 July 1935. Stolarski from Warsaw at that time gave the lecture “Before the Nineteenth Zionist Congress.” On 6 August 1935, the society organized a celebration to honor the tenth anniversary of the death of the well-known promoter and social activist Józef Słuszny. The program consisted of speeches and musical compositions. Zamwel Rozenzumen, among others, took the floor. The celebrations gathered together 80 participants. On 8 May 1937, Michel Warszmitel from Warsaw gave a lecture titled “The Problems of Communal Jewish Life in Palestine.” In his presentation, which was listened to by about 100 people, he presented an extensive discussion of the issue of the immigration of Jews to Palestine. Then on 29 May 1937, Rozenzumen gave an extensive lecture in Siedlce about Dov Ber Borokhov as an expert in Jewish philology and economics and also discussed Jewish–Arab relations and the role of the British government in Palestine. On 30 June 1937, the Society of Friends of Working Palestine called a meeting at which the organization of a shoemakers union under the aegis of the society was discussed. There were about 200 people present. During the discussion, Boim Liwerant, Srul Garnek, Abram Murawa, and others caused a commotion and called upon those present to refuse to sign up for the emerging union. In this situation, the chairman adjourned the meeting. The supporters of the Bund and the Communists gathered in the courtyard of the property at 53 Piłsudski Street and there continued their stormy debate. As a result, the two sides decided to organize the shoemakers into two separate unions.17



This was a leftist Zionist youth organization of a pioneering nature, one of the few Jewish scouting organizations in the Second Republic. It could trace its beginnings to the Austrian partition and a while later started up in the Russian partition as well. It referred to the ethos of the Jewish guards, Hashomer, active in Palestine since 1909. Their goal was to protect Jewish settlers from attacks by Arabs. A founding congress of this organization in Poland was held in Częstochowa in 1917, and the World Federation Hashomer Hatzair was established in Gdańsk in 1924. In accordance with its principles, this was to be a “movement of national renaissance.” Its members, called shomrim, were obligated to support the Zionist movement, propagate the Hebrew language, and prepare for working the land in Palestine. The full realization of the program was aliyah, that is, departure for Palestine and work on kibbutzim (settlements, communities). In the first years of its existence, this organization underwent a rapid development. Then it started to evolve ideologically in the direction of Marxism. The highest authority was the congress of members or delegates and the Chief Command. The fundamental organizational units were the kvutza (group), pluga (company), and gdud (battalion). Hashomer Hatzair belonged to the League of Aid to Working Palestine as well as, with the retention of autonomy, to Hechalutz (Pioneer).

Hashomer Hatzair was organized in Siedlce in 1921 by Herszel Słuszny, who ran it for many years. His assistants were Małka Lewin, Jehuda Liwerant, Dawid Jon-Tow, Bunin Czarnobroda, and Josef Kapcan. This organization brought together school children from various environments. It instilled in its members the principles of mutual aid. It organized fund raisers for the purchase of books and school supplies for members who came from impoverished families. The place where they played, met, and paraded was the woods in Roskosz. During vacations, camps were organized in neighboring villages.18 On 11 June 1932, a meeting of scouts was held from Siedlce, Łuków, Węgrów, and Sokołów Counties. One hundred twenty scouts gathered at 58 Piłsudski Street. They then went to Wólka, where they did sports exercises under the direction of Dorfman, a member of the Chief Command in Warsaw. Other command members, Abram Rowicki and Dawid Rozenbaum, met with a group of 30 candidates for departure to Palestine. From 8 to 16 January 1936, a trip to Domanice was organized in which 55 scouts participated. They were housed in private homes. Sports exercises took place every day.

The board that was elected at the meeting on 13 June 1936 consisted o f Chaim Begagon, chairman; Ber Lederman, vice-chairman; Uszer Trzmielina, treasurer; and Chana Gropman, secretary.19



This association was also called Captain Josef Trumpeldor Scouting Association. From the very beginning, in 1923, this was a Zionist youth organization connected with the revisionist Zionists and headed by Vladimir Jabotinsky. It referred to scouting models, although it was not recognized by the ZHP [Polish Scouting Organization—trans.]. Its ideological patron was Josef Trumpeldor.20

