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[Page 287]

The Beginning of The Gymnasia

By Chaim Horvitz

Translated from the Hebrew by David Goldman and Asher Szmulewicz

Together with economic pride in the 1920s, there was the need for more progressive educational institutions than those existing in town. The values of cultural and linguistic autonomy for national minorities penetrated society. This originated in all kinds of international agreements within the League of Nations at the time. All over Jewish Bessarabia, many types of educational institutions sprouted up, both elementary and high schools, where the students were taught in Hebrew. Yedinitz was not one of the first towns in this field.

In the summer of 1922, a Jew named Feldman came from Novolitz to Yedinitz, with a staff of teachers, Russian-Christian refugees including three Jews: Solomon Greenberg and two Hebrew teachers Greenshpan and Gendelman. Hillel Dobrov, the local Hebrew teacher joined them. They founded the Hebrew Gymnasia in Yedinitz. In the beginning, there were eight classrooms. Hebrew was taught in three of them, in the other ones were taught Russian and Romanian. The syllabus was not fixed. Since it was a private Gymnasia, it was not recognized by the Romanian ministry of education and thus was deprived of rights such as the right to register its alumni to the universities and after the introduction of the matriculation exam, the students were deprived of the right

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to take the exam. The beginning of the Gymnasia was difficult and so was its mere existence. It did not last a long time as a Hebrew Gymnasia. After a short time, it was decided with the parents' authorization to Romanize the Gymnasia, although not perfectly. The teachers were not fluent in the Romanian language. They lacked books in Romanian, so they used Russian books for teaching. The Jewish studies included Hebrew, literature, Tanach, and Jewish history for the syllabus. A mix of languages typified the teaching. Romanian, the official language, was allocated one hour a day, the rest of the school subjects were taught in Russian. Only after some time did the teachers get used to speaking Romanian and using Romanian textbooks and they gradually taught in the country's official language.

Despite the difficulties of adaptation and the mixed languages, the youth's intense will to learn, to acquire education, and an opinion, overcame the difficulties and obstacles raised on its way. In order to ease the lack of rights, at the school management request, the government agreed to send a team of teachers from the government high school of Hotin, every year to test the students in the standards required for the transition from one grade to another.

The Gymnasia influenced the social life and the formation of the youth. Sports, that were unknown by the youth, such as football, races, gymnastics with apparatus, and artistic gymnastics that were fostered by the Gymnasia, penetrated its consciousness.

Haifa

 

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A group of gymnasia graduates of 1923, girl first graduating class

1. Batya Sternthal Marishkan 2. Clara Bromberg 3. Lydia Mizrach-Mautik 4. Fanya Bromberg-Todor 5. Tsilia Rosenbaum 6. Menucha Nelman-Meller 7. Adella Gukovsky 8. Manya Feldberg 9. Rosa Goichberg-Horvitz 10. Chanake Fichman 11. Henya Gershel 12. Leah Styop 13. Manya Korman 14. Dina Rosenberg 15. Chantsya Ludmir-Fishman

[Page 289]

Studies, Discipline and General Spirit

by Attorney Meir Weissman

Translated from the Hebrew by David Goldman and Asher Szmulewicz

It's possible to now state without any exaggeration that the studies at the gymnasia were at a relatively high level in comparison with other similar schools in surrounding towns. Each year, the graduates were required to pass external exams in the presence of the examining teachers at the government gymnasia in Hotin. It's possible that was a primary factor in preserving this high level of studies.

Although some of the teachers were not yet proficient in the Romanian language (the common language of most of the teachers was still Russian and the textbooks they used were in Russian), they succeeded, in a small amount of time, to learn the Romanian language to a level that they could teach in Romanian to the students who mastered the Romanian language much better than themselves.

The school discipline was serious and rigorous especially with teachers from ancient Romania. A lot of former students will tremble remembering the apparition of Mironsku, a teacher of the Romanian language and literature, who terrified the students.

