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[Page 120]

A Purim Meal

by Moshe Bar David (David, Dawid)

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

A residential wing was built as a neighbor of the Rebbe, Rabbi Yudl's House of Prayer, next to the corridor passageway of the House of Prayer, where several neighbors lived. One not-too-large room served as a small synagogue for prayer as well as studying. The synagogue was called the Potiker kloyzl [small synagogue] after the name of a former rabbi Potiker who years before had been the rabbi in our city. Two minyonim [prayer groups] of Jews prayed in the kloyzl. The worshippers supported the kloyzl and the main contributor was a member of the middle class named Moshe Wanderer. He was the son-in-law of Markl's daughter Ryvtsa (Ryvka Dawid). He had married her daughter Frimtsa. Moshe Wanderer was a haberdasher and seller of fashion articles, a well-to-do Jew with a generous hand, a philanthropist, openly and covertly, a pious Jew who was capable of learning and with a modern approach to business. He earned well and presided over a beautiful home.

He was the only Jew in the city who, interpreting texts, tithed from his earnings for tzedakah [charity] and actually contributed. As he was rich from his profits, he tithed a great deal. He paid the tithe to the needy in the city as well as to the strangers who would visit the city. [He donated to] the Jewish hospital, to the security house, Talmud Torah [school for poor boys], the group providing aid to poor brides, to rabbis and to all the Jewish institutions as well as secret donations, and there was no lack of Jews in the city whose income was too small.

He would keep the tithed money separate, not mixed with other money, and when the months of Adar [March] and Nisan [March-April] arrived, he would take the rest of the money that was set aside as charity and distribute it at Purim at the meal and at Passover.

The Purim meal at [the house of] Moshe Wanderer was a renowned thing. Every Jew in the city knew that he could take part in the meal [there was] an open door. Purim shpiler [Purim actors] and Purim actor groups who in the majority were needy young men prepared their play thoroughly for months and visited the meal because they knew that from Moshe Wanderer, they would receive a good gift. Jews who also collected for themselves or for others would linger at the meal for a long time. The Wanderers' house stood in the middle of the Ringplatz. [It was] an old house that had been built a hundred years ago, a beautiful residence, with large, spacious rooms. [It was] the only house in which the ceilings were painted with artistic landscapes. On Purim evening, they opened the doors of the large dining room through the bedrooms and salon and thus created a long room illuminated by gas lamps, chandeliers, and colorful flasks

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to welcome a great number of guests to the white-covered tables with foods, whiskeys, fruits, candies, and various picante foods and invite them to enjoy the atmosphere and warmth.

On the side, around the walls, stood several kegs of Okocim beer, large bowls and pots of cooked beechnuts, kidney beans, chickpeas, nuts, and nontlen [honey and poppy seed or walnut confection] and Hamantaschen [triangular-shaped Purim pastries]. Every Jew who came to ask for a donation received at least one korona which at that time was a very respectable coin. Less than a korona did not lay on the table and, if [a visitor] wanted to linger a little longer at the meal, he received something warm to eat and whiskey, a white roll, a zrazy (large meatball) with stuffed kishka [intestines], whiskey, beer and candy from the prepared table. The money lay on the table, only in silver, from one korona to five korona, and under the tablecloth lay the banknotes. Everyone carried out their Purim meal at home until around 10 o'clock. Then, all the relatives and their families would go to Uncle Moshe Wanderer and spend the time until midnight. My father, Mendele Dawid, and his family, my Uncle Berish Gros (Nauman) and his family, and the last and most beloved, my Uncle Shlomo Shapira and his large household (a dozen children) would go. In addition to all of those who were close and also distant relatives, there were also our Jewish neighbors [such as] Ahron Landau [and] good friends, who prayed in the convenient kloyz. Thus, the rooms were fully packed and the tables were occupied. The orchestra of Nota Gutenplan (his wife was our cousin) entertained and their playing added charm and joy to the meal. Purim-shpilers in various bizarre masks began to arrive, entire groups each with its own program.

