« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 44]

The History of the City and Its Jewish Community {cont.}

After all this, most of the settlement of Lida's Jews remained dependent on commerce, both wholesale and resale, willingly or unwillingly (and maybe, for greater precision, from custom.)

The Jewish merchant class was organized, in order to stand up to any bully in it. The “Merchants' Association” (housed in the building of the “Italia” hotel), at whose head Gedaliah Tchertok stood for a long time, represented well the Jewish merchant community vis-vis the government, and offered advice and guidance to its members in matters of laws and regulation. With the help of the Central Bank in Vilna, the Jewish National Bank was established, under the management of Ze'ev Sokolovski, which served any Jew in need of a short-term loan for any purpose, and also greatly assisted the small merchants with their commerce. In its wake, the Merchants' Bank also arose for a period of some time (in 1928), under the management of Avraham Levit. Its clientele was principally from the members of the merchant class.


Jewish Education

The Jews of Lida showed vigorous activity in the area of education. The call for complete Jewish education, which united in it the Jewish foundation and general humanism, emerged in Lida even before the World War, from the yeshiva of Rabbi Reines. With the end of the war, Rabbi Reines' yeshiva did not resume in Lida. The requirements changed. The need was felt for a Jewish national school, which would be able to compete with the government school in terms of the general knowledge that it instilled and which would also grant a Hebrew education to its pupils, in the spirit of Jewish tradition and the national aspirations of the Jewish nation in the new era. Founded by Niuta Rabinovitz (Arkin), may her memory be for a blessing, and her friend (her future husband) Matityahu Rubin, may he be distinguished for long life (now in Haifa), the kindergarten and the national Hebrew school began to be established. The task was difficult. Without financial means for a building, furniture and equipment, they settled for the time being on a temporary location,


Teachers and Communal Workers of the “Culture” School
(at the start of the 1920s)

First row bottom, seated from right to left: The Teachers: 1. Mrs. Markoles 2. Mrs. Tula Tchartzin 3. Mrs. Niuta Rabinovitz (Rubin) 4. The Director Matityahu Rubin 5. Unidentified 6. The Secretary Tania Zhyzhemski 7. Ze'ev Sokolovski
Second row, standing: 8. Mordechai Krupski (Ariav) 9. Rosenstein 10. Karpeiski 11. The Teacher Sh. Kalikow (Dr. Barkli) 12. Unidentified 13. The Teacher Yeruzolimski
Third row, top: 14: Klephts 15. Unidentified 16. Unidentified 17. Unidentified 18. Unidentified


The Hebrew Gymnasia “Culture” in Lida in the Year 5683 [1923]

[Page 45]

The Group of the Functionaries of “Culture” at the Farewell Ball
for the School Director Mr. Fishman (in the center)


The “Culture” School, Grade 3, the Year 1927


Yosef Hauptman (center) in the Group of the Zionist Youth “HaTechiya”[199] in Lida – 5688 [1828]

[Page 46]

in one of the cheders that was next to the synagogue of the Mit'askim. With this the problem of a building and furniture was temporarily resolved. And salary? Oh well, teachers in Israel always revealed a measure of frugality‚Ķ Worthy of mention is the group of communal workers who were themselves interested in giving a Hebrew education to their children, who lent a hand to the establishment of the school and its development: Yosef Ivenski, Vulf Sokolovski, Barukh Klephts (the three of them perished[200] in the Lida Ghetto), Mordechai Krupski, Karpeiski, Shaul Krasnosleski, Nachum Rozenstein (the four of them made aliyah to the land of Israel, and there they were gathered to their people),[201] and, may they be distinguished for long lives, Yaakov Ilotovitz (now in Tel Aviv), Dov Dvoretzky (New York), and others. Of the first teachers the names of Kushelevitz and Yerusalimski will be remembered. The school, which was integrated into the system of the “Tarbut” schools in Poland, evolved and expanded, and over the course of time gymnasia classes were added to it. The functionaries of the institution tried and succeeded in drawing to Lida promising young forces who acquired a name in the world of Hebrew education in Poland and in the land of Israel. Over the course of the years of existence of the gymnasia, there served in it, as administrators and teachers, Dr. Shuster (died in Israel), Dr. Zonenshein (perished in Poland), and, may they be distinguished for long live, Shaul Koliko (Dr. Shaul Barkli, Jerusalem), Parnes (in Israel), Dov Chomsky (the Hebrew poet, at the time of the writing of these lines, the secretary of the Association of Hebrew Writers in Israel). Shmuel Bernholtz did very well in his activity in Lida (previously, a teacher in the Hebrew seminar for teachers in Bialystok and afterwards


