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[Page 214]

Chapter 6

Institutions of Education and Culture

Y. A.

The Hebrew Gimnazjum

A group of public activists, led by S. Fritzhand (a teacher at the public gimnazjum), Shmuel Rosenfeld and Dr. Efraim Schutzman, decided in 1919 to establish a bilingual Jewish educational institute, in which the languages of instruction would be Hebrew and Polish. The initiative was manifested in the regulation of “The Society for a Jewish Elementary and Secondary School in Przemysl.”

According to the regulation, the purpose of the Society was to disseminate general and Jewish education among the Jewish population in town, and particularly to impart education to the Jewish youth in the subjects studied at elementary and secondary schools and in all scholastic areas of Judaism and the Jewish religion.

At first, a kindergarten was opened, directed by Henia Krochmal, who also organized a training course for kindergarten teachers. (Among the trainees were two kindergarten teachers who continued their work in Israel – Ada Blum and Esther Silfen). There were also Hebrew lessons for all sectors of the Jewish population.

 

prz214.jpg
The first Hebrew kindergarten of Miss. H. Krochmal

 

The first chairman of the Society, Dr. Efraim Schutzman, initiated the opening of the two first classes in the elementary school, in 1920, and a year later there were already four classes.

The management of the Society aspired to establish a Jewish gimnazjum where a national Jewish atmosphere and a supportive relationship between the teachers and their pupils would prevail.

[Page 215]

prz215.jpg
The first Hebrew elementary school class

 

In 1927 the first gimnazjum class opened. The school was not yet recognized by the governmental education authorities. Its name was “Gimnazjum Courses.” Each year, another class was added. At first the institute was housed in a rented building at 4 Gorna St. The first headmaster of the “Gimnazjum Courses” was Gabriel Teich, a teacher at the public gimnazjum. The headmistress of the elementary school was Julia Mayer. At the same time, a branch of the elementary school was opened in the suburb of Zasanie, thanks to the energy and initiative of Mr. Mordechai Hacke, a Zionist activist in town, the moving spirit behind the institution. Ms. Pnina Frankfurter (later an official at the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem) was a teacher at the school in Zasanie.

In 1925 the direction of the “Gimnazjum Courses” was handed over to S. Fritzhand for a short while, and later to Stanislaw Bialewski, a veteran teacher at the Polish public gimnazjum, who continued his work until 1928.

The lack of a suitable facility impeded the development of the institution somewhat. Thanks to the Society's energy and the generosity of the Jewish public in Przemysl, the situation was corrected. In 1928 the first floor of the school building was erected at 15 Tarnawskiego St. (the house-warming was held on October 14, 1928, with the presence of Rabbi Dr. Levi Freund from Lvov, representatives of the government, the city, the Jewish community and public Jewish institutions). In 1934 an additional floor was constructed.

The construction of the building and the reorganization of the school by its new headmaster, Dr. David Einhorn, was a momentous period in the development of the institute, which was officially recognized by the government authorities in Lvov.

On December 4, 1929, the institute was approved as a humanities gimnazjum of 8 classes for boys and girls. From then on, the gimnazjum developed in giant leaps. The first matriculation [matura] exam was held in 1930. The chairman of the examination committee appointed by the government was Mr. Zygmunt Skorski[1], headmaster of the Przemysl public gimnazjum. The examiner for Jewish Studies was Dr. Levi Freund from Lvov. All the candidates passed the examination. After a short period during which the headmistress of the gimnazjum was Ms. Betty Feuerman[2], the headmistress of a Jewish gimnazjum in Lvov, and Witold Nowak from the public gimnazjum, the management was transferred in 1932 to the capable hands of Dr. Yosef Ostern, who directed the institution until the destruction of Jewish Przemysl.

 

prz216.jpg
The Kindergarten Teachers Course
Sitting from left: A. Reisner, Goldberg, Lisikiewicz, G. Teich, K. Reiss, S. Fritzhand, Haendler, J. Eisen, G. Salzberg

 

In its day, the gimnazjum reached a respectable standard in both general and Jewish subjects.

The gimnazjum had its own physics, chemistry and biology laboratories, as well as a collection of geographical and historical maps. The institution housed craft rooms, a bookbindery, and workshops for carpentry, sewing and locksmithing. In 1937, the library housed 4,406 books of all types in Polish, Hebrew, German and English. The number of Hebrew books reached 498.

There were courses in Hebrew and Polish language and literature for the students. The Hebrew course offered lectures about Jewish life in the town and in Eretz Yisrael. There were courses in linguistics, geography, nature, sports and physical education, in cooperation with the military authorities.

Some 70 students belonged to the school choir. The students were given a certain degree of autonomy in the institution. The student council published a newspaper called “Hayeinu[3] in Polish and Hebrew.

There was also a parents' committee, headed by Captain M. Asher (1936) and members Dr. A. Kronberg, Prof. Rauch, Bakon and Mr. Neubort. The parents' committee assisted the gimnazjum management in the educational work and provided additional nourishment for the students. Breakfasts were provided for 200 students, 60% of them for no fee. The committee boarded some 20 poor students in summer camps and sanatoriums.

Thanks to the fine standards of the institute, in 1937 the authorities permitted the opening of a liceum [4], which offered concentrations in the humanities and the sciences.