Pesakhia Grinberg with the Yidisher Khasene [Jewish wedding] was one of the most interesting spectacles, mainly Pesakhia as the batkhn [wedding jester] with various comic batkhn songs and rhymes and witticisms, puns that, years later, I found published in a small book by an American humorist named R[uvin] Granovski. Next was the Goyishe Khasene [Gentile wedding], which was organized by the Jewish porters. The Yosef-shpil [the Joseph Play – Mekhires Yosef – The Selling of Joseph] was performed by the journeymen who had thoroughly studied it for months. Der Priziv [The Military Draft] was a social-political satire. The main attraction was Di Royberbandl [The Robber Band] (taken from [Friedrich] Schiller's The Robbers – a mix of the folksy, terror-novel, Rinaldo Rinaldino – the Robber Captain – a mixture of Yiddish, Polish and Deitchmerish [words taken from modern German]), as well as the traditional Ahasuerus with Mordechai and Esther and Haman, with songs that were tragic-comic. All tried to act in the best possible way (exclusively men without women). In addition, came individual presenters with familiar

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and unfamiliar folksongs that evoked admiration and curiosity from the audience.

It was curious that over the course of an hour one of the Purim shpilers, almost undisguised, sang unfamiliar songs from another area that were unfamiliar in Galicia. It turned out that an unknown guest actor had come from the other side of the border – from Russia; therefore, no one knew him and his songs were different. After singing, he took the large amount of money that the middle-class men and the other guests had given him and left silently without saying a word. “Who are you? Where are you going?” No answers! Therefore, this was talked about in the city for a long time because he had not visited any other meals in the city.

Just before midnight came the masked students and academics who brought their costumes from Lvov (Lemberg) because at the end of Shabbos [Sabbath] after Purim they had organized a Purim masked ball. Other groups and unions, such as the Artisans' Union, Yad Kharutzim [Industrious Hands], would arrange masked balls during the week of Purim. The costumes would be the attraction and even the Ne'ila [final prayer recited on Yom Kippur] of the Purim meal. Mostly, the masks were worn completely covering the head, so that the wearers would not be recognized. The masks were of animals, fantastic, exotic types; they spoke with animal-like voices, with cheerful, mischievous witticisms because Purim is Purim and one is permitted to do what one avoids for the entire year. Beginning with the “Purim Rabbi” to the reading of the megile [scroll of the Book of Esther] in goyish [not Jewish – a reference to language that is not Yiddish], that is a parody translated into Ukrainian (Ruthenian), which two nice, cheerful Jews, Yisroel Cajg and numerous helpers would read with a great deal of charm. A kaleidoscope of various bizarre, interesting figures passed through Moshe Wanderer's Purim meal in Brzezany. It was always a pleasant occurrence, also while remembering it. After the First World War, my Uncle Moshe again held Purim meals but not like before. At the time of the war, the material position of the Jews greatly changed, and took a turn that shattered the Jewish way of life. However, Moshe Wanderer again gave charity in secret. His open hand and his Jewish heart were always ready to help.

In the 1930s, he made a trip to Eretz Yisroel and also planned to settle there permanently, but the Second World War disturbed all of his plans. He and his wife perished in the Shoah in 1943. Of blessed memory!

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Newspaper ad for a Purim ball organized by the [craftsmen organization] “Yad Kharutzim” [Dilligent Hand]

Brzezany Strange Characters (Eccentrics)

by Moshe Bar-David (David, Dawid)

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Every city has its local well-known types of people who have a strange character and they give the Jewish neighborhood its stamp and even a certain charm. The so-called “crazy ones” and fools. Comical and unfortunate people, each with his stupor, with his abnormality and his [difficult] life. Events and invented anecdotes always characterized these types and they were woven into the way of life of the Jewish neighborhood. There were several such Jews in our city. Four types, each different from the others. Layzer Pif, Dudye Morgeh, Avrahamtze Khalemke, Hershele Dzia Hop [Grandfather Hop].


Layzer Pif

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Layzer Pif [Bang-bang]

A small, stocky body with a black-green beard, small peyes [side curls], a wide, shiny, fat nose with small mercurial, running eyes, sly and yet saying nothing. A black cap on his head from under which can be seen a once-black greasy yarmulke [skull cap]. He would speak fast; mumble and it was hard to understand him.

He lived from donations, which he demanded with great insolence. Every week, mostly on Thursdays, he visited every shop, and every house and if they did not want to or could not give the demanded donation, he would play a trick and drop his greasy yarmulke into the barrel of water that usually stood at the entrance to the kitchen, or on erev Pesakh [the eve of Passover], covered with a white linen cover. In the street, he insolently ran after a passerby and demanded what he was due and did not stop until one had to give him a few groshn [small coin]. He knew everyone's ancestry, knew exactly when a holiday fell on the calendar without having a calendar and he never erred.

