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[Page 198]

Organisations of culture
and Haskalah in Sanok


The Sanok Folksfreund Weekly, and its
founding editor Avraham (Edelbert) Scheinbach

Translated by Jerrold Landau

To our dismay, we did not succeed in obtaining complete information and full detail about Avraham Chaim (or as he was called by everyone: Edelbert) Scheinbach. We must therefore suffice ourselves with the words brought down here, taken in short form from the lexicon of Zalman Reisin (Lexicon of Jewish Literature, Press and Philology”, pages 851-852.)

Scheinbach, Avraham (-Chaim) (March, 19, 1893). He was born in Sanok, western Galicia, the son of a merchant. He received a traditional Hassidic education and studied foreign languages as an autodidact. He basked in the shadow of various Tzadikim in Galicia. He got married when he was 18. He then visited the countries of central Europe and the Balkans. In 1909, he was a delegate to the Zionist congress in Hamburg. From 1899, he wrote articles from time to time in the Yiddish Tagblatt of Budapest, the Algemeine Yiddishe Zeitung, Yiddishe Nachrichten of Czernowicz, Folk-Blatt, Yiddishes Vachenblatt, Yung Juda, Izraelite of Frankfurt, and Hametzpeh of Krakow. He would sign as well with the names A”P, Av”n Shoha”m, Achsh”h, and A”Sh. From 1909, he edited and published the Folksfreund weekly in Sanok with monthly additions, “Der Azut Panim” (The Brazen), and “Der Yiddisher Socher” (The Jewish Merchant) (later given over to Yechiel Schnied). In 1914-1915 he founded two Hebrew schools in Budapest. From that time, he served in the Austrian Army until the November revolution. In the final period he worked as an agent for flourmills, tanning, and shoemaking provisions.

Up to this point – the words of the editor of the Lexicon of Zalman Reisin.

The situation with respect to the Folksfreund weekly newspaper in Sanok, founded and edited by Scheinbach throughout its duration of existence (1909-1914), is not much better. To our dismay, we found no material in any language that can enrich our knowledge with any details about this newspaper, such as the reasons and causes of its founding, its essence and purpose, what was and who were the members of the communal organ that supported it, from where it obtained its financial means, who was responsible for its content, etc.

The only information about this Sanok weekly, which is indeed very important in its own right, is with respect to its essence: it was a newspaper with a high level of literary-publicity quality. The source of this information is the newspaper itself, for we were able to see it in the national book-house that is near the

[Page 199]

Hebrew University in Jerusalem. A photocopy of the front cover (shrunk down of course) is included here. The content and style of the articles, the announcements and other material demonstrate good and conscientious editing from the external-esthetic perspective, as well as great concern for the level of content of the articles, the mode of expression, and the choice of reading material for the subscribers of the newspaper. It was as if their entire source of day-to-day information and their spiritual-publicist-sporting substance came only from their weekly newspaper. We also know that renowned journalists and writers of those days who were known in the realms of general communal activism, Zionist activity and even in the realm of fine literature contributed to Folksfreund. Some of them later attained fame, such as Reuven Fahn, who writes about his participation in the Sanok Folksfreund in his autobiography that was published by Genazim, volume 1, page 118. From among those who are alive with us, may they live long, there is Uri Tzvi Greenberg, A. M. Fox, and Melech Rawitsch. From among the publicist writers whose names appeared more frequently atop their articles and feuilletons, there are the enthusiastic and endearing Zionist activist and brilliant popular speaker in Galicia, Dr. Meier Geier; the regular writer of the Lemberger Tagblatt Fishe Witkower; the regular writer of the Machzikei Hadas newspaper of the extremist Hassidic camp Yisrael Zalman Berman, and others.

Regarding this point it is also worth noting the recurring usage by Zalman Reisin in his Lexicon of the Sanoker Folksfreund as background material and a source of bibliographic information on the various articles of writers (see, for example, the article on Gershon Bader).

Apparently, the first impression of the newspaper is that it represented the interests of the Jewish householders and Jewish merchants in our city of Sanok. Added to this, at least in the example that is before our eyes, is a special four page supplement entitled “The Jewish Merchant”. However, the clear spirit that pervades it is the spirit of Galician Zionism in all of its manifestations from those days. This is felt as well in the spirit of the articles, both of the publicity and literary genres, that were published in the newspaper. This also appears natural to us as a weekly that bears the stamp of its editor, who was also a merchant, but first and foremost a Zionist idealist of stature, as is testified about him by many people of our city who knew him and remember him as a Zionist activist. The Lexicon article included above also stresses this in its description of his personality (he was a delegate to a Zionist Congress and the founder of Hebrew schools). One can also see this from his correspondence from Sanok to other newspapers in the Galician capitals of Krakow and Lwow, in which he “reacts” with stormy activism and Zionist enthusiasm to examples of opposition to Zionist activism, and disruptions of the Hebrew movement, the dissemination of Hebrew literature, and the existence of the Hebrew school in Sanok. (See, for example, the article in the Hamitzpeh of Krakow, edited by Sh. M. Lazar, from 30 Tishrei 5670, October 15, 1909, signed by Even Shoham, whose identity as Scheinbach is known to us from the aforementioned article in the Lexicon.