At the head of the national Brit Trumpeldor structure was the Chief Command, to which were subordinated districts and nests, consisting of troops, which in turn were divided into platoons and sections. Members gained the following ranks in turn: private, private-instructor, corporal, patrol leader, section leader, platoon leader, and troop leader. This was a coeducational organization. There were three age groups in troops: 8–13, kfirim (lion cubs); 13–18, tzofim (scouts), and over 18, kshishim (seniors)

Brit Trumpeldor decidedly opposed the idea of class struggle, which led to harsh disputes with leftist Zionist organizations. The main emphasis was placed on educational activity and strict discipline, thus preparing members for participation in Jewish self-defense. The first world congress of this association, which before the outbreak of World War II had about 100 thousand members in 26 countries, was organized in 1931 in Gdańsk. The largest organization was in Poland.
In Siedlce the association was led by Dawid Morgensztern, and its offices were in the house at 10 Asłanowicz Street. It had 40 members in 1932. The board consisted of Uszer Finkielsztejn, chairman; Uszer Sokołowski, secretary; Chil Dugecki, treasurer; Izaak Skała, administrator; and Froim Goldsztejn, member.21 On 21 July 1935 a lecture was organized titled “Development of Life in Palestine.” The lecturer was Jakow Piekar from Warsaw. There were 350 people in the audience. At the invitation of Beitar, Vladimir Jabotinsky came to Siedlce on 21 August 1935. He gave a lecture titled “On the Eve of a New Epoch in the Zionist Movement.” As many as 1,000 people came to the meeting with him. The next mass meeting called by Brit Trumpeldor took place on 17 July 1937. It was organized in the courtyard of 20 Kiliński Street as a protest rally against the planned division of Palestine. As many as 1,000 people participated in it. It was lead by Dawid Morgensztern from Siedlce and Menuchim Biegun [Polish name of Menachem Begin—trans.] from Warsaw. A protest resolution was approved, which was to be sent to the League of Nations in Geneva, the British government, and the MSZ [Ministry of Foreign Affairs—trans.] in Warsaw. The members of this association organized a memorial ceremony in the synagogue on 30 May 1938 in honor of Ben Josef, who had died in Palestine.22 There were about 800 people present. The next meeting dedicated to Ben Josef took place on 6 August 1938 at the Protection of Jewish Orphans building, at which the speaker, Dr. Lipman from the Central Zionist Committee, read a paper titled “Ben Josef's Death and Jabotinsky's Passivity.” One hundred fifty people participated in the meeting, mostly young people between the ages of 15 and 25. Referring to the situation in Palestine, Dr. Lipman said, “Marshal Piłsudski won a free Poland with the blood of the legionnaires, not with diplomatic or paper exchanges of platitudes.”23



This organization began its activity on 19 March 1935. The scouts' headquarters was located at 30 Kiliński Street. The goal of the organization was “to propagate and practice scouting according to the system of Gen. Baden Powell among Jewish youths” as well as “to raise the mental and physical condition of these same youths.”24

This organization was officially registered under the condition that it not engage in its activity on school property or recruit its troops from among school children. The leadership consisted of Meir Grynfarb, Pełtyl Celnikier, Mojżesz Międzyrzecki, Jakow Jon-Tow, Stanisław Gilgun, and Natan Belfor. The members of the organization did not have the right to vote; all positions were held by nomination, which was normal practice in scouting. It had 20 members, who paid dues in the amount of 50 grosz a month.25

Shortly after its registration, the authorities rescinded agreement for its functioning since the founder of this organization, Dr. Nisan [Natan] Belfor, was suspected of espionage.



The Workers Association of Esperantists in Siedlce was founded on 18 July 1932. It had its headquarters in the apartment of Szymon Wakierman at 51 Piłsudski Street. The association had as its goal the study of the artificial language Esperanto, which was created by Ludwik Zamenhof.26 It started out with 50 members but grew considerably in subsequent years. Its board consisted of Dawid Grynfarb (age 44, musician, activist in Left Poalei Zion), Szymon Wakierman (age 22, tailor, activist in Right Poalei Zion), Regina Herszberg (age 22, seamstress, activist in Right Poalei Zion), Josef Pasternak (age 26, sales employee, activists in Communist Union of Polish Youth [KZMP—trans.]), Menachem Morgenstern (age 20, student, activist in Hechalutz—Pioneer), Srul Liwerant (age 27, librarian, Communist), Szyja Zonszejn (age 21, tailor, sympathizer of KZMP), Hersz Czerkiewicz (age 23, gaiter maker, activist in Left Poalei Zion), Izaak Rydel (age 26, office worker, Zionist), and Szymon Rafał (age 22, tailor, activist in Left Poalei Zion). The majority of board members held leftist views.