 

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Departure photo for teacher Dubrow, who left the school

From right to left: Breina Parnas (South America), Yisrael Steiff (died in Israel), Mendel Rabin (Israel), Moshe Rosenthuler (doctor, emigrated to Israel in 1972), Yitzchak Gertzman, Mendel Shorr (Israel), Esther Gandelman (Israel), Asher Rosenblatt (escaped to Russia before the war and disappeared), Peretz Kliger (Israel), Yechiel Bronstein, Zina Bronstein, Chayka Mayansky (Israel)
Seated: Hadassah Dubrow (Israel), Mina Parnes (Israel), Rosa Teman (Israel), Hillel Dubrow, Hemda Snitcovsky (Israel), Sonya Greenberg. Bottom: Moshe Dubrow (Israel), Fima Tolfoler (Chernovitz), Sioma Tolfoler, Chazin, Chayka Gukovsky

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The social life among students was conventional like in a common Gymnasia with all its symbols. There were student parties with a cultural program which usually ended in dances.

The Gymnasia vibes were a primary factor in town for the youth to earn a basic education. A lot of alumni continued their education with higher education and completed matriculation and various academic diplomas such as lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc.

A large portion of the students remained Zionists, an affinity that was kept and cultivated among their fellow Jewish students at the university. Because of this, they had to confront more than once their fellow antisemitic Christian students.

For the sake of historical truth, I am adding that a lot of Gymnasia alumni were on the left side of the political landscape.

Most of the Gymnasia graduates with academic or professional diplomas continue to practice their profession in Israel.

Tel Aviv

[Page 291]

Gymnasia Teachers

Yosef Magen and Mordechai Reicher

Translated from the Hebrew by David Goldman and Asher Szmulewicz

The teaching staff of the Gymnasia was quite varied. Each one was different than the next in temperament, external appearance, origin, behavior, and relationship to the students. Even with the passage of time from the first years of the Gymnasia, we shall nevertheless attempt to present some descriptions of the images of some of the teachers as we remember them.

First, let's remember the director Gregory Grigorovich Wilensky whose Gymnasia was named after him. Before the Romanization, the name was: Liceul Evreesc (Hebrew high school) G. Vilenschi and after the Romanization Liceul Particular (Special High school) G. Vilenschi. How a Russian Christian came to manage a Hebrew high school in Romanian Bessarabia? The Hebrew Gymnasia was created as a private business. There was no experienced or certified Jewish teacher with an academic education. A Jew from Novolslitz called Feldman, a business entrepreneur, brother-in-law of the deputy director Greenberg, (see below) gathered a few unemployed teachers, Russians that got stuck in Bessarabia after the Romanian occupation and thus assembled the teaching staff. Wilensky was the only one of the teaching staff with a full academic diploma and thus was certified to be director of the Hebrew Gymnasia even if it was a private business. During the inauguration

 

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Gymnasia teachers upon the departure from teaching of Mr. Dubrow

1. Gregory Mironescu (Romanian) 2. Winogradov (Math) 3. Alexandra Ivanovna 4. Bakunsky (Physics) 5. Tushinsky-Bahy (“The German”) 6. Bahy (“The Frenchman”) 7. Stayanov (Latin) 8. Kasher (Supervisor) 9. Greenberg (Inspector, History) 10. Gregory Wilensky (Director) 11. Hillel Dubrow 12. Mrs. Wilensky (Superintendent) 13. Mrs. Maria Mikhailovna Spiney

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of the Gymnasia, Wilensky gave an address in Russian and wished the students: “Be loyal builders to your people.” The Romanization took place one year later with the explicit agreement of our parents because they hoped for Hebrew high school educational institutions inside the framework of the minorities' cultural autonomy which rapidly faded away.

But the director scorned the Romanians and did not pay respect to the country and the Romanian culture. During election time, he voted, like all of the powerful people, for the government party. In front of the students, he found it necessary to justify the shift of his political affiliation from time to time by saying, of course in Russian, “None of them have a political program.” In the middle of the 1920s (around 1925), there was a celebration of his 50th birthday. He was dressed plainly, was pleasant, was friendly, and forgiving with his students and tutors, seldom was he angry. He was always smiling, with a pleasant manner and speech.

The temper of his wife Valentinova Alexandrovna was the complete opposite. She was the superintendent (natzalnitza) of the Gymnasia, in charge of discipline and order. While her husband spoke poor Romanian, she did not speak Romanian at all. She was not pretty, she had bright eyes, a sharp nose, and a shrieking high-pitched falsetto voice. “You have to stand up when an authority is coming in” she shouted when entering a classroom. Indeed, when she appeared, silence prevailed; however, the tumult returned when she exited the classroom. She died at the end of the 1920s and the funeral was

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attended by a large crowd. Gossipers said that the director Gregory Grigorevich would not mourn for a long time the wife of his youth. He disliked her although he conducted himself with the kindness of a gentleman.