Along with this, we should note the objective opinion that the Folksfreund took with respect to specific communal affairs that were related to the protection of the interests of its readership or its taking a stand to protect the rights of a specific community or specific detail, as residents of the city or as members of the communal council. In such cases, the newspaper displayed an appropriate stance of strength of character. Words

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of complaint were included without bias toward the spokesman or the matter at hand, and without showing any favoritism to the target of the words.

We will select one article out of the many as an example. This is from the February 1, 1912 edition. A complaint is brought against Dr. Shlomo Rammer, a Jew who was well revered in the city as the chairman as the Jewish community of Sanok, for failing to be careful at the time of authorizing a concession to open taverns. The city council proclaimed four such stores from among the 30-something proposals – including 8-10 proposals from people who had operated such stores in the past. The following people were authorized: Ephraim Feibusch (owner of a store), Max Hauptman the agent of Okotszimit beer, and Reb Ascher Rosler the agent of Tarnow beer and the wealthy owner of an estate. A complaint was brought with respect to Rosler in particular, in that since he was wealthy he did not need a concession store for his livelihood, and – this was the prime reason, stated explicitly! – that he was known as a friend of Dr. Rammer who certainly supported him over other candidates who were more in need of this than Rosler…

Here is an example from a different area. In the same section, the “chronica” published a report about a lecture by Shmuel Friedman on the topic of Y. L. Peretz, in which opinions were offered about Hassidism leading to an “unpleasant debate” in the middle of the lecture… Right next to this article was an announcement that “The Tzadik Rabbi David Schapira may he live long of Bukowsko left here on Thursday for Palestine[1]. … During the course of his week in Sanok, a large stream of Hassidim came to the Rebbe, each with his own bundle of requests…” And that, “Many of them also traveled with him to Palestine…”

Other proofs and examples of objectivity and a neutral stance can be found in the newspaper, both on the lines and between the lines. Reading and studying its pages convince us of the high level of intelligence of the editor, his skill in presenting his cultural-communal-Jewish ideas, and the level of his trustworthiness and dedication to the issues and situation of the Jewish residents of our city and their desire to improve their lives in a material and economic way as well as in the realm of spiritual values.

There is no doubt that the activities of Scheinbach in our city, in the area of Zionist activism as well as journalistic writing, prepared the ground and forged the path in no small way for those of our city who followed after him and excelled in their activities in these two areas. We remember well the stories that were spread to us about Scheinbach's personality, talents, diligence in his autodidactic studies in secular studies, and mastery of various languages. We still recall the issues of Folksfreund, as all of its issues from the era of its publication were spread out, at times scattered and at times centralized, on the tables and shelves of the Ivria Library for the visitors of the library to peruse and enjoy. Without doubt all of these left their mark upon the hearts of the youth of our city, and led them in their ways of thought, activities and deeds.

E. Sharbit

[Page 201]

san201.gif [27 KB] - A photocopy (shrunk) of the front page of Folksfreund
A photocopy (shrunk) of the front page of Folksfreund from the only copy that is found in the National book-house next to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The original copy is 36 by 27 centimeters


Translator's Footnote

  1. I am not sure if this is Palestine, or a town by the name of Felsztejn (or something equivalent). I cannot identify such a town in Poland or Ukraine, so I am working with the conjecture that this is Palestine – although the context is not ideal and the spelling is awkward. return

[Page 202]

“Ivriya” Organization

by Chedvah Blumenfeld

Translated by Jerrold Landau

On account of the lack of archival material, we will describe the main activities in the following survey without precision with regard to dates.

Sanok was blessed with a vibrant youth imbued with national consciousness. These were boys and girls of parents who longed for redemption in the secrecy of their hearts, but since they were observers of tradition, pious in the fulfillment of the commandments of the Torah and adherents of Hassidism and Admorim, they could not affiliate officially with the national movement and the “drawing closer of the end”[1]. These boys and girls, who in general fulfilled the commandment of honoring their mothers and fathers in their daily lives, believed in national redemption, the revival of the Hebrew Language, and support for aliya and personal actualization. They followed a supreme command and holy goal indicating that one must fulfill these goals despite the opposition of their parents. They fought against the prohibition of the study of Hebrew, and several of them (first, the girls of the Silber, Regenbogen and other families) began to study the Hebrew Language even before the founding of the Hebrew School in our city.

Through the efforts of Shlomo Schiff and Edelbert Scheinbach of blessed memory, the Ivriya Organization was founded in our city at the beginning of the 20th century. Its general purpose was to conduct Zionist activity in the realm of the study and dissemination of the Hebrew language and culture.