[Page 217]

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The first teachers
Standing from left: Dr. M. Weisinger, J. Ortner, S. Wurm, B. Brettholz, Dr. M. Altbauer, J. Eisen, M. Sobel
Sitting from left: D. Kawe, G. Teich, Z. Friedmann, F. Haber, S. Bielawski, J. Mayer, C. Hecht, S. Fritzhand

 


As the institute developed, it became too small to contain all of the students, and the Society purchased a lot nearby the school in 1936. In May 1937 a committee was chosen to oversee the construction of an additional building, headed by engineer S. Schaffer[5], who prepared – for no fee – the plans for the expansion of the institution. A second committee, managed by Mr. Haim Klagsbald, the Society chairman, was responsible for collecting funds. However, the task was never accomplished. During the Second World War, the Jewish gimnazjum was demolished, as were the Jews of Przemysl. Today, a Polish educational institution operates in the building.

The number of students in the academic year of 1936-37 reached 527, including 333 in the gimnazjum and 194 in the elementary school.

Some 1.6% of the school students were orphans.

The number of teachers in 1936-37 was 21 at the gimnazjum and 5 at the elementary school.

The school secretaries were Deborah Kawe and Klara Leuchter.[6]
The first teachers at the institution were: Dr. Moshe Altbauer (now the director of the historical museum in Tel Aviv and a professor of Slavic languages at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Jacob Eisen, Joseph Ortner, Benjamin Brettholz, Feiga Haber, Cesia Hecht, Shmuel Wurm, Dr. Michael Weisinger (Ziv) (now the director of the department for secondary education at the Ministry of Education and Culture in Jerusalem), Gabriel Teich, Julia Mayer, Mordechai Sobel, Zussia Friedmann, S. Fritzhand.

In 1936-37 the teachers at the gimnazjum were the following: Dr. Joseph Ostern as headmaster, Jacob Eisen[7], Adolf Breit, Asher Eisenstein, Dr. Regina Eisner, Basia Freyer, Salomea Gelbart, Feiga Haber, Mgr. Norbert Halpern, Dr. Leon Ingber, Jacob Koritan, Dr. Nella Margulies, Joseph Ortner-Forst, Sara Ohlenberg[8], Mgr. Shabbatai [Szabse] Rappoport, Haim Shapira (a military rabbi), Ozjasz Schlesinger, Maks Stahl, Mgr. Zisie Taub, Mgr. Basia Taub, Samuel Wurm. The teachers in 1931-34 included Dr. Nathan Kudisch and his wife (now the headmaster of a Tel Aviv school).

 

prz218.jpg
Matriculation [matura] in Hebrew 1934
Sitting from left: F. Haber, M. Perlroth, Rabbi L. Freund, J. Ostern, J. Eisen, Dr. N. Kudisch

 

The teachers at the elementary school were: Maria Feld, Julia Mayer, Roza Nagler, Anna Reben, Mgr. Leon Salzman. The institute physicians were: Dr. Marcin Aberdam and Dr. Bertha Mermelstein.

The management Society for the elementary and secondary schools included Dr. Efraim Schutzman as chairman, Moshe Perlroth, and from 1936 – Mr. Haim Klagsbald.

The management members from 1919 until 1939 were: Shmuel Rosenfeld, Eliyahu Schweber, Dr. Nathan Halpern, Baruch Blumenfeld, Leon Amster, Shlomo Brenner, Abraham Kahane (avrech) (died in Tel Aviv), Yehoshua Engelhardt[9], engineer Emanuel Guttman, Efraim Katz, Pappi Mermelstein, David Katz, Shimon Mieses, Captain Morys Rauch, Dr. Michal Buksbaum, Dr. Baruch Fried, Asher Tuchman, Dr. Dov Knopf (Nitzani), Dr. Zvi Reichman (died in Tel Aviv), Melech Zucker, Yehoshua Landman, Lipa Galler, engineer Mendel Jawetz, Dr. Benjamin Teich, Shimon Morgenroth, Moshe Rinde.

In 1936 there were 171 Society members.

The budget in 1936 was 168,293 zloty (equivalent to approximately 34,000 dollars at the time). The City of Przemysl contributed 2,000 zloty a year, and the Jewish community contributed 2,400 zloty. The community also contributed 10,000 zloty for the construction of the building.

[Page 219]

prz219a.jpg
The management of the Society for the school
Standing from left: D. Katz, S. Engelhardt, Blumenfeld, Amster, S. Fritzhand, A. Kahane, - - -, E. Katz
Sitting from left: S. Rosenfeld, M. Katz, M. Perlroth, S. Mieses, P. Mermelstein

 

prz219b.jpg
High School Building

 

Translator's and Editor's Footnotes:

  1. Skorski or Sikorski (ed.). Back
  2. Feuerman. Spelled “phe, yod, yod, resh, mem, nun”. Possible spelling alternative: Feyerman, Feierman (ed.). Back
  3. Hebrew for “our life.” (tr.) Back
  4. Liceum -- in the period immediately preceding World War II – the last two grades of highschool (ed.) Back
  5. Schaffer – spelled with an “a umlaut”. (ed.) Back
  6. Leuchter [?]. Spelled “lamed, vav, yod, khaf, tet, resh”. Possible alternatives??? Back
  7. Eisen. Alternate spelling: Ajzen (ed.). Back
  8. Ohlenberg. Spelled with an “o umlaut”. (ed.) Back
  9. Engelhardt. Alternative spelling: Engelhert (ed.). Back

 

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