On the opposite of the shouting and angry superintendent, Nina Grigorevna Feldman was an enthusiastic person with the appearance of a young lady whose function was to be a kind of tutor, tall and frail, with deep and beautiful eyes and a quiet and pleasant voice, full of courtesy and nobility. She was the sister-in-law of the deputy director (inspector) Solomon Davidovich Greenberg. She was a friend to the students, and they always obeyed when she asked them to be silent.

I remember the eternal couple, complementary, they were called by the students “Pat and Patashon,” the teacher of the French language Bahy and the German language teacher Olga Ivanovna Tushinsky. He was tall, casually dressed, black coat with a dark blue suit, and a black wide-brimmed trilby. She was a self-aware, short, and large woman originating from a Polish noble family with estates in northern Bessarabia. Both, it seems were Catholics and welcomed the Catholic bishop when he came to visit his flock, the few Catholics that lived in Bessarabia. He was brought from far away to teach French; she was recruited locally it seems in order to teach German. She was a widow, and he was an old bachelor. During their work at the Gymnasia, they became a couple of lovers. The students called her “the German” and him “the Frenchman.” He failed to learn Romanian, and she spoke Romanian with a strong Moldavian-Russian accent, which proves that she was raised in Bessarabia. They spoke to each other in French.

The Latin teacher Yvegeny Yoanovich Stuyanov was an interesting guy. He was a tall man, stubby, awkward, with prominent jaws, bald, and wore glasses. On top of his sloppy black pants, he wore a bright buttoned coat (tozhorka). From time to time, on festive days, he wore many medals from his military service in the Czar army. People said he was a retired general. His origins, as we learned then, were in “deep Russia.” He struggled painfully with the Romanian language and succeeded, somehow, to grasp it, however, he spoke with a strong Russian accent to the point of giggling. He pronounced the simple Romanian word “I” “Yehu” instead of “Yev.”

He was well educated in music and taught music. He created a student choir and an orchestra, with the participation of professional gypsy musicians and others. He practiced with the orchestra classic compositions, arias from operas, conducted the orchestra, wearing a black frock coat, in public appearances. For the activities outside of the Gymnasia, he demanded payment, and for those who did not pay, he stopped his voluntary works. So, he justified his behavior: “I have to prepare the choir for the national holidays as a good Romanian, but the remainder is work and if I work, I need to eat and be able to sip a glass of wine.” He was naive, human, and kind, I remember how he had difficulties explaining the Latin word “curvamen” (curve).

[Page 294]

The students laughed because there is a bad word that sounds almost the same. Even he laughed and said, “I know, I know the meaning of the word.”

During the increased antisemitic riots in Romania at that time: “I think you should act in order to have a Jewish state in Palestine. Each people need to have a homeland”. And afterward added: “Russia fell because she oppressed its national minorities, the Poles, the Jews, and the others.” He hinted that Romania oppressed its Jews. He left the town and got a job in the old Broget Gymnasia (Krayova?). He excelled in organizing there a student choir that was broadcast on the Romanian radio. His photo while conducting his choir was published on the first page of the Romanian radio newspaper.

I have a good memory of the mathematics teacher Alexander Nikolaivich Winogradov. He was tall, slim, blond, and mustached. We pitied him, it was torture for him to explain the algebra, geometry, and arithmetic exercises in Romanian, a language that he was not able to teach. His language was a mixture of languages like: “In one pocket I have four lei and, in another pocket…”. Moreover, he was a stutterer. It took us a long time to get used to his stutter and his language mixture. The course was a torment for him and us. He was a handyman in a lot of crafts and during his free time was an amateur shoemaker.

Likewise, we cannot forget the teacher of the Romanian language and literature in the higher classes, Gregory Mironescu, an original Romanian in the school staff. He as a student did not finish his academic studies, he was not a certified teacher. He was not sympathetic: bachelor, lonely and drunk. He was infected by antisemitism, in the beginning secretly and then publicly. Once in the middle of a lesson, he broke out like this:

“Somebody disseminates rumors that I eat your charity bread. This is defamation, before I was not antisemitic, from now on, I will be one.”