The Kindergarten of the “Tarbut” School (1930),
Directed by Yehudit Silberstein (Lando)


The Kindergarten of Tamar Yerusalimski (1930)

[Page 47]

in a seminar in Vilna. He died in New York in the year 1966). In addition to his pedagogic activity as the Director of the Gymnasia, he was also the chief speaker at every Zionist and national Hebrew activity in Lida, and won much appreciation among the national groups in the city (and as usual, also more than a few members of his disputants). His wife, Mrs. Adit Bernholtz, represented the gymnasia to the Polish government, and by merit of her broad humanistic education, greatly influenced the elevation of the level of the institution.

Over the course of time it became clear that the task to establish a Hebrew gymnasia without governmental help surpassed the power of the Lida community. After they reached the sixth grade, the activists of the institution were forced to contract it and establish it in the framework of only an elementary school with seven grades, and a kindergarten alongside it, and to establish its position from a material aspect and from the aspect of its level as one. At the recommendation of Bernholtz, the administration of the school was transferred to the hands of its veteran student, Barukh Sternberg, one of the elite students of the Hebrew seminar in Vilna. Graduates of the upper grades were forced, without a choice, to continue their studies in other places. Some of them transferred to “Tarbut” high school institutions in Vilna, and some of them transferred to the city gymnasia in Lida (entry there was easier, and the atmosphere for Jews was more comfortable than in the city gymnasia). The young Director Barukh Sternberg, also quickly became endeared to the Lida community, both as a director and educator, and as also as a lecturer to Tanakh and literature groups. The school earned a good name among the Hebrew schools founded by “Tarbut.” At that same time there was also a private kindergarten founded in the city, directed by the Kindergarten teacher Tamar Yerusalimski (today in Israel), which earned a good name.

Besides the teachers that we have already mentioned, there were others who served and taught in the school and in the kindergarten: Tova Grubner (Zahavi), Goldenberg, Yaakov Halbert, Yehudit Zilbstein (Lando), and Miriam Stutzky, all of whom are today in Israel. The Director Sternberg and his wife Breintza (of the House of Ephron),[202] together with his young daughter; Baum (a teacher of Polish), Persetzki, Kahana, Portnoy and his wife, the teacher Kravitz and his wife, who taught Polish history, perished in Lida.

The time came to see to a fixed place for the school. A construction yard was granted for free by order of the City Council. Vigorous fundraising that brought in significant sums began, and after great effort, in the year 1939 a complete building for a school with 7 grades stood on its foundation. Students of the school still remember a performance that they held with the slogan “from the ground to the rafters – and the roof?” Income from the performance was designated to assist in covering the roof, which yet remained bare.

Regretfully, the activists of the endeavor, who invested so much energy and toil into it, and envisioned it as a small tabernacle,[203] the stronghold of Hebrew education in the city, did not get to dedicate the new building. The building passed to other hands in the year 1940. And about that, in a different place in the book that is before us.