In 1934 the Bund made an attempt to form the “Morning Prayer” Workers Physical Education Association. Those chosen for the board were Noe Blumsztejn, chairman (shoemaker); Beniamin Kramrz, secretary (office worker); Icko Zamieczkowski, treaturer (merchant), Szyja Mejer, vice-chairman (locksmith); Lander Epelbaum, member (shoemaker); Dawid Blustejn, member (carpenter); and Lejbno Gnajona, member (shoemaker). The authorities did not permit the registration of “Morning Prayer,” claiming that the association might fall under the influence of Communism and manifest Communist activity.27



The Protection of Jewish Orphans in Siedlce was a branch of the Central Association for the Care of Jewish Children and Orphans in Warsaw, which went under the acronym CESTONDZ. The goal of the association was the material and moral care for Jewish children and orphans. This goal derived from deep-seated religious dictates. The association was a legal person and was supported by the dues of its members, as well as contributions and donations, income derived from its estate, and through government and self-government grants and subsidies. The association's governing bodies were the General Meeting of Branch Members, the Branch Board, and the Auditing Committee. All elections and resolutions of the General Meeting were passed by a simple majority of votes. The Branch Board consisted of from 3 to 15 members and from 3 to 6 assistants, according to the resolution of the General Meeting. The board was elected for a period of one year and elected from among its members a chairman, secretary, and treasurer.

The Central Association of Care in Warsaw was registered in 1924, and its Siedlce branch was created in 1927. The initiative for the construction of the building for the orphanage came from activists of the local Zionist Organization, which had its headquarters at 26 Kiliński Street. Dawid Rubinstein became the chairman of the committee to construct the home for orphans. He was aided in this endeavor by Uszer Orzeł, Mojżesz Ajzensztat, Szmuel Cukier, and Abram Bresler. The orphanage building was built at 59 Sienkiewicz Street. Currently this building is in the possession of the Podlasie Academy.
The chairman of the construction committee formally transferred the building and the mortgage to the community council on 27 March 1927. The transfer took place with the stipulation that the community council could not change the intended use of the building. The final cost of the home was probably 57,600 zlotys, for that was the security on the mortgage. The construction committee probably could not handle such a large investment, and the religious council had to take over the matter.

During the functioning of the home, the composition of the Board of Directors of the Protection of Orphans was Alter Kamiński, Binem Rotenberg, Dawid Konopny, Srul Cukier, and Jankiel Jon-Tow.

The functioning of the orphanage during the 1930s was described by Ida Jom-Tow:

We had a large Jewish orphanage in Siedlce. In 1933, when Hitler came to power, he expelled from Germany many Jews who had not been born there. One day, a train filled with Jewish children crossed the border; they were to be housed in over a dozen orphanages. My mother was one of the people who met this train and brought about 14–15 children to our orphanage. The orphanage was collecting money, and once a year it held a large ball in order to collect funds. It also received aid from the Jewish Community Council and from the government. I went there often. The children were well cared for. The home was very clean, and the children had good food, better than in some homes. The children lived there and went to school until they turned 16. It was expected that they would become independent at that age, but they visited the home on holidays and Shabbat. Once a year my mother would go to Łódź, which was a textile center, and visit factories to obtain fabric for the orphanage. The women sewed sheets, pillowcases, and uniforms for the children out of this cloth.28

In September 1939 there were 106 children in the orphanage as well as elderly people needing care. When the city was briefly occupied by the Red Army, these children were evacuated. They were placed in Mińsk, in Belarus, and after the Germans attacked the USSR, they were taken into the depths of the country. Their subsequent fate is unknown.



The name “Ezrath Yethomim” Society was also used informally, although it was also used in correspondence with the authorities. The association implemented the goal stated in its name and engaged in helping run the orphanage. In 1933 it had about 70 members. In February 1933, the board of directors consisted of Uszer Orzeł, chairman (merchant); Jankiel Jon-Tow (merchant); Aron Jabłoń (merchant); Lejb Wajnsztejn (merchant); Hersz Rozengarten (merchant); and Chaja Tenenbaum. The Auditing Committee consisted of Munysz Rydel (merchant), Jozef Rozenzumen (office worker), and Szyja Cukier (merchant). Sura Szajnberg, Dawid Zonszajn, Szmul Wurman, Szyja Ekierman, Mejer Strzałka, Aron Breszler, and Dawid Rozenberg were vigorous activists in the association.29 The association organized a concert of religious songs on 6 October 1934 with the participation of E. Kieszkowski from Warsaw. The concert attracted about 120 people, and the income was allocated for statutory goals.



