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[Pages 119-128]





The aspirations and interests of all Jewish parties clashed in the community council. It was a peculiar field of battle. Up to 1926, the Siedlce community council did not have much of an influence on the social life of Jews in Siedlce. The community council building was located next to the synagogue. Up until that year, it was managed by Herszel Tenenbojm (secretary) and Icchak Tenenbojm. Their work consisted of registering newly born children and crossing off the dead from the registry. The community council tax supported the rabbi, who was Gaon Chaim Ginzburg. He held his office in Siedlce from 1908 to 1930. Israel Gutgeld, clerk of the community council, worked toward having that body receive a percentage from kosher butchers. Kosher butchers, however, did not agree to perform their work for a specific wage. They preferred to work independently and to give the community council a small percentage of their proceeds. Kosher butchers performed the slaughter of meat according to strictly defined rules, having as their goal, among other things, the removal of blood, since its consumption is strictly forbidden by religious law. The Burial Society (Chevra Kadisha, literally Holy Society) and the Society of Last Rites (Nosei Hamita, literally Carriers of the Bed [or Bier—ed.]) were also not subordinated to the community council, and members of these societies set their own fees for their services, in this way taking advantage of those who needed their help. The Society of Last Rites fulfilled an important function. Before its founding, the deceased was taken to the cemetery on a wagon. If a wealthy person or a political activist died, he was carried to the cemetery by his friends and acquaintances, and the wagon drove next to them. At the funeral of a poor Jew, the deceased was driven on a wagon, and often he was not accompanied by the ten pious Jews necessary to perform the burial liturgy.

It was for this reason that a group of pious Jews created the Society of Last Rites, so that they might take all the deceased to the cemetery. Members of the board of the Society of Last Rites were Mosz Szmuklarz, Arie Galicki, Icchak Rozengarten, Mordechaj Górnicki, Berl Srebrnik, Mosze Folszpan, Naftali Kuperszmit, and Rachmil Kewin.1 The burial of women was handled by a separate committee.

One source of the community council's income was the community council tax. Of the 4,000 Jewish families living in Siedlce, only 360 paid the tax. The council's employees did not want to increase the number of taxpayers because each taxpayer had the right to vote for the community council executive board. The Zionists carried out propaganda campaigns whose goal was to expand the number of taxpayers in order thereby to limit the influence of the Agudah and increase their own.

On 20 November 1925, the community council published an announcement in which the Siedlce rabbinate warned that the fowl sold in some butcher shops and stores might not come from ritual slaughter. Clients should check whether the fowl is provided with a seal from the Jewish Religious Council with the date of slaughter.2

It was only in 1926 that elections to the community council were ordered. Men over the age of 21 had the right to vote even if they did not pay taxes. Zionists, the Agudah, Mizrachi, Folkists, and trade workers took part in the elections. The Bund and the Left Poalei Zion boycotted the elections because of a paragraph that barred nonreligious Jews from voting. Every effort was being made to retain the religious character of the community council. In every Chassidic prayer house, and there were several dozen of them in Siedlce, proclamations were hung with an appeal to vote for the Agudah. Of the 20 members of the Community Council Board, the Agudah received 10 seats, that is, 50 percent, and did not receive a majority. The Zionists received 4 seats and the trade workers 4, of whom 3 were Zionist activists and 1 a sympathizer, so for all practical purposes the Zionists had 8 seats, the Folkists had 1 seat, and Mizrachi, 1. The Agudah was represented on the Community Council Board by Jakow Szczerański, Szymon Ridel, Mosze Śliwka, Eliahu Tenenbojm, Sander Kantor, Bunem Huberman, Mosze Zakan, Israel Złotowski, Berisz Gorzałka, and Jakow Cukier; the Zionists, by Icchak Nachum Weintraub, Uszer Orzeł, Mosze Abe Ajzensztadt, and M. Schleicher; the trade workers, by Z. N. Malin, Szmuel Worman, Aharon Marecki, and Berl Srebrnik; the Folkists, by Josef Rozenzumen; and the Mizrachi, by W. Orłowski.3 Next in order, a 10-member management board had to be elected from the 20 members of the Community Council Board. Since the Mizrachi had no chance of seating their member on the board, it declined to vote, but then it took active part in voting for the chairman. In the board elections, the Agudah received 6 seats and the Zionists and trade workers 4. The Agudah members of the board were Israel Gutgeld, Efraim Halber, Berisz Jakubowicz, Tonia Szyfer, Joel Słuszny, and Oszer-Mosze Nelkienbojm. The Zionists and trade workers were Mosze Goldberg, Jehuda Woda, Natan Hersz Gursztajn, and Fiszel Popowski. At its first meeting, the board decided to elect a chairman. Icchak Nachum Weintraub was the candidate for this position for the Zionists, and Jakow Szczerański, for the Agudah. The Folkist and the Mizrachi supported the Zionist candidate in the voting for chairman, as a result of which the Zionists received 10 votes, the same number as the Agudah. The representative of the authorities present at this meeting supported Jakow Szczerański. The Zionists did not accept this decision. Israel Gutgeld was to take care of the proper functioning of the community council on behalf of the Agudah.