Indeed, Lida was not entirely Hebrew. There was in it also a substantial community of Yiddishists, an extremely diverse, nonunified community, from those with a political or Bundist state of mind (even though there is doubt about whether there were branches of these parties in Lida in the period after the First World War), to “Poalei Tzion,” the party program obligated them to speak Yiddish in the Diaspora, and Hebrew in the land of Israel. Part of those groups joined the Russian-speaking Jewish intelligentsia, which, with the annexation of Lida to the country of Poland, lost its reason because of their “Russification.” All of these together comprised the group (not necessarily officially organized) of seekers of education in the mother language – Yiddish. In the year 1929 a Yiddish school in the name of Shalom Aleichem[204] was established, which over the course of time branched out into the authority of the Jewish schools of the “Tzisha[205] foundation in Poland (after a Yiddish kindergarten was opened the previous year). The first teachers were the couple Yaakov Barzofsky and his wife Tzippe (of the house of Gilmovski), in two classes. The existence of the new school was difficult, especially since most of its students, and maybe all of them, came from the poorest of the people, whose payments were close to zero. The activists of this group exerted much effort in order to establish the new institution, by means of all kinds of theatrical undertakings, balls and celebrations whose income was dedicated to this purpose. In the year 1930, a bazaar was held during the days of Chanukah, which brought in a decent amount. With the permission of the Christian head of the city, the bazaar was held in the new building of the municipal public school, whose construction had just now been completed but which had not yet been dedicated. Among the activists who were devoted to this endeavor we will mention Dr. Zertzin, Dr. Kaplan, Solomon Ilotovitz, Binyamin Tzidrovitz, Chaim Stolitzki, and others, may God avenge their blood, and, may they be distinguished for long life, Hirsh Duvkovsky (now in Paris), Yeshayahu Meslovti (in Israel), and others,


A Group of Yiddish Activists
Standing from right to left: Barukh Eizik Kotlarsky, Yaakov (Yantshe) Pupko.
Seated: Moshe Konopko, ??
In the Cornerstone Laying Ceremony of the “Tarbut” School Building
From right to left: The Director Barukh Sternberg, Dov Dvoretzky,
the Lawyer Krasner, Gedalyahu Tzartok (Speaker)

[Page 48]

Yish”a Elementary School in the name of Shalom Aleichem in Lida – 1931


The “Meidim” Band
(A performance for the benefit of the school named for Shalom Aleichem)
First from right: Zalman Shapira Third from left: Liuba Beikleski-Boyarski


Membership Certificate for the branch of “HaShomer HaTzair” in Lida


residing “somewhere,” and their names are not known to us. However, the burden of exhausting daily work, both in administration and in searching for sources of income, was laid on the young shoulders of the diligent and devoted Secretary, Mrs. Luba Bikleskit (today Boyarskit, in Israel).

In the year 1934, there were already in this school seven full classes (according to the words of the Secretary mentioned above), and after a plot had been obtained for free in the drained Vigon area, after much exertion, a wooden building was erected for it.[206] We will further mention the names of the teachers that are remembered by us: M. Ididovitz, the Director of the school in the last years and also the Hebrew teacher – from among the outstanding graduates of the Yiddish Seminary in Vilna, according to what is told – a gentle-souled man of peasant ways, who merited a good name also among the other groups in the city, and besides him, Varhaftig, Luba Berez, Frankel, Chanah Kravitz, all from Vilna, and may God avenge their blood, and from Lida – Nisan Rabinovitz. Upwards of 200 children learned in the school on the eve of the outbreak of the war. The Director of the school at that time was Mr. Kaplan.

Each year in the days of summer a summer colony was held for the poor school children, mostly in the Rusliaki forest, in which students stayed from 8:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon. This important venture won great appreciation and support from all of the Jewish groups in the city.

The Dramatic Group, which was established in 1928, offered great help with the participation of the young devotees Rivka Levin, Leah'ke



  1. The Revival. Return
  2. This word almost always denotes those who died at the hands of the Nazis, by all the means known to us. Return
  3. A biblical expression meaning “died.” Return
  4. This denotes a maiden name. Return
  5. This phrase is from Ezekiel 11:16. Return
  6. Shalom Rabinovitz, 1859–1916, one of the founding fathers of modern Yiddish literature. Return
  7. Tsentraler Yiddishsher Shul – Organizatsye in der Poylisher Refublik; The Central Yiddish School - Organization in the Polish Republic. Return
  8. Original footnote 53: Mrs. Luba Bikleskit-Boyarskit knows also to give information about the distribution of support of the municipality of Lida for the needs of the Jewish schools in a certain year (she doesn't remember which) 2000 goldens to the Talmud Torah, 2000 goldens to the Yiddish school, and 6000 goldens to the “Tarbut” school. And of course, we give these numbers on her responsibility, of course. Return


« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Lida, Belarus     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2024 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 11 Jan 2023 by JH