Finally, he left his educational position at the Gymnasia and opened a tavern from which he earned a living. This tavern became a center of the Romanian antisemitic activities in town. The seminar teachers and the adult seminarians came there in order to drink and to prepare conspiracies. From time to time it was said in town that such a Jewish woman or another one was Mironescu's lover. According to the best of my knowledge, these were mere unverified rumors.

After Mironescu the teachers of the Romanian language changed: first was Jemniuk then the wife of the bishop Spinay, Maria Michailovna who taught the Romanian language and literature. They left in 1941[1] together with the Romanians.


Translator's footnote:

  1. I think it should be 1939 when the Romanians left Bessarabia, in 1941 they came back with the Germans. Return

[Page 295]

Jewish Teachers

by Yosef Magen and Mordechai Reicher

Translated from the Hebrew by David Goldman and Asher Szmulewicz

 

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Departure of Teacher Gandelman

1. Mogolnik 2. David Littman (Chernovitz) 3. David Lerner hy”d 4. Zalman Zisselman (Belc) 5. ---- 6.----- 7. Yisrael Steiff z”l 8. Yosef Shitz-Magen (Tel Aviv) 9. Rashkovsky 10. Yosef Snitcovsky (Venezuela) 11. Moshe Kupit (New York) 12. Yankel Liebman (USSR) 13. Teacher Hillel Dubrow z”l 14. Chaim Horvitz (Haifa) 15. Meshulam Bronstein Hy”d 16. ------- 17. Esther Gandelman 18. Rosa Teman 19. Teacher Mr. Gandelman 20. Breina Parnes (South America) 21. Lyuba Solter 22. Krishkutsky, a student from Rishkan

 

And now about our Jewish teachers. First of all, the deputy director, Solomon Davidovich Greenberg, who taught history and some other subjects, was of average height, thin build, relatively young among the teachers, well-dressed with a dark coat in winter and a white one in summer, clean-shaven and a real Odessite.

His mother tongue was Russian, but he quickly learned the Romanian language and spoke it with a strong Russian accent from Odessa. The Hebrew letter reish was heard like a cheish. He liked to socialize with the few Romanian clerks working at the town hall and was one of the regular guests of the tavern that was called “The Restaurant,” which was close to the Garfinkel Hall.

On the celebration of Romania's National Day, inspector Greenberg (his official title) gave an official speech on behalf of the Gymnasia. He adapted himself to the empty rhetoric that was usual on such occasion, and even began his speech with a local tone: “Brothers Moldovans.” The sentence and the accent were scorned by the native Romanians. During free talks with the students, he was scoffing the Romanians and their orders. He emphasized his indifference or his opposition towards Zionism and even the Jewish religion. Once he said that: “the closest religion to me is Buddhism.”

In the beginning, three Hebrew teachers had to teach common subjects since the Gymnasia was intended to be a Hebrew Gymnasia: they were Yitzhak Greenspan, B. Gandelman, and Hillel Dubrow. H. Dubrow joined the teachers' staff as a local and experienced teacher.

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He taught only Hebrew subjects: language, literature, Tanach, etc. B. Gandelman had to teach mathematics in Hebrew in the lower grades. Greenspan taught some Hebrew subjects and some general subjects in Hebrew such as natural science, history, and geography also in the lower grades.

During the first year, “Hebraization” was announced, which meant that the teaching language was Hebrew for the general subjects, only for the first three grades. For the teaching language in the higher grades, it was Russian. The intention was each year to add another grade taught in Hebrew. However, the Romanization stopped this process.

The teacher Greenspan, who took part in the second Aliyah and then left Israel, combined in his natural science class, all kinds of stories about Eretz Israel. On Tu BeShevat, he described in front of the students how some fruits including “pistazhkes” (peanuts in our language) grew in the soil like potatoes rather than on trees or bushes and that the original figs, unlike the dry ones we know, have the shape of a pear. He used these examples to explain the modern custom of eating fifteen different fruits on TubeShevat. Greenspan was a lonely bachelor, and he died the second year he was teaching at the Gymnasia, the second year after he arrived in town.

The teacher Gandelman was also a journalist, and a Yiddish writer. He published articles in the newspaper “Our Time,” which was published in Kishinev. He also published a book in the United States called “Problems of National Character.” His qualities as a teacher, especially in mathematics, did not leave a positive impression.