This committee came into being in 1934. The Civil Committee consisted of Maksymilian Schleicher, chairman; Uszer Orzeł, vice-chairman; and T. Kramarz, secretary. The committee ran a propaganda campaign with the goal of informing society about the importance of access to the sea for Poland as well as of raising money for the Fund for Protection of the Sea.30



This circle organized a recitation soiree on 28 March 1937 participated in by Chana Braz from Warsaw. She was listened to by 250 people.



This committee engaged in the activity indicated by its name. On 23 September 1923, it issued a proclamation with the following content:

To the Jewish Population of Siedlce. The Jewish student who arrives from the provinces to study in Warsaw is deprived of a roof over his head. The housing shortage subjects him to physical and spiritual suffering, and more than one student has had to abandon the university bench for this reason. With the aim of relieving this anguish of the Jewish student, a Committee has been formed in Warsaw in whose makeup are Jewish activists who are the most respected and the most dedicated to this cause. This committee has as its goal the building of a home for the Jewish student in Warsaw. Similar committees have been formed in all the cities and towns of Poland where there is need for a healthy Jewish intelligentsia, where a spiritual bond exists with university youths acquiring an education. Full of enthusiasm and dedication, these people are working on the building of a University Hostel in Warsaw, and the broad masses of Jewish society are showing a generosity this time that borders on sacrifice and that is filled with understanding for this sacred civic cause. One can say with all certainty and determination that Polish Jewry will be able to build this house for its student. In connection with this campaign, the [Siedlce] Committee for Aid to Jewish Students has been reorganized and, making aid to and cooperation in the building of a Jewish University Hostel in Warsaw its top mission, is organizing in the very near future a whole series of fundraisers, concerts, and dances, certain that Siedlce will not remain behind other cities and will in equal measure as all the cities in Poland contribute with a generous hand to the building of a roof over the head of the homeless Jewish student.31



The only thing that has been established is that on 30 July 1936 it organized a public collection for the statutory goals of the society.



The beginnings of this organization go back to 1912. At that time, the Obshchestvo Zdravookhraneniya Yevreev [Russian] was founded in St. Petersburg. Until 1921 the headquarters of the society were located in there, and then they were moved to Berlin. After the First World War, its branches sprang up in various countries, mostly in Europe, and from 1923, in all the larger cities of Poland. TOZ [for Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia in Polish—trans.] set itself the goal above all of preventive action, concentrated on preventing the spread of eye diseases, skin diseases, and tuberculosis. It handed out periodical literature and brochures popularizing the foundations of medical knowledge and the principles of hygiene.

The Health Care Society was founded in Siedlce in 1923 on the initiative of Dr. Maksymilian Schleicher, who took on the function of chairman. Members of the society were Sz. Englender (secretary), Jehoszua Ekerman, H. Halbersztat, Henryk Loebel, Josef Alberg, A. Marki, Lam, Mosze Czarnobroda, and Madl. TOZ provided medical care in all the Jewish schools. It fought against illnesses that were widespread, especially among children, such as scabies, lice, fungal infections, and tuberculosis. It arranged for medical checkups for children and treatment for the sick. Complicated cases were referred to Warsaw clinics, and children with allergies were sent to sanatoriums. The society taught preventive medicine and held camps and day camps for poor children. It owned a health center in the village of Kisielany-Żmichy outside Siedlce. In 1925, a Women's Circle was formed, which arranged for midmorning snacks in Jewish schools. This snack consisted of a roll and a glass of milk or chocolate milk. The Women's Circle cooperated closely with TOZ. The circle included Mrs. Schleicher (the wife of Dr. Schleicher, as chairperson), Estera Zalman, Fela Orzeł, Pua Rabinowicz, Lam, Tabakman, and others.32 TOZ provided 40 percent of the financing of the Jewish hospital, where in 1932 a gynecological ward was created under the direction of Doctor Henryk Loebel and an internal medicine ward under the supervision of Doctor Głazowski. The activists of TOZ carried on work in preventive medicine, which was intended to inform the people of ways to protect against illness and how to keep one's home clean. With this goal, meetings were held at which local doctors gave talks and medical advice. Well-known doctors from Warsaw were also brought in, such a Dolman and Lewin. The foundations of the Society's budget were membership dues paid by 800 people, as well as income from events and subsidies from the community council and from the central office in Warsaw.