A budget was formulated that took into account only the religious needs of Jews. The Zionists, trade workers, and the Mizrachi delivered lengthy, endless speeches at the meetings of the board in order to prevent the approval of the budget. This situation lasted for several months, paralyzing the normal functioning of the community council. It finally came to blows, which ended with police intervention.4 The Siedlce county administrator put a stop to this situation by nullifying the previous nomination and demanding new elections. These resulted in the victory of the Zionist representative, Icchak Nachum Weintraub. A new budget was adopted that took into account additional financing of Hebrew language courses, help for immigrants heading for Palestine, support for the Perpetual Fund of Israel [Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael], whose goal was the purchase of land in Palestine for Jews. The needs of the Folkists were also taken into account, that is, additional funding for their school. A certain sum of money was allocated for aid to the Home for Orphans and Seniors. The community council brought the kosher butchers, the Burial Society, and the Society of Last Rites under their control. Only the Women's Committee of the Burial Society remained independent and voluntarily taxed itself for the benefit of the community council. The committee consisted of “soda water” Puria (chairperson), Chana Rybkowska, and Chana Popowska.

After setting its internal matters in order, the community council started its social activity. A Lending Bank was founded thanks to which the needy could get percentage-free loans of up to 200 zlotys. In subsequent years, cooperation between the Zionists and the Agudah went well, until the next election in 1933.5

The Executive Committee of the Jewish Religious Community Council approved a two-hour closing of Jewish stores and workshops as a sign of protest against the persecution of Jews in Germany. This strike was combined with the protest meeting in the synagogue. Four hundred people took part.6

The next elections for the Community Council Board took place in 1933. This time the Bund took part in them and received 4 seats. The Bund was represented by Josef Rozenzumen, Beniamin Kramarz, Josef Berg, and Jakub Icchak Lajbman.7 After these elections and the death of Rabbi Ginzburg, the Mizrachi wanted to hand this function over to a progressive rabbi. This was met with sharp opposition by the Agudah, which was interested in retaining its influence in Siedlce. The desire to bring a progressive rabbi to Siedlce caused harsh rivalry between the Agudah and other Jewish groupings. Finally, by a majority of Zionist and Mizrachi votes, Rabbi Zelman Soroczkin, the former rabbi in Łuck, was elected.8 The election of the rabbi was not acknowledged, and for a long time this important position in the community council was not filled. Internal conflicts led to resignation of the Agudah from the management board and executive committee in 1935 and its boycotting of the opening of the community council. The religious life of the orthodox was confined to individual houses of prayer rather than in the city synagogue.9

We can conclude from the list of houses of God10 active in Siedlce compiled 6 December 192211 that the oldest active house of prayer from 1800 functioned uninterruptedly until 1922 and most likely to the extermination of the Jewish community in 1942. Up until the year 1900, there were 7 houses of prayer active in the city, including the synagogue. From 1900 to 1917, another 18 came into being, and between 1918 and 1922, another 7. The combined number of seats in the synagogue, houses of worship, and houses of prayer was 4,352. As many as 32 houses of worship with such a large number of seats testify to the great piety of Siedlce Jews and to the fact that religion determined their lifestyle.