Before the First World War, and for a certain time later, he would carry the flour that members of the middle class would buy for Shabbos [Sabbath] and he would be paid for this. Rascals and ordinary Jewish jokers would tease and menace him, calling after him with mocking names, Layzer Pif! Pif! And [they would] ask him questions that he would often answer. One question would anger him, the question if he knew Shaya the Beggar? Because before the First World War, he went through the country with Shaya the Beggar asking for donations. This was not suitable for him, for his honor. He was a local patriot; here people knew him and they knew who he was. He would boast of his occupations. Many occupations: once he was a klezmer [musician] – he would carry a large drum for the klezmer [band] to a non-Jewish wedding; he was a vagabond – wandered around the country, but do not remind him of Shaya; he was a porter – he carried the flour for Shabbos. He was a criminal – he was once arrested in an unfamiliar area without papers. He was the most popular character in the city. He never married. Walked fast, almost running, and grumbled under his breath, “Give me a kreutzer [Austrian coin]! Give me a kreutzer.


Dudye Morgeh

With a political trance. A Jew, a baker. It was doubtful that he could bake, but he worked his whole life with the same baker, with Mendl Flug. With a tangled, chestnut brown beard, rickety, twisted feet, always wrapped in superficial bandages, frighteningly short-sighted eyes. Dressed in old, flour-covered clothing and [speaking] a badly understood language. Did not always speak logically. His main theme was “voting.” He would be a candidate for the city council; he would become [upgraded] to the Pravent (Parliament). Pravent was the main warehouse for material from the city hall. His unnatural relationship to voting and parliament arose after the Austrian times when elections to parliament took place. It was a widely held opinion that he had been normal then and he had been beaten during the voting and became a little confused because of the blows and “parliament” always troubled him. On Shabbos, he would


Dudye Morgeh

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go to pray dressed in clean and neat [clothing]. In general, he acted normal. However, if a “comrade” made a joke about him, they brought out the theme of “voting” and asked him to give a [campaign] speech. His speech was mixed with Yiddish-German and Polish. “A protest” against the city hall arrangements, to destroy the bad fruit in the street stalls.

Dudye more or less gave his speech…murmuring unintelligible words and ending with, “As it burned, the beard did not drown.” Rascals bothered him, but he had his means of support earned with honest work. On the eve of the outbreak of the First World War, Dudye went on a stroll in the woods. A gendarme met him and asked, “Who are you and what are you doing?” [Dudye] did not know a great deal of Polish, but he had to answer. He said, “Ick bin a royber [I am a robber].” Being arrested and being brought to the city, they met a Jew who knew the gendarme very well. He asked him why he had stopped [Dudye]. [The gendarme] said that he is a royber. Dudye had meant that he was a reyber [grater] – he grated potatoes for Khaya…at her bakery. Dudye was a little confused, but a pious and honest Jew.


Avrahamtse Khalemka

He grew up to be boorish, with a large, moving, meaty nose. His nose was his main characteristic. First one saw his nose and then his face. A very simple young man with a bad expression, a blunt nasal voice, a little deaf with an ear trumpet. He was once an artisan but did not work very much, and did not live from donations. He would travel far from the city and return dressed up after a time. In recent years, he suffered from want and Jews supported him. He would disguise himself on Purim, visit the houses, and receive Purim's money. Relatives in America would send him a few dollars and thus he carried on his life. His specialty was an acrobatic turn with his rear and moving his large, fleshy nose, he made a racket, banging musically, which would evoke laughter from the audience. He had relatives in the city who would make sure he was clean and also had a little warm food. He perished with all of the Jews in the Shoah.


Avrahamtse Chalemka


Hershele Dzia Hop

[He was] a son of Moyna, the egg-seller, a middle-class family. [He became] a little half-witted through a childhood illness and from the mischief-makers. [He was] young and had a nice enough face; once studied in a kheder [religious primary school]; he knew how to pray and was very pious. He lived with his family and honestly earned his piece of bread. He had to carry water to the house owners; he did not want to bring [water] to everyone. One had to ask him for a long time. His reason was that they teased him with the cry of “Hershele Dzia, Dzia Hop.” He would jump on the back of the person next to him, like a bull on a cow. In general, he carried on normally. He recited a great number of Psalms and was very pious. He made sure to pray on time. He perished like everyone in the Shoah.