This social organization arose in Warsaw in July 1926 at the initiative of Aleksander Dubrowicz and the Organizational Committee. The goal of the society was the awakening of esthetic feelings in Jews, the physical rebirth of the Jewish nation, the exploration of Jewish historical landmarks, and the propagation of interest in folklore. Mention of it was made in Siedlce in 1934.<



This was a women's aid organization created by Zionists in London in 1920. Its main goal was the building of an independent Palestine. Autonomous divisions were created in Poland from 1925. It is mentioned in Siedlce in the situational report of the county administrator in 1934.



This association is only mentioned in the Siedlce district administrative records. Further information is unavailable.


24. Central Jewish Committee on Emigration to America, Society (Division) in Siedlce

Its headquarters were in the premises of the Mutual Credit Society on Warszawska Street. The board consisted of Józef Turin, Mojżesz Wołowelski, and Nechemja Malin. This society was disbanded by the Siedlce district administration on 20 October 1921. In spite of this, as can be concluded from a police report, it continued to carry on its activity.33



This organization was treated by its founders as a kind of religious order. The founders of this religious order wished to unite the divided fragments of Jewish society, basing themselves on the ethical principles of Judaism and on the intellectual values of Jewish culture. This organization was created on 13 October 1843 in the United States. Its guiding motto was “Charity, love, and brotherly harmony.” The first lodge in Europe was created in 1882 in Berlin. On Polish territory, the first “B'nai B'rith” lodges arose at the end of the nineteenth century in the Prussian partition (Katowice 1883) and the Austrian partition (Bielsko 1889). Lodges were created in the former Russian partition only after Poland regained its independence (Warsaw 1922). In the early period, the ideology of the order contained ideas convergent with the principles of Masonry. In a later period, the order was connected with the Zionist movement. Its representative in Siedlce was Dr. Henryk Loebel. His name figures in the society's Address Book, which was published in Kraków in 1937.34 An independent lodge most likely did not arise in Siedlce since it did not have the requisite 20 members. They could have been part of the Warsaw lodge called “Brotherhood,” which in 1937 had 118 members. The activity of “B'nai B'rith” in Poland was interrupted by a decree of the president of the republic on 22 November 1938 disbanding Masonic organizations.

In all these associations the governing boards were elected democratically; members had passive and active voting rights. Each association was a branch of a political party, which tried to influence the community and gain supporters through cultural-educational work. The most active society was Jewish Art.



The Jewish Union of the Physical Fitness and Athletics Society arose in Siedlce in 1921. Its offices were on Długa Street (currently Bishop I. Świrski Street). The goal of the union was to propagate sports among Jewish youth, so a soccer team, Maccabi, was formed. The following Zionist activists were members of the board: Hersz Słuszny, Ela Frydman, and Aron Grynberg. In addition to the soccer team, there was also the Maccabi Athletic Society, called into being in 1922 by the Zionist Organization. It was divided into two groups. The first was led by Hersz Słuszny, a pupil at the public secondary school. This group contained about 30 pupils from the upper classes. The second group was led by Leon Halbersztadt and was composed of young people between the ages of 8 and 16. It had about 40 members and was divided into three platoons having the names of Jewish heroes: Eliezer, Bar Kochba, and Samson.35 The members of the society trained according to the military model. Poalei Zion also created the Maccabi Club, which had 40 members. The club's instructors were Moszek Rowald, Felzenstein, and Abraham Weistman. Athletic training took place on the military field.

During the Second Republic, there were a few more athletic clubs in Siedlce. The best known was the Jewish Athletic Club “Kadimah” (Forward). Dr. Leon Głazowski acted as its chairman, and Anatol Goldberg was the director. Active on the club's board were Natan Halbersztat, Benjamin Bronsztejn, Chlejb Kimdraj, Benjamin Halbersztadt, Jankiel Trzebuski, Tadeusz Kramarz, Dawid Jedwab, Matys Gursztejn, Szmul Nusbaum, and Dr. Henryk Loebel. Kadimah ran the following sections: soccer (this was the best Jewish team in Siedlce), cycling (in 1927 in had about 50 competitors), tennis, table tennis, basketball, and boxing. The number of members could have been as high as about 100 people.