At the end of the 1930s, the community council as the representative of Jewish society started to exhibit ever broader activity. In May 1936, it criticized the management of the cinema Światowid for showing German films. The Siedlce county administrator in his report for November 1938 wrote:

The most recent proclamations and incidents in Germany are causing fear and depression among Jews. In connection with this, one hears among more reasonable Jews more and more often the view that it is essential to solve their problem on the international arena. In Siedlce, the Jewish Religious Council created a committee for bringing aid to Jews who are Polish citizens displaced from Germany. At the same time, the above-mentioned leaflets were issued. Due to the fact that the tasks of the committee did not correspond to the Polish raison d'ętre and the formation of the committee itself goes beyond the powers provided for Jew[ish] relig[ious] councils, I disallowed the activity of the committee. The issued leaflets were subject to seizure on the basis of art[icle] 170 of the Criminal Code (here document dated 30 November current year L.B. 10/38). The Executive Board of the Jew[ish] Relig[ious] Counc[il] and Management Board of Right Poalei Zion additionally planned to call for popular protest rallies against the edicts of the Government of the German Reich. Due to the possibility of unwanted demonstrations, I disallowed the above-mentioned rallies.12

The actions of the county administrator were undoubtedly the result of the policy that Poland was pursuing at the time. Several months before the attack on Poland, the national authorities were doing their utmost to maintain friendly relations with the Third Reich.

In 1938, the growth in anti-Semitic sentiments in the city was so evident that Stanisław Wąsowski decided to counter these sentiments by printing his own observations titled “Letters from Siedlce” in the newspaper Ziemia Siedlecka [In and Around Siedlce]. In one of them he wrote:

I received a letter with more or less the following content: in its concern for supporting Poles, the Management Board of the Polish Union asks me to take advantage of the services of Polish droshky drivers only, giving thereby a visible and inspiring example of helping one's own. […] At the bottom was a huge stamp of the Polish Union (of support for the Polish state of ownership in Siedlce)a and the signature, as the chairman, of one of the most pleasant and most popular Siedlce attorneys. The Judovorous psychosis never appealed to me, and I believed, and believe, that this whole anti-Semitic drive is a kind of disease or mania that arose against the background of an artificially aroused fear of Jews. If they, the Jews, were not able to deal with us when we were not free, then the current hatred of them threatens us with a certain reduction in culture, in which—alas!—our young people excel. There is apparently something in me that does not allow the hair on my head to rise or my knees to shake at the sight of Mr. Gutgeld or Mr. Rubinsztejn. I cannot find within me that panicky fear of them—although I have at times tried to arouse it in myself artificially . . . Unfortunately, nothing came of it! I can all the more so not arouse in myself that terrible, elemental hatred of Jewry that fills our national and clerical newspapers.

[…] So this letter took me aback. I remembered that our latest constitution, which is considered the testament of the Great Marshal [Piłsudski—trans.], says nothing of first- or second-class Polish citizens but rather subsumes everyone under one benchmark—citizen of the State. This is one objection, and a cardinal one. Another is a little malicious: Why does the pleasant and likeable chairman of the Polish Union, as an esteemed attorney, not show his own example and stop taking on the defense of Jewish cases?

I know what He and other gentlemen attorneys will say: money plays a role here. And I fully understand. But they are demanding that I completely forget about this money. Of the 53 droshkies in Siedlce, only 14 are Polish. […] I cannot ride with one constant Polish droshky driver because he might, after all, have a better and more profitable fare, say to Mokobody, to Mordy, to Łosice. And he will go there, and I'll be stuck. Moreover, if I will ride only with one Pole, then in an emergency the Jewish droshkies can refuse to take me (I have already experienced something of this!). Well, and Jewish droshkies are generally cheaper than Polish ones. And on Saturdays, when only Polish droshkies are available, you have to overpay the Polish droshky driver—and almost kiss his hand for him to deign to take you—because he feels that if there are 7 or 8 droshkies (because not all of them do day trips), then he will get a fare any minute that will pay him 5 zlotys at least.