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Z.K.S - The Jewish Athletes Club

by Dr. Eliezer Shaklai

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Jane S. Gabin

With the outbreak of the First World War, only a few Jews were involved in Sports. These were the students of the high school and a few from among the working youth. Anybody with a strong affinity for sports had no choice but to join the Polish club, “Sokol,” where he was not looked upon favorably.

In 1921 a classmate, Vandmeir, turned to me with a proposal to organize a Jewish soccer team based on the example of the Polish team. We contacted several other friends and began to play soccer without shoes, proper uniforms, or a soccer field. At that time, we still did not have an executive committee or gatherings and did not even know the rules of the soccer game. Everything was amateurish, and anything we did know, we learned from the other teams' games.

Thanks to our stubbornness to solidify a Jewish team, we overcame the in-house and outside difficulties, starting with the parents' objections, who consider our games as “gentiles' behavior,” and ending with the lack of sports equipment.

Despite all the difficulties, with the help of a large group of students from the high school, we founded a Jewish sports club in 1921 in the name of “Z.K.S. [Zydowski Klub Sportowy – The Jewish Sports Club] Brzezany.”

The club was divided into two sections, Soccer and Track and Field.

We became a good team within a short period. In 1929, we participated in a tournament in our district and came in first place. That achievement awarded us recognition by the Polish Sports Association (L.O.Z.P.N), and we became associated with teams in the Polish second league.

The number of sports the fans grew and grew, and by 1930, our team had about 100 members who came from both the learning and working youth circles. In the same year, the Polish army organized a pre-military group within our club, training for the Polish military service (P. W.).

An executive committee was elected at the 1930 general assembly. The people elected to the committee were: chairman - Shimon Meiblum, his deputy – Yosef Laber, secretary – Leib Frid, and treasurer – Moshe Katz. The rest of the members were Shlomo Riger, Yosef Nebel, Shimon Bleiberg, and Yosef Lopater.

The coach of the team had the name Yerumovitz. With the help of his lobbying, we were awarded the right to use the municipal field for practices and games.

That activity was ceased upon the entrance by the Soviets.


A group of soccer fans – 1930

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Z.K.S. in 1923


A group of gymnastic girls under the guidance of Y. Laufer (on left), and G. Biterman (on right)


A coaching certificate given to Y. Laufer by [the sports organization] “Maccabi” in 1936.
The certificate was approved by the Polish Sports Authority


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The Craftsmen organization “Yad Kharutzim” [Diligent Hand]

by Menakhem son of Shimon Katz

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Jane S. Gabin

The craftsmen in our town founded the organization “Yad Kharutzim” [Diligent Hand] on 20 October 1901. The objective was mutual aid, and they had a credit union. They also founded a synagogue on Shterzhatzka [?] Street (see the chapter on Brzezany synagogues in this book, page 250], where they held their gatherings. The organization ceased to operate, for an extended period, during the First World War, because of the cutback in production and the scattering of the members who escaped the city due to the war activities.

The organization renewed its operation only in 1928. The synagogue underwent a refurbishment and the extent and quality of the activities grew. The cultural activities expanded during that period. Vocational courses for the working youth were organized, and financial and professional support to the members grew and expanded. The revenues of the organization revenues came mainly from membership fees, donations by wealthy members, and support from the community. The revenues from a Purim ball held once a year also benefited the organization.

Hirsh Shnaper was elected as the chairman during 1926 – 1932. Khaim Mariash was elected the secretary. The following members were elected as members of the executive committee:

Bilig Shimon, Berger Hirsh, Berger Shimon, Gutenplan Tola, Diamant Kasriel, Veintraub Yosef, Maler Oren, Feld Shalom-Mendel, Shtreizand Yosef, Shtern Zelig, and Rotin Ben-Tzion

There were 86 members in the organization during the 1930s. They elected the dental technician Bernard Leider as their chairman. Thanks to his vigor, organizational skills, and sense of humor, the organization became a respectable institution with elevated professional ability and cultural level, and it competed with the counterpart non-Jewish organizations in the city. With the break of the Second World War, the organization dissolved like all other Jewish organizations.