In the second or the third year teaching at the Gymnasia, he emigrated to the United States. He was also lonely and did not have a family, and the farewell party was emotional with many people attending it.

The teacher Hillel Dubrow was the only one left to teach Hebrew. After he left, the director invited Zalman Zisselman, a Gymnasia alumnus, to teach Hebrew. Afterward, he finished his studies as a pharmacist at Iasi University.

[Page 297]

The End of the Gymnasia
and The End of Hebrew Education in Yedinitz

by Frieda Meital-Kuzminer

Translated from the Hebrew by Naomi Gal

The harsh economic conditions in Yedinitz starting in the 1930s were reflected in the Gymnasia attendance as well. The number of students decreased, and in addition, there was the envy of the governmental institutes. I remember that right after the start of the academic year in 1936, a so-called government commission headed by an inspector paid a visit to the Gymnasia. The committee visited every class, and after their departure, the school was closed. As far as I remember, this happened right after the holidays. This commission traveled to all the towns in the Hotin district and closed all the private gymnasiums and pre-gymnasiums. The students were left “mid-air,” although all of them were transferred officially as external students to the governmental gymnasium in Hotin.

The Gymnasium in Yedinitz had been slowly dying in the past years. Very few students attended it, which was reflected in its financial situation.

was back then in seventh grade. In the “Admitra” exams (the passage from lower classes to seventh grade, the first of the higher classes). Only six girls (including one Christian) and one boy passed. There were even fewer students in the higher grades.

When I attended Hotin Gymnasium as an external student, I met students from other villages including Novaselitsa, Lipcani, etc. The gymnasium students scattered, some continued in Hotin as external students, and others, like me, transferred to Belz. The majority gave up higher education.

Among the students who were with me in seventh grade were Taybele Grabman (I believe he is now in Czernowitz), Tiupa Fuchs (now in Yedinitz), Etty Wolfenzon, Mironsky (the only Christian in the class), Yassi Wasserman (perished), Shichman (the son of the “Parisian Tailor”), Rivka Gukavsky (in Czernowitz now), and others.

And what happened to the teachers?

We should mention that Wilensky, the first superintendent of the Gymnasium, became years earlier a teacher in the governmental gymnasium in Belz, where he died after a year or two. The executive superintendent of the Gymnasium in Yedinitz was the vice-superintendent, Solomon Davidovich Greenberg.

After the gymnasium was closed, he moved to Novaselitsa (his wife was a native) and taught there.

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Also, he was a teacher at the time of the first Soviet occupation and I heard he was murdered together with his wife and all his family by the Germans as soon as they invaded Bessarabia.

The Hebrew education was practically canceled after the last Hebrew teacher, Zalman Zisselman, left for his pharmaceutical studies at Iasi's University. Instead of Hebrew, they taught “Mosaic's' Religion.” The teacher was Fishel Malay, who later left and immigrated to South America.

met the Math teacher Winogradow in Kishinev when I came back from Transnistria. He was a teacher, and this is all I know about him.

The teachers of French and German, Olga Yvannova and Bahi, were probably evacuated. I met her with her clothes all patched and mended. Later, when I was working in the financial department in Belz after my return from Transnistria, an old couple entered our office and said they are opening in the evening private classes in Russian. I recognized them and they recognized me, and the meeting was very hearty.

 

The Soviets Arrive

Let me take this opportunity to briefly describe the state of the Hebrew schools in Yedinitz following the emigration of Hillel Dubrow to Palestine in 1936. First of all, the Talmud Torah public school continued to operate in the Sha'arei Zion synagogue building. The headteacher was the veteran Baruch Yashtzikman. Another school that continued operating was the public school of the veteran teacher, my father, Hirsh Kuzminer, who died on the day of the horrible massacre right after the Romanians returned to town in 1941 (see the section on the Holocaust). Mr. Gurvitz's school continued to operate as well.

The Soviets reorganized all the educational institutes in town. They established schools in Yiddish, Russian, and Moldavian. The Yiddish school was called “Yiddish, not Polish Middle School”. There were seven classes. This school had three branches.

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One of them was in Noa Akerman's home, another branch in the house of Wineshenker on “Potshova” Sreet, where Dr. Zilberman lived, and the third branch was in the former Primaria house.

n the building that used to be the Gymnasium, the Russians installed the Russian school that had ten classes and was under the teacher Gurayevsky's direction. They also founded a school in the Moldavian language that had seven classes. The textbooks were identical in all languages and were brought to the village from far away.