[…] These are all details and trifles… But if someone else can look to his own advantage in relation to Poles and Jews, then let the physician also look to his own advantage. One cannot be more Catholic than the pope himself! I recall, speaking about the currant battle with the Jews, a certain fact, albeit an isolated one, that was described in his day as an authentic one by the recently departed, unforgettable Franciszek Godlewski.

In the village of Gródek [on the Bug River, Jabłonna Lacka Commune, Sokołów County—author's note], which belonged to him, there was a small Orthodox church, converted from a Uniate church, which in the rather large village of Gródek had one single, authentic Eastern Orthodox parishioner. The rest were Uniates, who, though officially classified as Eastern Orthodox, were fervently devoted to Catholicism. Weddings, christenings, and confessions were conducted in secret by emissary priests usually traveling in peasant garb. (I remember my mother showing me a store in the market square of Sokołów in which such a chaplain lived for a few years, by day a shoemaker soling the shoes of Sokołów townies and by night fulfilling his lofty service. He was betrayed and sent to the depths of Russia, from which he never returned!) And so one evening this kind of priest was to come to Gródek. But the Russian police got wind of something because from morning as many as three guards appeared in the village and started snooping around the whole village. The farmers, seeing that something was not right, went to the old Jew, the leaseholder Lejzor, to take council with him about what to do. The old Jew, born and raised in Gródek, buried in his old age in holy books, advised the farmers to gather at his place, since the police will look for the priest everywhere, but it will never occur to them to look for him in the home of a Jewish Chassid. That is what the farmers did. The priest arrived and in the alcove among holy Jewish books, by the light of a candle placed in a seven-armed candlestick, he performed his duties. The police, however, in spite of the night, noticed women sneaking toward the home of the leaseholder and at that moment broke into the home, where in the alcove they saw a figure in a surplice. But before the guards could make their way through the packed crowd of people to the alcove, the priest had thrown off his surplice, hidden his stole in his pocket, left the house by a side door, and rode away. In the meantime, old Lejzor donned the surplice and in the dark (the candle had been extinguished!) he stood like a white shadow that the guards were approaching. Everything was revealed when the lights were turned on: old Lejzor fell under the blows of the furious guards. Sentenced to five years in prison, he soon died in the Siedlce prison. Thanks to this the priest survived.

Why am I writing this? After all, no one will find such Lejzors today even with an electric flashlight. It would be difficult today to expect any kind of noble reflex from people if you spit in their faces, humiliate them at every step, and treat them like filth . . . And the Catholic youth and, more importantly, the clergy have forgotten completely the lofty principle: Love thy enemies! Today, when missions are formed, when in every school missionary circles are encouraged and pennies are collected so that some bushman or Zulu can be converted—today the whole area of local proselytism is left fallow, but even more!—the attitude is established that the great and moving slogans of loving one's neighbor are for distant export. And at home what rules is going at each other's throats, guzzling up the blood of people of another race, contempt—and limitless, oceanic hatred. And that is why I brought up the story of Lejzor, in order to turn our gaze away from the present and return to those times when the air fairly trembled with self-sacrifice and when no one asked anyone of their race or their faith. So many reflections were suggested to me by the letter signed by the very likeable and pleasant attorney, long may he live! And may he never lack in Aryan and Semitic cases!13



The written word was and is of great importance to Jews. Judaism forbids the creation of pictures or sculptures depicting God or the spiritual world. For this reason the word has to replace all this. From age 5 or 6 Jewish boys attended cheders where they learned to read the Torah. Later they became acquainted with other holy books. Secular books as well as newspapers were initially fought against by religious Jews. However, the phenomenon of reading them became so commonplace that it was impossible to counteract it. The first secular newspaper, titled Antyfanatyzm [Anti-Fanaticism], appeared as early as 1894. Its editor was Szalom Roczin, a teacher of the Hebrew language in Biała Podlaska. He wrote them by hand in three copies and gave them out to advocates of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) in Biała Podlaska, Siedlce, and Janów Podlaski. They copied and distributed it, passing it on from hand to hand. In Siedlce, [Miss] Zalcman took care of this. Three issues of this newspaper appeared. Aside from very intense polemics with Chassidim and Orthodox Jews, the columns of this paper contained verses that in a poetic way expressed the vicissitudes and aspirations of local Jews.14