The People House – Plan of the second floor
The People House – Plan of the first floor


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The People House – Natzional Hauz

by Menakhem son of Shimon Katz

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Jane S. Gabin

The People House [Community House] was an important cultural asset for the Brzezany community. The house, called “Natzional Hauz” [National House] by the residents, was located at the end of Zbozova Street, close to a small bridge over the river's branch. The name People House carries a hint about its purpose and importance.

For many years, the hearts of the people of the community and its leaders were filled with envy and sorrow about the fact that the Ukrainians and the Poles had their own cultural halls, which they rented to the Jewish residents when needed. Many years later, the idea of a community center came to fruition. It was the physician, Dr. B. Flick, a Jew with national pride, who made it his target, to which he aspired vigorously and continuously and urged everybody who could help him to reach it.

A public committee for building the house was established under the initiative of Dr. Flick, and he was chosen to be the chairman. Thanks to his inexhaustible energy, he lobbied his rich family in the US, and the plot for the house was purchased with a donation by the family.

Most of the funds for financing the construction of the house came from Dr. Flick's brother in the US and his own donation. The construction lasted long years due to the lack of an ongoing budget.

The house's luxurious inauguration, attended by a large crowd, was held on 4 January 1930. The house, which was devoted to public needs and utilization by the community, was registered as the property of the Jewish orphanage.

An impressive building was erected at the heart of the Jewish neighborhood. At the center of the building were the two halls: the main show hall with stands around it and a smaller hall adjacent to it. Spacious stairs on the southwestern side of the building led to a foyer and from there to the main hall. A door to the small hall opened from there as well. The stairs continued to the second floor, where the large stand and the individual booths were along the main hall. The corridor on top of the stairs that led to the booths on the east side also led to the series of offices on the west side, which served the community committee. An additional staircase serving all the floors (including the cellar that housed a series of storage rooms and the apartment of the house caretaker) was located on the side of the stage on the northwestern side of the building. On the side of that staircase was a study room that served the Hebrew school of the “HaPoel HaMizrakhi” movement.

The main hall and stage were adorned with decorative plaster cornices. The booths were sunken into the body of the corridor with exaggerated an elliptic protruding into the hall. Plaster columns with round slots separated them from the floor and rose to the ceiling. All the floors were made with oak parquet, and the entire finish was well-made using state-of-the-art materials.

The main hall, which could contain up to 400-500 people, was utilized mainly for shows, gatherings, and various public events. Weddings were also held there. The drama club also showed his numerous plays in the house as well as troupes from outside of the city,

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ranging from the Vienna Operetta to tiny troupes. Public figures held gatherings here. Among others, the following people appeared in the People's House: [Ya'akov] Zrubavel, Dr. [Wolfgang] von Weisel, author Tversky, folk singer [Nakhum] Sternheim, and many more.

That ebullient and active center served the community from 1930 until the outbreak of the Second World War. During the war years of 1939 – 1941, the People's House was used for various purposes according to the Soviet regime's wishes. The Nazi oppressor used its halls to concentrate Jews before their expulsion to concentration camps. With the liberation of the city by the Red Army in 1944, after all the other city's public halls were destroyed, the People's Home became the only movie theater, and that was how I remember it, standing isolated and erect above a large plane, which was one filled with Jewish structures, purposely destroyed by the Nazis.

That People's Home was the only remnant of the Jewish neighborhood, standing like a gravestone and reminding passers-by that: “Jews once lived and worked here, and I, in my existence, memorialize them.”

The Orphanage

by Menakhem son of Shimon Katz

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Jane S. Gabin

Many orphans remained in the city after the First World War without patronage or a roof over their heads. The streets served as the home, and the cellars were a place to sleep for many kids who ran around the city's alleys. Pity and sorrow filled all those who delved into the problem and thought about the future of those children.

The phrase “Save the orphans” was born. The ladies Rozia Reikh, Augusta Milkh, Henrika Goldberg, and others organized and established the “Organization of Jewish Women,” which granted patronage to those street children. With the help of that organization, the children were placed in private homes, some for a fee and others for free.

In 1920, a reorganization occurred in the “organization of Jewish Women.” As a result, the name was changed to the “Organization for Watching Over the Jewish Orphans.”

Thanks to the substantial support from Brzezany landsmen in the USA and the initiative and backing by the family of Yitzkhak and Rozia Feld from Philadelphia, the organization purchased a house on Shterzhtzka Street and founded an orphanage there.

