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[Page 220]

The “Eden” Kindergarten

The town also had a private bilingual kindergarten (Polish and Hebrew), named “Eden,” managed by Ms. Genia Bien (now a teacher at an ulpan in Tel Aviv), where small children were educated in the spirit of national Judaism. The Hebrew songs which the infants learned in the kindergarten, and the celebrations held at Jewish holidays, imbibed the homes of the children's parents with a Jewish, Zionist atmosphere.

 

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Genia Bien's Kindergarten

 

Vocational School for Girls

In 1920 Deborah[10] Citron initiated the establishment of a society for encouraging vocational education among Jewish youth: “Towarzystwo warsztatow dla mlodziezy zydowskiej.” The Society's first activity was an educational workshop, which was opened in a rented apartment on Dworskiego St. The fist students, mostly young women who had been orphaned during the Fist World War, studied sewing and embroidery, taught by professional teachers, and were paid for their work. The girls' level of education was extremely poor, because they had barely had any schooling, due to the war. Deborah Citron's daughter, Dr. Olga Citron[11], devoted her spare time – at the time she was a teacher at the gimnazjum for girls – to improving the girls' education, and she taught them general knowledge in the framework of an elementary school.

This educational workshop served as the basis for a proper vocational school, which was established in 1924, under the direction of Dr. Olga Citron, who devoted all her energy, education, and admirable qualities to the development of the institution. It was not by any means an easy task during those times, to impart to certain strata of the Jews of Przemysl the recognition that girls must also be given a respectable vocational training, and that vocational school was not intended only for the ungifted. By means of systematic publicity, Dr. Citron managed to earn the trust of the parents, and the number of girls registered for the school increased each year.

[Page 221]

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The school laboratory

 

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The art & craft school building for Jewish girls

 

The school had a three-year curriculum, and met the requirements of the Ministry of Education and Culture. Hebrew studies were compulsory. Apart from scholastics, the girls studied sewing, embroidery, weaving and carpet-making. Classes in home economics were added in 1931, and a learning kitchen was opened. The school held evening classes in sewing and cooking, for adult students.

During its first years, the school operated in a rented apartment, in the house owned by Y. Thumim. Later, it moved to a building at 12 Lukasinskiego St., built in 1929 with the financial support of the J.C.A company (“Ika”), and with contributions from various public groups and private individuals. J.C.A also provided the equipment, such as sewing machines, looms, etc.

The school budget was partially covered by the tuition and the workshop income. J.C.A and the Ministry of Education and Culture gave a fixed annual support to the school. The school also had a committee of 7 members, chosen from among Przemysl public figures, which served as an advisory board for the school management in organizational and budgetary problems. The committee included: Dr. Jacob Glanz, Shmuel Babad, Prof. G. Teich, Dr. A. Schutzman, Dr. I. Sohn. The secretary was Chana Seldowitz-Epstein (now in Jerusalem).

In 1938 there were 170 students in the school.

The composition of teachers in the institution was as follows: Dr. Olga Citron, Ms. Karua[12], Ms. Rosa, the Seldowitz sisters, Ms. Hecht, Mgr. Schwadron, Zisie Taub, Jacob Koritan.

 

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The teachers at the arts & crafts school for girls, 1934
In the middle, Dr. Olga Citron

 

[Page 223]

Boarding School for Apprentices

One of the institutions which was the pride of the Jewish community in Przemysl was the Noar Haoved “Bursa” boarding school, “Bursa zydowskiej mlodziezy rekodzielniczej.”

The initiators of the boarding school were craftsmen from the “Yad Charutzim” society. In 1926, when the economic crisis severely damaged the Jewish workshops, they were unable to keep and pay for apprentices. The number of people training in crafts was decreasing, and at the same time the options for productive education of large sectors of the youth, were diminishing. The activists believed that the establishment of a boarding school, where the trainees would live and also acquire a profession, under the guidance of experienced craftsmen, would solve the problem.