The Jewish Workers' Athletic Club “Hapoel” (Worker) was also vigorously active. At first it was a division of the Hechalutz organization, but from 1 September 1933 it became independent and had 150 members. Besides athletic competitions, it also put on theatrical performances, for example, on 8 April 1936 it put on the play Unser Glojben [Our Faith] by Sholem Asch; on 2 April 1937 it organized a performance with Jacek Lewi from Warsaw that had an audience of 180. In September 1935, before the Sejm elections, National Party militants threw hand-made petards into the theater. Fortunately, they did not cause any serious damage.36 In December 1937, the board consisted of Benjamin Czarny, chairman; Mojżesz Zylberman, secretary; and Srul Góra, treasurer; they were all sympathizers or members of Right Poalei Zion. Kadimah and Hapoel were Zionist clubs.

Siedlce also had a soccer team called Hakoah [Hebrew for “Power”—ed.] and the popular left-leaning Star, whose proper name was “Stern” (Star) Workers' Physical Education Association. The players of Star appeared in red shirts, the club's color, which had 50 members. These teams competed among themselves and with other Siedlce teams, both Jewish and Polish, of which there were over a dozen. The cycling division of Kadimah organized bicycle rallies around the country and to Palestine. Sports in Siedlce in those years, especially soccer and cycling, had many followers.

The “Shomria” (Watch) Jewish Athletic Club was also mentioned. Further information about it has not been able to be found.

There was also the “Eva” Women's Athletic Club. It had at least 25 members. There were three divisions: gymnastics, track and field, and ping-pong. The general meeting of the club took place on 21 January 1933. It was run by [Miss]a Regina Malin, the chairperson of the meeting. The secretary was [Miss] Hania Tabakman. [Miss] Zalcman gave a report on the activity of the current board. The treasurer, Miss Frydberman, explained the expenditure of 307 zlotys. The secretary, Miss Rapoport, discussed the correspondence with the Alliance of Jewish Women's Athletic Associations. In the discussion that ensued during the course of the meeting, [Miss] Epelbaum proposed more frequent meetings. A new board was elected: [Miss] Hania Tabakman, chairperson; [Miss] Ciwia Zalcsztejn, vice-chairperson; [Miss] Regina Malin, treasurer; [Miss] Ida Cukier, secretary; and Jenta Włodawska, member.37

Editor's Note, Chapter 7

  1. In Polish, “daughter of” is indicated by adding the suffix “-ówna” to the man's surname, just as “wife of” is indicated with the suffix “-owa” or “-anka.” Thus, Malin's daughter's surname would be Malinówna, and his wife's surname would be Malinowa. The wife of Goldberg would be Goldberżanka. I have opted to add “[Miss]” or “[Mrs.],” respectively, to the relevant names rather than using the suffix. The use of “Mrs.” without brackets indicates the author's use of the Polish equivalent, pani. The Polish equivalent of “Miss,” panna, is not generally used, except in reference to little girls Return