In 1922, a professional Jewish paper appeared printed in Yiddish with the title Shedletser Shtime (Siedlce Voice). The group that published this paper included J. Grohman, Uszer Liwerant, Lewi Gutgelt and Jontel Goldberg. Only four issues of this paper came out in the form of special issues.15

The most popular Jewish newspaper was Shedletser Vokhenblat (Siedlce Weekly) published in Yiddish. This was the press organ of the Zionist Organization, and it appeared from 1922 up to the outbreak of war in 1939. The first editor-in-chief was Lewi Gutgeld, up to 31 July 1923; then Goldberg, from 1 August 1923 to 1928; then Uszer Liwerant, from 1928 to 1935. The editorial staff was made up of Lewi Gutgeld, Jakub Tenenbaum, Szymon Rozengarten, Ichiel Grynberg, and Anatol Goldberg. Eisenberg, Weintraub, Minc, Mastbaum, Dr. Kleinwechsler, J. Listek, Pasawski, Friedman, and Srebrnik worked with the paper. The editorial office was at 28 Kiliński Street, and the paper was printed at Wasserman's printing house on Ogrodowa Street. The circulation was as high as 800 copies, a portion of which, about 300 copies, was sent abroad; thanks to this the newspaper had a constant income.16 This paper was mentioned in the reports of the Ministry of the Interior for 1 May 1927, which confirms the influence that it had.17 In the beginning of 1936, all Jewish communities took up a campaign in the defense of the threatened ritual slaughter. This campaign was joined by Shedletser Vokhenblat, which in issue number 8 of 21 February 1936 published a column titled “Mrs. Prystorowa's Troubles” [Kłopoty Pani Prystorowej]. In it, the author criticized the plan to elimination ritual slaughter, claiming that there are more important matters for parliament to address. According to him, this was unemployment. In the next issue of the newspaper, this subject was taken up again. In the article “Ritual Slaughter” [Ubój rytualny], the author tried to prove statistically that ritual slaughter did not influence the cost of meat, and thus economic considerations cannot be an argument for its elimination.

In 1936, the journalists of Shedletser Vokhenblat split. Abraham Frydman and Z. Rozenzumen left the editorial staff. They set up a new weekly, Shedletser Leben (Siedlce Life). Its first issue came out 6 October 1936. Rozenzumen was the editor-in-chief. The address of the editorial office and the printing house were the same, 6 Przechodnia Street; Goldberg's printing house Express was located here. In the very first issue, there was an appeal to boycott German films. In connection with this, a prosecution enquiry was launched against the editor-in-chief. The paper came out for two years.18

The paper Dos Noyes Vort (The New Word) appeared in Yiddish in the first half of 1924. Perhaps this was a special issue because the paper did not continue to be published.19

Siedlce socialists in the Bund had their own press organ, the Shedletser Tribune (Siedlce Tribune). It appeared for barely two years, that is, from 1928 to 1930. The founder of the newspaper was Lewin, and the publisher was Beniamin Kramarz; it was printed in Yiddish.20

Journalists of the Polish press noted that in Shedletser Vokhenblat and Shedletser Trybune, the whole first page was often taken up with wishes in Polish on the occasion of a wedding or engagement. These texts, in the opinion of the Poles, were not always correct stylistically. This was nonetheless an interesting phenomenon testifying to the penetration of Polish culture into the circle of Jewish society.21