The boarding school was built on a lot dedicated for this purpose by the City of Przemysl in 1927, on King Leszczynski St. “Yad Charutzim” set up the building committee, which was comprised of the engineers: S. Schaffer[13], M. Jawetz, H. Bazar, A. Guttman, Dr. Scheinbach and M. Schatzker. A special society by the name of “Friends of the Jewish Working Youth School” was established, led by: Leon Nessenfeld, Dr. Gottdank, Josef Strudler, Friedmann, Leib Pillersdorf, Reinhartz and Dr. Izaak Sohn. It began to raise the necessary funds.

The City of Przemysl gave 25,000 for this purpose. The municipal savings fund contributed 5,000 zloty, the Jewish community gave 20,000 zloty, and the Jewish public contributed 45,000. The cornerstone of the building was erected on April 17, 1935.

The planning and supervision were carried out by engineer Slo Schaffer[14]. The building had two stories, and was equipped with all conveniences, able to house up to 100 students. A spacious dining room was built, as well as a library room, showers, study rooms and housing.

The house-warming was held on February 2, 1937, with the presence of the city dignitaries. The following words were engraved on the memorial plaque which was set in the entrance to the building:

The Society of Jewish Craftsmen, “Yad Charutzim,” dedicates this temple to the Jewish Noar Haoved, to be a place for the formation of character, the molding of fine character, the nurturing of love for the crafts, and education towards good citizenship.

 

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The Jewish Boarding School

[Page 224]

Religious Educational Institutions

1. Talmud Torah

The institute was housed in its own building by the “Beit Talmud” society, headed by Abraham Diller, a religious activist in town.

The number of students in 1938 was 150. Most of them were children of poor families who were unable to afford tuition. They studied Torah, according to the traditional cheder curriculum. The teaching staff included a headmaster and four teachers. The annual budget was small, roughly 9,000 zloty (1,800 dollars). The community contributed a sum of 1,200 zloty, and the rest was covered by membership fees and by collections taken from time to time.

2. “Bais Yakov” School for Girls

The religious school for girls, “Bais Yakov,” was maintained by a society of the same name. There were approximately 120 students there, some 40% of whom paid no tuition. The students received a religious education acceptable for religious women, and general education at the level of an elementary school. The institution was mainly supported by donations from the kahal and from a small contribution from the community, in the amount of 600 zloty a year (120 dollar).

The institution was directed by Abraham Diller.

 

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A group photograph with no caption
The sign held by one of group members says: “Beit Talmut Society. Przemysl”. (ed.)

 

3. “Eitz Haim” Yeshiva

The yeshiva was comprised of three classes, and some 200 students. It had no building of its own, and was spread over three locations – in the klois, in the minyan of the Vassyatin Chassidim, and at Rabbi Itzeleh[15]. Each class had an educational supervisor, whose duty was to teach the children Torah and good manners.

The first class was a kind of preparatory class for the study of Gemara, and was managed by the melamed[16] Rabbi Itscheleh[17].

The second class taught more intensive knowledge of the Gemara and introduced the world of the poskim[18]. Its teacher was Der Istriker[19]. The third class prepared the students for their own mastery of the Shas[20] and the poskim, as well as introducing them to the broad world of Din Yisrael. The teacher of the third class was Der Birtscher[22]. After finishing the third class, the students could elect to study at the high yeshiva, to obtain Rabbinical ordination.

The yeshiva was directed by Yisrael Siedwartz and Shlomo Hister.

[Page 225]

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Report card of a student at the “Eitz Haim” Yeshiva

 

4. The High Yeshiva

The Yeshiva was established in 1924 by the Council of Gdolei Hatorah in Poland, belonging to “Aggudath Yisrael,” under the leadership of Rabbi Meir Shapira from Lublin. Some 200 young men from Przemysl and the environs studied in it. The studies were held in the “ezrat hanashim[23] in the klois, and in the great Beit Midrash. The curriculum included shas and poskim.

The Yeshiva directors were Rabbi Shimshon Fogelman and Rabbi Shabtai Segal. The committee in support of the Yeshiva, which was supported by the “Aggudah,” included: Rabbi Efraim Nussbaum, Rabbi Hershele Steiner, Rabbi Jacob Hirschfeld, Rabbi Shmuel Babad, the head of the community, and Rabbi Yehoshua Wiederkehr, the presiding judge in the town, Meir Liebreich[24], Abraham Diller, Feibel Jolles and Motel Laub.