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Most of the work, organization, and support of the orphanage was done by volunteers - activists who dedicatedly devoted many years in the spirit of loving others, to sustain the existence of the orphanage.

Dr. Tz. Reikh, Dr. P. Pomerantz, and Judge W. Tadnier served as chairmen and managers of the institution. The last chairman was the high school teacher Professor David Horovitz, a member of the municipal council. He was respected by all the population classes (was sent to the killing camp in Belzec).

The management team of the orphanage included the following : Meshel Lebel – an industrialist, the pharmacists Henrik Pohoriles and Mark Kurtzman, Dr. S. Fridman, lawyer Shlomo Glazer, Mrs. Rozia Reikh, Mrs. Ada Pomerantz, teacher Yoakhim Shleikher, and the merchants Leizer Bernshtien, Karol Altein, and Yehoshua-Mordekhai Taler.

Much effort and hard work for the benefit of the institution were invested by lawyer Bronislav Fridman, the manager of the sawmill, Y, Greif.

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Charity and Mutual Aid Institutes

by Dr. Eliezer ShaklaiMenakhem son of Shimon Katz

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Jane S. Gabin

Like in the rest of the Jewish cities, our city organized various charity and mutual aid institutions out of a collective sense of responsibility for the welfare of the entire community. The view of the generational Jewish tradition and Halakha were also factors. Due to a lack of documentary materials (which may be found in archives), I would only provide a few words on these organizations and the institutes that operated in the city during the last few years before the Second World War:


“Parnasat Aniyim” [“Livelihood for the Poor”] group

That accomplished group provided economic aid to the city's poor. That aid included cash, clothing, firewood (in the winter), and daily and Shabbat dishes. Among its other responsibilities was to ensure the supply of Kosher food to patients at the state hospital and inmates in jail. They also organized a Passover Seder for Jewish soldiers who served in the Polish army stationed in the city.

The group's operations were multifaceted thanks to the tireless energy of its chairman, who sacrificed himself for the public interest – Moshe Shpitzen (see the article about him, page 202).

It operated under the guidance of Rabbi Moshe for many years. Its members included the following people: Simkha Binem-Heler, Y. Khayut, Rabbi Khaim Halperin, Ya'akov Goldman, Laibish Rozenberg, Khaim Kahana, Yitzkhak Toiber, Leizer Berenshtien, and Y. Kornbaum.


“Parnasat Aniyim” group, Brzezany
(The order of sitting and standing people was assumed)

Sitting from left to right: S. B. Heler, Y. Khayut, Rabbi Moshe Shpitzen, Rabbi Khaim Halperin, Y. Goldman, L.
Standing: Rozenberg. Kh. Kahana, Y. Toiber, L. Bernshtein, Y. Kornbaum

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Passover Seder for the Jewish soldiers in the 51st Battalion of the Polish Army, 1930


“Bikur Kholim” [“Visiting the Sick”] Society

People with a humanitarian sense belonged to that society. They volunteered to assist sick people in their time of need, particularly poor or lonely Jews who did not have anybody who could help them. The organization members visited sick people to encourage them and provide advice or financial or medical assistance when needed. A small hospital of the Jewish community (about ten beds) operated under their supervision and guidance. Poor or chronic patients who could not stay at home, due to their disease, stayed there.


“Gmilat Khesed” [“Bestowing Kindness”] Society

That society was a miniature financial institution that provided short-term, interest-free loans to anybody, particularly the needy. In some rare cases, they converted the loan to a grant.


“Tzedaka Ve'Khesed” [“Charity and Kindness”] Society

Like “Gmilat Khesed,” this fund provided loans, but loans for longer periods and higher amounts. The society's objective was to provide substantial support to people whose financial situation had deteriorated. Usually, these people kept their situation confidential. The organization followed the commandment of “Somekh Noflim” [“Supporting the Fallen”]. They succeeded in many cases to revive defunct businesses. Shalom Apel headed that organization.


“Malbish Arumim” [“Clothing the Naked”] Society

The head of that society was a prominent public figure, Dr. Ya'akov Ravitz. Due to his energetic and authoritative nature, he managed to interest many people who dedicated themselves to collecting clothing, mainly winter clothing, and distributing them among the city's poor. From time to time, they conducted operations to collect money. They would then buy new clothes and distribute them to the needy, including the orphanage children.