Religious Jews congregated in the political party Union of Israel—Agudath Israel, so-called Agudah. From 16 May 1923, Agudah began publication of the weekly Unzer Veg (Our Path). The official editor of the paper was Berysz Jakubowicz. The editorial staff consisted of Szalom Jeleń (he ran the paper de facto), Meir Szwarcman, Jehuda Arie Cukier, Aharon Nelkienbojm, Izrael Meir Kleinlener, and Szmuel Ginzberg. In the columns of this weekly, Orthodox Jews expressed their views, conducted campaigns in support of Agudah in elections to the City Council and the Community Council Board, and advocated for the traditional upbringing of children. The Siedlce Unzer Veg had readers in Sokołów Podlaski, Biała Podlaska, Międzyrzec, Garwolin, Węgrów, Kock, Stoczek Łukowski, Żelechów, and many other small towns and villages. The weekly printed stories, novellas, poems, and journalistic articles in Yiddish. Among the better-known Jewish journalists publishing in Unzer Veg were Rabbi Szimszon Hirsz, Rabbi Meir Zeiman, Rabbi Weinberg, Gedaliahu Bublik, Natan Brinbojm, Rabbi Orsze Rubin, Ajzyk Ber Ekerman, Jehuda Lajba Orlean, and Aleksander Zisze Friedman. The newspaper was supported by the rabbi of Sokołów, Icchak Zelig Morgenstern, who was well known and esteemed in the area; he was the vice-chairman of the all-Polish Agudah and a member of the Executive Committee of the Union of Rabbis in Poland. Unzer Veg printed poems by “Awraml” Zonszajn from Międzyrzec. The newspaper had from two to four pages and a circulation of 400. The Chassidic courts and Orthodox Jews in all of Podlasie supported the newspaper, which came out up to 1930.22 A special issue of Unzer Veg came out on 28 February 1936 in defense of ritual slaughter. In this issue, Orthodox Jews called for a one-hour strike on 17 March 1936 from 11 AM to 12 PM.

The Jewish Folk Party, known as the Folkists, affected Jewish society through the press. For a certain time in 1926, that is, during the period of elections to the City Council and the Community Council Board, the Folkists published a weekly Dos Vort (The Word). It was edited by a board consisting of Jakow Tenenbojm, Menasze Czarnobroda, and Mosze Mandelman.23

On 1 December 1933 the first issue of a new paper, Unzer Shtime (Our Voice), appeared, and the second issue appeared on 10 January 1934. The circulation of the second issue was impressive and numbered over 5,000 copies. It was published in Yiddish. Izrael Chaim Ajzenberg figured as the publisher and editor. However, the actual publisher and sponsor of the paper was a certain person in Waraw connected with the top leadership of the Communist Party of Poland [KPP—Kommunistyczna Partia Polski]. In January 1934, at the recommendation of the prosecutor of the Circuit Court in Siedlce, an investigation was started in the case of Unzer Shtime. The actual publishers were not discovered, but it was established that this was an effort of the KPP.24

The members of the “Yiddishe Kunst” (Jewish Art) Literary-Musical Society published a few issues of the paper Shedletser Velt (Siedlce World) around 1935. The editorial staff of this paper wanted to attract people of a variety of political views who wished to develop musical and literary interests within Jewish society.25

In January 1927 a group of Siedlce Jews with J. Eisenberg, J. Grynbaum, and J. Tenenbaum at their head began to publish a bimonthly in Yiddish called Vortslen (Roots). Only two issues appeared, printed in the printing house of Ch. Rosenblat at 27 Sienkiewicz Street.26

Special issues were printed on the occasion of anniversaries of various events or ceremonies. On 15 September 1922, Shedletser Tsayitung (Siedlce Newspaper) appeared under the editorship of J. Grohman; the publisher was Uszer Liwerant. Shedletser Zeitung had four pages and was published in Yiddish. The second issue was published on 1 October 1922 under the same editorship but with a different title: Shedletser Vort (Siedlce Word). The paper had eight pages. On 12 October 1922 the newspaper Shedletser Tug (Time of Siedlce) appeared. On 22 October, the newspaper Simchatenu (Our Joy) appeared as a special issue, published by graduates of the Hebrew school Tarbut (Culture). The executive editor was H. Szwarc, with editors D. I. Międzyrzecki, Szalom Rejch, Efraim Perle, L. Liberman, and Mordechaj Banak. The paper was published in Hebrew with a circulation of 150 copies and was printed in Wasserman's Printing House in Siedlce at 16 May First Street. The Hebrew school Tarbut published a special issue on 12 February 1932 called Haboger (Graduate). The executive editor was also H. Szwarc. The paper was edited by Gitel Morduchowic, Perec Rabic, Szlema Rejch, Ch. Milsztajn, and Małka Ibszyc. The paper was also printed in Hebrew in Wasserman's Printing House and contained six pages.

On 18 March 1932, the special issue Shedletser Nayes (Siedlce News) appeared. The editor and publisher was H. Rubinsztejn. It was published in Yiddish in 500 copies and had four pages. It was printed in Wasserman's Publishing House.