Author's Notes, Chapter 7

  1. Hartglas, Na pograniczu dwóch światów, p. 109. Return
  2. M. Mandelman, „The Library and the 'Jewish Art' Society,” in Book of Remembrance of the Siedlce Community, pp. 506–508; Kaspi, „Early History of the Jews in Siedlce,” pp. 155–156; Kaszyński and Tiliński, Gorod Sedlec, p. 119. Return
  3. The abbreviation arose in order to simplify the pronunciation of this work in colloquial speech. So the first letter, 'H', and the last letter, 'r', were dropped. Return
  4. Mandelman, „The Library and the 'Jewish Art' Society,” p. 507. Return
  5. APS, SPwS, sig. 8, p. 3. Return
  6. Sprawozdanie starosty siedleckiego o ruchu społecznym za rok 1926, Wydz. II Społ.-Pol. 1919–1939, UWL, APL, sig. 161, p. 14; L. P. Maksymiuk, Konsppiracja w Siedlcach w latach 1907–1914, typescript of master's thesis in the possession of National Archive in Siedlce, p. 62; APS, Siedlecki Powiatowy Zarząd Żandarmerii, sig. 304, pp. 18, 105, 109, 127–129. Return
  7. APS, SPwS 1918–1939, sig. 23, 26–35. Return
  8. Żydowskie Stowarzyszenie Kulturalno-Oświatowe “Tarbut,” Wydz. II Społ.-Pol. 1919–1939, UWL, APL, sig. 1118, pp. 3, 5; APS, SPwS, sig. 27, fol. 51. Return
  9. Stowarzyszenie pn. „Żydowska Liga Oświaty Ludowej,” Wydz. II Społ.-Pol. 1919–1939, UWL, APL, sig. 1115, pp. 3, 31–32; T. Moniewski, Siedlce (Siedlce, 1929), p. 61. Return
  10. Yavneh—a town in which a well-known Talmudic academy was to be found. Return
  11. Żydowskie Stowarzyszenie Kulturalno-Oświatowe “Jawne,” Siedlce branch, Second Social-Political Division 1919–1939, UWL, APL, sig. 1117, p. 2 (Statute point 1). Return
  12. Ibid., pp. 2, 13, 64–66. Return
  13. Stowarzyszenie Kulturalno-Oświatowe „Freiheit,” oddział w Siedlcach, Wydz. II Społ.-Pol.1919–1939, UWL, APL, sig. 1116, p. 1 (Statute article 2). Return
  14. Ibid., p. 1–8, 31–32; APS, SPwS 1918–1939, sig. 27, fol. 27. Return
  15. Polski Słownik Judaistyczny. Dzieje. Kultura. Religia. Ludzie (Warsaw, 2003), vol. 1, p. 845. Return
  16. Monografia Stronnictwa Politycznego „Bund”—Algemeiner Jidysz Arbeter in Pojlen—Ogólnożydowski Związek Robotniczy Bund w Polsce, sig. 460, p. 35. Return
  17. APS, SPwS, sig. 27, pp. 73–74. Return
  18. Ibid., p. 346; Sprawozdanie starosty siedleckiego o ruchu społecznym za rok 1926, Wydz. II Społ.-Pol. 1919–1939, UWL, APL, sig.161, p. 23. Return
  19. APS, SPwS 1918–1939, sig. 25, fol. 59, 95. Return
  20. Josef Trumpeldor (1880 Pyatigorsk–1920 Tel-Hai)—Zionist leader and organizer of Jewish self-defense in Palestine. After completing a religious school in Rostov and then a Russian school, he studied stomatology. The social concepts of Lev Tolstoy made a deep impression on him. Under his influence, he supported the creation in Palestine of Jewish agricultural communes that could, when needed, provide their own armed defense. In 1902 he began his military service and was sent to the Japanese front. In 1906, he was awarded an officer's rank, in spite of being a Jew, and was distinguished with many medals. Subsequently he started studying law at the university in St. Petersburg. There he gathered a group of people who shared his views, and in 1912 they left together for Palestine. After the outbreak of World War I, he refused to accept Turkish citizenship and was exiled to Egypt. There he tried to form a Jewish Legion as the rudiment of a Jewish armed force. He went to Russia in the summer of 1917 to try to convince the Provisional Government of the need to create Jewish divisions in the Russian army. He was chosen as commissar of matters pertaining to Jewish soldiers. After the outbreak of the October Revolution, he was briefly arrested. Then he worked on behalf of creating a Hechalutz organization in Russia and became its first chairman in 1919. He supported military training for members of the movement and tried to create training and emigration centers. In 1919 he returned to Palestine, where he organized Jewish self-defense in Upper Galilee. That is where he died. He became a national symbol and hero for Zionists of both the right and the left, especially for youth organizations. Return
  21. APS, SPwS 1918–1939, sig. 15, fol. 83. Return
  22. Ben Josef Szlomo (Szulim Tabacznik)—a fighter in Brit Trumpeldor. In his early youth he became connected with revolutionaries and join Beitar. He arrived in Palestine illegally in 1937. The following year he took part in a retaliatory attack on an Arab bus. Even though no one died, he was the only one of the participants in the action who was sentenced to death. His execution provoked world-wide protests. He became a symbol of the battle for the right of Jews to have their own country and a martyr of the Zionist movement. Return