The Seminary building became barracks to the stationed army.

The teachers in the Yiddish school were all teachers that in the past taught Hebrew. The superintendent was Hirsch Eidelman. Israel Kalkar, who came back to the village, was appointed as a pedagogical consultant. The teachers who taught all subjects in Yiddish were my father Hirsch Kuzminer, the veteran teacher Baruch Yashtzikman, Korenblit, the righteous Lerner, Bulia Eidelman (the school's director sister), Yano Bronstein, and I, too, who served as a teacher in this school for a while.

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What happened to these teachers?

Here is what I remember.

In the winter of 1941, the teacher Korenblit contracted Scarlatina and died. The funeral procession stopped next to the school (in Wineshenker's house), where the teacher, Yashtzikman, gave a moving eulogy. When he finished eulogizing, he fainted. They carried him to Dr. Lerner's house, who diagnosed a severe heart attack. After a short while, he died and his funeral was the day after, passing it again next to the school, where the teacher Gurvitz gave the eulogy. Moshe, Yashtzikman's son is in Czernowitz, while Lea, his daughter, and wife of Eliezer Cochba, who lectures at Tel Aviv University, lives in Holon. (See a separate article about teacher Yashtzikman by Y. Magen).

I left Yedinitz and Bessarabia in 1946 and I cannot provide additional details about the people mentioned in this article.

Kindergartens in Yedinitz

Translated from the Hebrew by David Goldman

The first kindergarten teacher in town was Zipporah Dubrow (daughter of Shmuel Zelig Kaufman). She arrived in town with her husband Hillel Dubrow after graduating from the famous Alterman Teacher's Seminary in Odessa. They organized singing, dancing, and acting classes. Zipporah died in 1923. Various kindergartens were opened afterward by graduates of the kindergarten teachers' seminary, called Safa Brura, in Czernowitz.

Etty Gutman, who graduated from the seminary, also opened her own kindergarten. She later became attracted to Communism and moved to France. During the war, she was in the resistance, was captured, and sent to Auschwitz. She survived, returned to Paris after the war, and died in the late 1960s of a severe illness.

 

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Etty Gutman's Kindergarten 1932

Standing: Etty Gutman (died in Paris), Devorah Baron-Schwartz (Israel)
The children, standing from right to left: Levitas, Leib Bard's son (Israel), Dinah, daughter of Yitzchak Borotstien (died in Israel) Stienwartz, son of Itsik-Yonah Vinokur, Dinale Pintchevsky, Sioma Gutman
Seated from right to left: Surkis, grandson of Speier, Fuchs, Borog, grandson of Gutman, Yanik Sheindelman (today an officer in the IDF).
On the ground: Boria Roit, daughter of Lerner-Varnotchka, Katz

[Page 301]

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Tarbut Library Committee, Yedinitz

1. Pinchas Grobman 2. Antshel Sheindelman 3. Yisrael Shott 4. Chaim Gukovsky 5. Hillel Dubrow 6. Shimshon Bronstein 7. Y. Nemitchinitser 8. Moshe Steinbortz z”l 9. Y. Bar-Razon Borochin (Tel Aviv)

Public Libraries

by Mordechai Reicher

Translated from the Hebrew by Naomi Gal

The Tarbut Library was one of the most established cultural institutions in Yedinitz. For many years, it was the only public library in town. Prior to it, there was the Popular Library founded by Prince Kazimir at the end of the 19th century. It was located on “China.” Most of its books were in the Russian language.

Asher Goldenberg recalls that in 1916 he discovered in this “real” library research about Darwinism by the German scholar Ernst Haeckel. The librarian was an old non-Jew who was very polite and knew all about the existing library books. Shmuel Kafri tells about the public Jewish library, the “first one in the village,” that it was founded by Shmuel Wineshenker and the bookshop's store owners Meir Blanc and Lachman. It was located at the “Zion Gates”.

The writer Menashe Halperin, the son-in-law of Naftali Kormansky, who lived in Yedinitz during the nineties of the previous century and was a close friend of the writer Yehuda Steinberg when back then he was a teacher in the village, relates that they too also opened a public library. The readers were mainly youngsters and exchanged books in secret, fearing the adults. When the two left the village, the library closed.