In May 1928, the special issue Unzer Yoyvel (Our Jubilee) was published by the Hechalutz Organization—Pioneer in Siedlce on the celebration of its tenth anniversary. The editor-in-chief was Abram Kimel, and the editorial board included P. Ben-Dov, Ch. Suchodolski, A. Kemon, Ada Barg, Szaul Rotsztajn, and Cwi Cynamon. The newspaper was published in Yiddish and printed in Rozenblat's Printing House at 27 Sienkiewicz Street.

On 20 April 1932, the special issue Unzer Shedletser Nayes (Our Siedlce News) was published. The editor and publisher was A. Liwerant. It was published in Yiddish in Wasserman's Printing House in 400 copies.27

In summing up, it should be stated that the Jewish press in Siedlce, particularly during the twenty-year interwar period, was first and foremost a reflection of the activity of political parties and then of the social life of various groups of the city's residents. On this occasion the conflict that took place in the Joint-Stock Printing House should be mentioned. On 9 January 1934, the management of the printing house dismissed from their jobs four Jewish workers: Jankiel Zonszajn, Mojżesz Szyfer, Hersz Wiśnia, and Srul Piekarz, who were holding back from work on the basis of personal misunderstandings with the management of the printing house. The next day, a group of about 15 youths broke into the printing house with the known Communist Boruch Stański, who demanded that the dismissed workers be rehired. When the director of the printing house, Pokrzywiński, refused, the arrivals wanted to break into the composing room by force. Fearing the demolition of the composing room, the co-owner of the printing house, Szulim Zalcman, fired three warning shots from a revolver. The assailants then fled. However, on the evening of the same day, “unknown perpetrators” broke six windows in the private home of Zalcman. On 13 January 1934 Boruch Stański was arrested by the police, and on 15 January a large display window of the printing house was broken. In the investigation it was determined that the act was committed by, among others, Jankiel Zonszajn and Lejbko Szejnberg, Communist activists already on record with the police. They were arrested. On 25 January, “unknown perpetrators” pasted obituary notices in Yiddish at various spots around the city, including on Zalcman's house, with the following content: “Death to the dangerous and vile schemer Szulim Zalcman! Because he caused a conflict with his workers in a malicious manner, replaced them with strike-breakers, and provoked the workers by locking them in jail. So we call upon all Siedlce workers to battle against this huckster and scoundrel. We will give him a bloody reckoning! Siedlce workers.”28 On 26 January 1934, the newspaper Shedletser Vokhenblat ran a paid announcement presenting the events in Zalcman's printing house. It was placed by the printers dismissed from their jobs.

Translator's Note, Chapter 8

  1. This union, variously known as the “Rozwój” (Development) Society for the Support of Polish Industry and Commerce, or “Rozwój” Society for the Development of Industry, the Trades, and Commerce, or, finally, the Polish Union (Union for the Support of the Polish State of Ownership), was an economic organization founded in 1913 as a branch of the National Democratic Party for the purposes explicit in its name. After achieving a national membership of about 80,000 in 1923, it gradually started to decline. Return