From among the students of the Yeshiva, the following are in Israel: Rabbi Efraim Weinberger[i] , rabbi of the “Yad Eliyahu” neighborhood in Tel Aviv, Shalom Rokeach, Shlomo Tuchman (Sollel Boneh[25]) , Moshe Schwartz (Kupat-Am[26]) , and Moshe Wilner.

 

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The high Yeshiva
Sitting from left, second row: F. Silfen, A. Diller, M.L. Reich, M. Laub, Y. Hirschfeld, Rabbi Wiederkehr, S. Babad, H. Steiner, S. Langsam, A. Nussbaum


Original Footnote:

  1. Died in 1963. Back


Translator's and Editor's Footnotes:

  1. Deborah Citron. First name spelled “dalet, bet, vav, resh, hey”. Dorota Leviner wrote to the editor: “Aunt Cirtonowa, nee Ehrlich, was my Grandfather's sister. Her first name was DORA. It is possible that Deborah is how the name is [spelled] in Hebrew but she was always known in Przemysl as Dora Citron, and in the family as Auntie Dora.” (ed.) Back
  2. Dorota Leviner wrote to the editor: “ I was very touched by the paragraph about the Vocational School for Girls. I remember well the development of the Vocational School – the dedicated work of Pani Doktor – Olga Citron. Her extermination was an immeasurable loss for the sciences. She [held] a PhD in chemistry, physics and philosophy and was respected within the scientific comminity” (ed.) Back
  3. Karua [?]. Spelling: qof, resh, vav (shuruk), hey” (ed.). Back
  4. Schaffer. Spelled with an “a umlaut” (ed.). Back
  5. Schaffer. Spelled with an “a umlaut” (ed.). Back
  6. Itzeleh, spelled “alef, yod, tsadi, lamed, hey”. A diminutive for Izaak/ Itshak. The last name not known. However, the name index has a listing of a rabbi Itschele (sic!) Melamed for this page. Also see footnote 33 and 34 (ed.) Back
  7. Hebrew for 'teacher', or 'tutor' – usually refers to a cheder teacher. (tr.) Back
  8. Itscheleh, spelled “alef, yod, tsadi, apostrophe, lamed, hey. The text suggests that this person's position was melamed (teacher). However, the name index has a listing of a rabbi Itschele (sic!) Melamed for this page (ed.). Back
  9. Lit. 'deciders' (Hebrew) – refers to the literature containing the Rabbinic authorities' pronouncements on halachic
    questions. (tr.) Back
  10. Der Istriker (spelled “dalet, ayin, resh, (new word) alef, yod, samekh, tet, resh, yod, qof, ayin, resh”). Suzan Wynne has provided the editor with an explanation that this name refers to The Istriker. This is a nickname meant for someone who was from the town of Istrik, Ustrzyki Dolne (ed.) Back
  11. Hebrew acronym shin-sin, which stands for “shisha sdarim” – the six Orders of the Mishnah. (tr.) Back
  12. Jewish Law. (tr.) Back
  13. Der Birtscher, spelled “dalet, ayin, resh, (new word) bet/vet, ayin, resh, tsadi, apostrophe, ayin, resh”. Because of the “ayin” following the “bet”, this word may have been mistakenly transliterated as “Der Bertscher”. Thank you to Suzan Wynne for providing the following explanation: “I suspect that the name is Birtscher for the town of Bircza. Bircza was nearby, though not in the same district. The ayin is somewhat convertible for the sound of “i”, “e” and even sometimes, “a”. Much depends on the way people pronounce words since there is no flat rule on the conversion of the Roman alphabet to Yiddish.” (ed.) Back
  14. The women's gallery in a synagogue. (tr.) Back
  15. Liebreich. Spelled “lamed, yod, yod, bet, resh, yod, kaph”. Possible alternative spelling: Liebrach (ed.). Back
  16. A large construction company in Israel. (tr.) Back
  17. An Israeli bank. (tr.) Back

 

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