Later, it was possible to find private libraries in the homes of educated people and by the first Zionists: Avremel Milgrom, Ben-Zion Tinman, Baruch Blank, Mordechai Sheindelman, and others. According to Menahem (Anshel), the son of Mordechai Sheindelman, his father's library contained about 300 books in Hebrew and Yiddish.

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Mordechai Sheindelman had a special zeal for his books. In the middle, there was a King David's shield and inside it had the word Zion. The surrounding writing said: “The Library of Mordechai Sheindelman, Yedinitz.”People borrowed the books for free. When he realized the readers were not returning the books as agreed, he liquidated the library.

After a few failed attempts, the initiators and activists of “Zeire Zion”, H. Dubrow, Y. Borochin, P. Grubman, V. Ludmir, Zevi Eidelman, Shimshon Bronstein, a man from Poali Zion, and others, managed to establish the Tarbut Library. It was opened in the mid-1920s. The library was located in a hall that belonged to the family of the barber Bromberg, an educated and progressive man. There was also a praying space and a Minyan, and from the vows' monies, they sustained the hall and the library.

The Tarbut library had the best Hebrew and Yiddish literature, and every new book in these languages was immediately purchased for the library. The number of the readers, youngsters, students, and adults, too, reached many hundreds. The library was a meeting place for all those who craved for culture and books.

I can still recall the long, brown table in the hall where the veteran librarian Kleinman sat, his face wrinkled, his hair silver, wearing glasses. Per demand, he used to slowly approach the glassed shelves, take out the required book, and hand it to the reader while providing the appropriate explanations. It is worth mentioning that the “leftist” circles founded during the thirties their own library, but it did not last long.

The Tarbut Library remained open until the Soviet occupation. The way the Soviets eliminated the library is mentioned in other articles in this book.

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After a soccer match between the Yedinitz team and another team

1. ------ 2. Oren Friedman 3. Yasha Shitz (Israel) 4. Nyuma “Chort” 5. Yaakov Vinokur (Avraham Velvels) 6. Nyunya Friedman (killed in battle) 7. Aharon Schwartz 8. Avraham Weintraub 9. David Lieberman 10. Avraham Friedman 11. Misha Feinbaum 12. Baruch Vinokur The rest are not from Yedinitz

 

[Page 305 - Hebrew] [Page 306 - Yiddish]

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Newspapers that appeared in Yedinitz

Translated from the Hebrew by Ala Gamulka

From time-to-time newspapers appeared in town, “published” by various youth groups. These newspapers were handwritten and reproduced by carbon paper. Therefore, there were few copies (see the article by M. Reicher). We found three such newspapers that had been published in the mid-1920s. They were “New Generation” - Expressions of Working Youths; “Forward”- put out by Hatechia (regeneration); “Freedom”- expressions of the unaffiliated student body.

Later, there were some literary publications in Yiddish. Others, such as “Sparks”- we have the title page- were printed on a Spirograph. There were dozens of copies.

An interesting detail: in “Hadror” (Freedom) (1925), there is mention of the fact that the Zionists in town elected Yeshaya Tolpolar as head of the Jewish National Fund, but the General Zionists had re-elected the previous head - Ben Zion Teiman. “This fact causes damage to the institution”, warns the author of the article. He demands unity (title of the article). The dispute remained, and Ben Zion Teiman continued to act as head of the Jewish National Fund. The two men, Y. Tolpolar and Ben Zion Teiman were killed in the Holocaust.

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Student Circles Concerned
with Social and Cultural Affairs

by Levi-Leon Trachtenbroit

Translated from Hebrew by Naomi Gal

We have already written much about the early 1920s, the years when the gymnasia operated in Yedinitz. Before that, many of the young people in town interested in education and knowledge were forced to set off for the larger cities of Greater Russia to continue their studies. The first step was to finish gymnasia either as a full-time or as an external student, and the next step was to attend the institutions of higher education.

The people of Yedinitz went mainly to study at the gymnasium and universities in Odessa, Moscow, Kiev, and Krakow, where the students chose subjects close to their inclinations and talents, some studied medicine, law, commerce, teaching, etc.