  23. APS, SPwS 1918–1939, sig. 29, fol 47. Return
  24. Stowarzyszenie Hanoar Haiwri—„Akiba”—Żydowska Organizacja Skautowa „Akiba” w Siedlcach, Wydz. II Społ.-Pol. 1919–1939, UWL, APL, sig. 1133, p. 5 (Statute par. 2). Return
  25. Ibid., sig. 1133, pp. 2–8. Return
  26. Ludwik Zamenhof was born in 1859 in Białystok and died in Warsaw in 1917. He was educated as a doctor. Even as a child, he dreamed of creating a language that everyone could use regardless of their nationality. In one of his letters, he wrote, “I was raised as an idealist, taught that all people are brothers, while on the street and in the yard everything at every step showed me that people do not exist, there are only Russians, Poles, Germans, Jews, and so on. This constantly tormented my childhood soul. […] Because at that time I believed that adults possessed some kind of all-mighty power, I kept repeating to myself that when I am big, I will without fail eliminate this evil.” In July 1887, the first textbook of the Esperanto language appeared in Warsaw under the title International Language. The author published it under the pseudonym Dr. Esperanto, which means, “he who is hopeful.” Toward the end of the nineteenth century, textbooks for the study of this language appeared in Russia, Romania, Great Britain, and Spain. As years went by, the Esperanto language gained supporters in other countries as well. The First World Congress of Esperantists took place in 1905. From that year congresses are held every year. The years of the Second World War were an exception. German Nazis deemed Esperanto to be an “undesirable language,” and Esperantists were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Return
  27. Stowarzyszenie Robotnicze Wychowania Fizycznego “Jutrznia” w Siedlcach, Wydz. II Społ.-Pol. 1919–1939, UWL, APL, sig. 1190, p. 6. Return
  28. I. Jom-Tow (Tenenbaum) [Ida Tenenbaum Yomtov], The Worst of Times (Najgorszy czas) (New Orleans, 2002), pp. 38–39. Return
  29. APS, SPwS 1918–1939, sig. 16, fol. 21–22. Return
  30. Życie Podlasia, no. 9 (1934). Return
  31. Łętocha, Messer, and Cała, Żydowskie druki ulotne w II Rzeczpospolitej w zbiorach Biblioteki Narodowej, fig. 85A, catalogue entry 339. Return
  32. M. Szleicher, „Działalność TOZ i Koła Kobiecego,” in Book of Remembrance of the Siedlce Community, pp. 449–453. Return
  33. APS, KPPPS, sig. 58, fol. 151. [This committee was most likely a division of HIAS.—ed.] Return
  34. For more on this subject, see Archiwum Związku Żydowskich Stowarzyszeń Humanitarnych “B'nei B'rith” w Krakowie (182–1938), comp. Bogusława Czajecka (Kraków: Jagiellonian University, 1994). Return
  35. Eljezer/Eleazar/Hebrew Elazar—literally means „God is my help.” It is a name that often appears in the Bible. Among others, it was the son of Aaron, who led the Israelites to the Promised Land and then directed the division of the conquered lands. Bar Kochba—the leader of the Jewish uprising against the Romans in 132–135 CE. The reason for the uprising was Caesar Hadrian's demand to build the city of Aelia Capitalina on the ruins of Jerusalem with a temple to Jupiter on the spot of the old Holy Temple of Jerusalem, as well as a ban on circumcision. The insurrectionists, in spite of early successes, were defeated, and the Jews were driven out of Jerusalem and Palestine. A time began for them of living in diaspora, dispersion.
    Samson—a strongman, hero of many folk tales. As one who was consecrated to God, he was endowed with unusual strength, which resided in his hair. He led an adventurous life. He was betrayed and given over to his enemies by Delilah. The Philistines blinded him and forced him to do heavy labor. Set up to be the laughing stock of the crowds, he took advantage of his strength, which returned when his hair grew out, and destroyed his enemy's temple, perishing with them in its rubble. Return
  36. APS, SPwS 1918–1939, sig. 23, fol. 122. Return
  37. Sprawozdanie starosty siedleckiego o ruchu społecznym za rok 1926, Wydz. II Społ.-Pol. 1919–1939, UWL, APL, sig.161, p. 23; Moniewski, Siedlce, p. 67; J. Garbaczewski, “Kolarstwo na Podlasiu,” in Tygodnik Siedlecki, no. 27 (1988); Relacje mieszkańców Siedlec: Izaaka Halbera I Marii Żyburowej, APS, SPwS 1918–1939, sig. 17, fol. 22. Return


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