The Organization for Mutual Aid of the Jewish Academic Youth

The Organization for Mutual Aid was founded in July 1927 through the initiative of members Shimon Trauner and Zigmund Hess. The Objective of the Jewish Academic Youth Organization was to organize the Jewish youths in the city into a nonaffiliated movement and bring them closer to the rest of the youth by arranging meetings, lectures, and symposiums. The organization helped poor students with tuition and textbooks. Money was collected from membership fees, donations, and assistance from the Jewish community. The organization had about 80 members, including some who studied abroad. Zigmund Bleiberg headed the organization in the 1930s.

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Educational Institutes

by Menakhem son of Shimon Katz

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Jane S. Gabin

The high school stood out among the schools in the city – the elementary schools for boys and girls (in two separate buildings), a vocational school, and a female teacher seminary. The latter institution resided on the second floor of the town hall from the day of its establishment. A new large building was about to be inaugurated in the fall of 1914, but the events of the First World War prevented the holding of the start of the school year. During the First World War, the building served various military purposes. Only in 1925 was the building renovated and reoccupied. The luxurious and spacious building, with all its equipment and the gym, served many students between the two World Wars, including Jewish students.

During the Nazi conquest, the building became an office building, serving the district manager. After the Second World War, it became a school again under the Soviet regime; however, there were no Jewish students in it.

Anti-Semitism in the High School,
The Zvirski Affair

By Shlomo Doron–Dorfman

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Jane S. Gabin

The Polish linguistics teacher – Zvirski- taught me in the sixth class of the state high school in Brzezany. He was the dragon of all Jewish students. His contempt and hatred for the Jews drove him crazy. Since he was fundamentally corrupt, he began to demand “payments” from the parents of his Jewish students. He used Jewish intermediaries – conscienceless people – who were in touch with his wife and not directly with him.

I was a good student, including in Polish linguistics. I even served as a tutor (a senior student who provided lessons for weak students). Since my parents refused to pay a bribe for me, following my pleas and assurances that I was an excellent student, Zvirsky was cruel toward me and gave me an unjustified failing grade.

My resentment and my parents' anger led to trying to organize all the Jewish parents whose children were subjected to extortion; however, most parents were afraid to join, fearing that they would be prosecuted for collaborating in a crime. My parents insisted and hired a private investigator who researched the method of extortion and accumulated sufficient satisfactory pieces of evidence for the prosecutor to put the teacher on trial.

[Page 135]

I was forced to leave the city, and I moved to Lviv. I was accepted to the state high school there and scored excellent grades at the end of my studies, including in Polish linguistics. “Very Good” in Polish served as assistive evidence at the district court in Brzezany. Due to the large number of witnesses, most of whom were Brzezany residents, all three judges were transferred to Brzezany for that trial from the district court in Lviv. The prosecutor in Zvirski's trial was a Ukrainian named Boiko.

The trial lasted more than a year. Promises were given by the prosecutor to the parents of the involved children that no harm would come to them or their children due to testimony. Although legally, they were also criminals.

Zvirski hired two lawyers, both Jewish – Goldshlag and the late Lufter. Both were honest people who fulfilled their professional duty to the best of their ability. The entire Jewish press throughout Poland and the Polish press reported widely about the trial.

Zvirski and his wife were convicted in the trial and sentenced to one year in jail and a substantial fine. Zvirski's wife was pregnant, and hers was converted to a suspended sentence.

I met Zvirski again when I was an eighth-year student in Lviv, just before the matriculation exams. I went to see a movie one evening, and he was the pathetic cashier who sold me the ticket; he recognized me, smiled, and did not say anything but lowered his head in shame.

Upon emigrating to Eretz Israel, with my parents and brother, I registered at the teacher seminary “David Yelin” in Jerusalem. I have been serving as a teacher in Israel since I completed my studies at the seminary and the Hebrew University,

I served in the [British] Brigade during the Second World War. After the war, I stayed in Europe and worked on organizing the education system of the children - refugees of the Holocaust and transferring them from Italy to Israel.

The school I have been managing until today is called “Geulim” [Redeemed]. That name was taken from the name of one of the groups in the school for the Holocaust children that I managed in Italy.

That is my life, such a life – I am alive, a Brzezany native.


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