Author's Notes, Chapter 8

  1. F. Dromi-Popowski, „Kahal,” in Book of Remembrance of the Siedlce Community, pp. 414–415. Return
  2. Łętocha, Messer, and Cała, Żydowskie druki ulotne w II Rzeczpospolitej w zbiorach Biblioteki Narodowej, p. 72. Return
  3. Ibid., pp. 417–418. Return
  4. Mandelman, “Yiddish Education in Siedlce,” p. 447. Return
  5. Dromi-Popowski, „Kahal,” pp. 422–423. Return
  6. Śmieciuch, „Społeczność żydowska w Siedlcach w latach 1919–1938,” p. 83. Return
  7. G. Lusgarten, „Działalność Bundu w okresie międzywojennym,” in Book of Remembrance of the Siedlce Community, p. 407. Return
  8. Nowa Gazeta Podlaska, no. 51/105/ (1933), p. 7. Return
  9. Wybory rabina w Siedlcach 1933–1936, Wydz. II Społ.-Pol. 1919–1939, UWL, APL, sig.747, p. 23; Budżety i listy składek Gminy Wyznaniowej Żydowskiej w Siedlcach, Wydz. II Społ.-Pol. 1919–1939, UWL, APL, sig. 823, pp. 21–33. Return
  10. The word bóżnica (bożnica) was used in the Polish language to designate a place dedicated to God. “Synagogue” is a word originating from Greek and designating a “place of meetings.” It is a house of worship and liturgy and also a place for studying the Torah and Talmud, a hall for meetings, and the offices of the management board of the community council and the rabbinical court. [Although synagoga and bóżnica (bożnica) are often used synonymously, only synagoga is translated as “synagogue” in this book. Synagoga as a word is formal and elevated, used by more-educated people or in literature, and is frequently used to refer to large objects in big cities rather than in shtetls. The translation of bóżnica/bożnica is more difficult, since it is colloquial and familiar rather than formal. The synagogue in Siedlce was called both synagoga and bóżnica, for example. In this work, the latter has been translated as “prayer house”; here it is used to refer to places of worship of various sizes, from 10 seats to 1,500, and can thus be referring to anything from a “shtibl” to a “synagogue” and anything in between.—ed. and trans.] Return
  11. See table 2. Return
  12. APS, SPwS 1918–1939, sig. 2975. Return
  13. Stanisław Wąsowski, “Listy z Siedlec,” in Ziemia Siedlecka, no. 7 (1938): 6 ([Polish] orthography as in original). Return
  14. Kaspi, ”History of the Jews in Siedlce,” pp. 55–56. Return
  15. A. Winter, „Prasa siedlecka w latach 1918–1939,” in Siedlce, issue 1 (Siedlce 1973), pp. 67–68. Return
  16. APL, UWL, Wydz. Społ-Pol., Ewidencja czasopism żydowskich, sig. 604, fol. 17–18; Moniewski, Siedlce, p. 53. Most of the issues of this newspaper are preserved at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Michael Halber made a microfilm of these newspapers and passed one copy to the Laboratory of the Regional City Library in Siedlce. Warsaw University Library also has certain original copies. Return
  17. AAN, MSW WN, Żydowskie ugurpowania polityczne w Polsce w dniu 1-go maja 1927, sig. 246, fol. 8. Return
  18. Winter, „Prasa siedlecka w latach 1918–1939,” p. 89. Return
  19. Gazeta Podlaska, no. 14 (1924). Return
  20. Winter, „Prasa siedlecka w latach 1918–1939,” p. 80. Return
  21. Gazeta Podlaska, no. 24 (1933). Return
  22. M. Szwarcman, „Ortodoksyjna gazeta Unzer Weg,” in Book of Remembrance of the Siedlce Community, pp. 516–522. Return
  23. M. Mandelman, „Yiddish Education in Siedlce,” in Book of Remembrance of the Siedlce Community, p. 476. Return
  24. APL, UWL, Wydział Społ.-Pol., sig. 382, p. 6. Return
  25. Winter, „Prasa siedlecka w latach 1918–1939,” p. 88. Return
  26. Kaspi, ”History of the Jews in Siedlce,” p. 233; T. Szczechura, „Materiały bibliograficzne do dziejów zachodniego Podlasia i południowo-zachodniego Mazowsza,” in Prace Archiwalno-Konserwatorskie na Terenie Województwa Siedleckiego, issue 1 (1977): 143; D. Grzegorczuk, „Prasa siedlecka w okresie II Rzeczypospolitej,” in Prasa podlaska w XIX–XX wieku. Szkice i materiały, vol. 1, ed. D. Grzegorczuka and A. Kołodziejczyka (Siedlce 2000), pp. 60–61; D. Grzegorczuk, „Materiały bibliograficzne do historii prasy siedleckiej II Rzeczypospolitej,” in Prasa podlaska w XIX–XX wieku. Szkiece i materiały, pp. 69–81. Return
  27. Dokumenty życia społecznego Żydów polskich 1918–1939 w zbiorach Biblioteki Narodowej (Warsaw 1999), pp. 40–41. Return
  28. APS, SPwS 1918–1939, sig. 21, fol. 4. Return


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