During the years of the Russian Revolution, the borders were closed, and the roads were unsafe, hence, most of the students were stuck in their schools, unable to get back home. Only during the 1920s, when the regime in Russia became somehow stable and a relative peace was established at the borders and on the roads, we, a group of about fifteen students from Odessa's university, the author of this article among them, decided to get home regardless of what happens. This is not the place to describe the obstacles and adventures we had on our way, but we finally arrived.

As far as I can remember, the group included Manya, Luba, and Moshe Khalaf, Nachman Shepier, Nehemiah Pradis, Sonia Kormansky, and others.

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Yed0307.jpg
Levi-Leontchik Trachtenbroit, z”l

 

In another group arrived Yosef Kliger, Luba and Anshel Shaindelman, Chana and Itzik Ludmir, Yasha Bromberg, Eliezer Kolker, the family members of Dr. Zilberman, and others.

Most of us belonged to wealthy families, and the economic situation of our parents was secure so that we did not have to look for jobs and income, leaving us an empty time for idleness. No wonder we had an impulse to congregate together for conversations on studies, literature, politics, Russian songs, and to enjoy the ambiance of students' lives. Students' circles formed, and one must bear in mind, that the opportunities for entertainment and fun were limited in Yedinitz back then. We were living in the time of the Russian Revolution and the slogans of social equality and social justice were vibrating in the world, finding a place among the students.

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We used to meet in houses of well-known families ( Yechiel Nemichinhzer, Premislow, Bromberg, and at my house), reading together and discussing issues. These meetings ended most of the time with the singing of Russian songs.

Sometimes the Land of Israel and Zionism were subjects of heated arguments among us showing the different points of view. One should recall that these were the years of the Zionist awakening, the time after the Balfour Declaration, the founding of the Halutz, and the beginning of the Third Aliya. This kind of argument usually ended with the singing of songs of the Land of Israel together with old Zionists and new pioneers, who back then walked the streets of the town (Yedinitz had then a branch of the Halutz).

To enrich the activities of these students' circles, the best of the amateur theater actors joined them. Among the names, I still remember are Avraham Salzman, Vitia Rabinowitz, Avraham Lerner (“Kiamba”), the Zisser brothers, and others. Later on, the refugees of Ukraine who arrived in town joined these circles. Among them was Dov (“Borya”) Perlmutter, who back then worked as a teacher in the “Shaarei Zion” School, and his sister Shoshana (later she became an actress in Ha-Ohel in Tel Aviv and went by the name of Shoshana Barnea).

Although the agreement did not always reign among the members of the circle when it came to political beliefs, it should be noted that most people were in favor of the Zionist idea and some others were part of “Zeirai-Zion” and “Poalei-Zion”. Their meetings were attended by the activists of the above-mentioned movements, as well as by the teacher Dubrow, Shimshon Bronstein, Avraham Weisman, and others.

There were also some with leftists' tendencies and even Communist fanatics. Among them, I remember Eliezer Ben-David Kolker, Yasha Bromberg, the son of the tailor Yosef Katz (who lived opposite Premislow), and the last one, Israel Rosenberg. They were all bright intellectual youngsters. Rosenberg was a sworn Communist who during the 1930s became the teacher and the uncrowned leader of the Communist youth in town.

There were also some “neutral” people with no political inclinations who were connected to the students' circles. I will mention two of them. One is part of Menashe Bernstein's family (the owner of the iron materials store), Koka, Menashe's oldest daughter, who arrived in Paris and during the Holocaust was saved by a Catholic priest. The other one is Fanya Pichman, an intelligent young woman, who studied at the University of Iasi and later made Aliyah.

One must admit the students did not have any real influence on the town's way of life and did not help to form its cultural-social image, not even among the youngsters.

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Yed0309.jpg
Idel Reichman of Yedinitz as a soldier in the Czar's army, with his sister Chana. It is said that Chana accompanied her brother in his military travels to provide him with kosher food.
The photo was taken in 1916

 

At the end of their studies, each one of them chose their own path, profession, and family. Only in later years, when the Zionist public-politic activity increased, did they find ways for some kind of public involvement.

Levi-Leonchik Trachtenbroit made Aliyah with his wife Manya (previously Premislow) after the war and the Holocaust. His parents R' Moshe and Rivka perished in the Holocaust. Leonchik and his family settled in Tel Aviv, where he worked as an accountant. He died at the age of 70 from a terminal disease in Tel Aviv, on December 5, 1971.

 

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