A founding committee was formed consisting of Sara Silber, Bela Scheinbach, and Matilda Schiff of blessed memory, and, may she live, Batsheva Meir. The practical joint activity was given over to the girls immediately at the time of founding, and it remained in their hands, with all the day–to–day activities being conducted by the girls. At first, Ivriya functioned as a club that gathered once a week. Its program included:

  1. Study and proficiency in the Hebrew Language, Hebrew literature, and the history of the Jewish people.
  2. Work on behalf of the Jewish National Fund, including the distribution of the shekel [token of membership in the Zionist Organization], distribution of Keren Kayemet LeYisrael boxes in private houses, and collecting and emptying them.
  3. Organizing parties and celebrations on special occasions (Chanukah, Purim, etc.) filled with cultural–social content (recitals, song, readings, raffles) in order to attract the Jewish girls of the city to the activities. The proceeds were dedicated to the national funds.
Additional members without restriction joined the club, and were directed to activity through publicity and support.

[Page 203]

The Ivriya Club broadened and expanded its activities. Then, the idea of founding a Hebrew library, conducting courses for handiwork, and arranging an exhibition of the handiworks created by the members and students, was hatched. The setting up of the library, the teaching of the courses, the arranging of the exhibitions, parties, performances, flower and ribbon days, etc. were all conducted by the members of Ivriya under the leadership and supervision of the first members (Shira Silber, and, may they live, Batsheva Meir and Fela Silber). The income was dedicated partly to the funds and partly to the development of the library.

The Ivriya library was one of the first that had a solely Hebrew orientation from its founding. Indeed there were only Hebrew books in the library during the first period. For the most part, they were borrowed by the members of Ivriya and the students of the Hebrew School. With time, as the library and the circle of readership grew, non–Hebrew speakers were counted among the members. Then books in Yiddish and other foreign languages were acquired for the library and circulated. Ivriya was known as one of the largest libraries in Galicia during that era.

The courses for handcrafts were open as well to girls from all strata, but the language of instruction was only Hebrew. The students of the course also learned Hebrew songs, and the work was always accompanied by song.

Through the efforts of the members of Ivriya, a Hebrew kindergarten was founded that also served as a preparation for the Hebrew School. It is interesting to note here that several graduates of this kindergarten are with us here – mothers and also grandmothers in Israel – may they live long!

The members of Ivriya also participated in activities together with the general Jewish institutions, such as the orphanage, by offering assistance to the children in preparing their lessons, etc.

The first aliya of the daughters of our city in 1921 was of members of Ivriya. These members remained in contact with the members who remained in the Diaspora, and encouraged them toward their own actualization. In Sanok, as in other places in the Diaspora, there were Zionist activists and workers who felt that the time for aliya had not arrived, and that they had to fulfill their mission in the Diaspora. This was an honest and serious way of thinking that lodged in the mind and even bothered the hearts of these dedicated and enthusiastic Zionists. Many of them never had the opportunity to make aliya, no small number of which was due to the Holocaust that overtook them.

From among the active families of the aforementioned Ivriya organization who did not succeed in making aliya, we should mention: Sara and Hodka Silber, Matilda Schiff, Chana Sprung–Mendel, the Goldblatt sisters, Regina and Tzila Regenbogen, Miriam Blumenfeld, Malca Trom, and Vilka Sprecher.

The following members have been with us in Israel for many years: the sisters Fela, Lila, and Rachel Silber, Miriam Silfen, Batya Leser–Wenig, Chedva Blumenfeld, the Meir sister, the Rosenfeld sisters.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Referring to the taking of positive nationalist action to hasten the redemption of the Jewish people, as opposed to waiting passively for the Messianic era. return

[Page 204]

The Yom Tov Blatt

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Apparently, it was a publication that appeared for one year, even possibly only one time, published by the Zionist activists for the purpose of Zionist publicity and support of activities on behalf of the Jewish National Fund in Sanok. So it seems according to the content of its articles and the proclamations, announcements and information published therein –– from the first articles on the first page, until the New Year's greeting from the committee of the Jewish National fund (Natzionalfundskomissie) on page two, all the way to the various mottoes on page four.

The following fact serves as clear proof of the Zionist tendency and public purpose of this publication. We see on the bottom margin of page two that the editor was Shlomo Schiff, and the publisher was Dr. Yitzchok Nehmer. Both were enthusiastic Zionists and activists in the Jewish National Fund. They were dedicated in mind and thought to the Zionist idea and they directed all of their actions to Zionist activity.

Similarly, we see at the end of page two an expression of good wishes from the Jewish National Fund in Sanok to the members Yitzchok Meir Gelender of blessed memory, and, may he live, Ascher Schiff, for their “voluntary technical work with respect to our newspaper.” We also find “the planting of five olive trees in their name in the Herzl Forest.”

We can also state that alongside the publicity purpose, there was a practical Zionist purpose: namely, the collection of money, certainly for the Jewish National Fund, as payment for announcements and New Year's greetings, the number of which was not small on each of the four pages of the publication.

However, for our purpose in this book, with its task to perpetuate the memory of the life and deeds of Sanok Jewry, we will delve into the purpose of the Yom Tov Blatt for purposes far beyond the aforementioned purpose and goal. The only edition of this publication that one of its subscribers, Yitzchok Gelender, has preserved for us, with its four crowded pages, serves for us as a source of historical knowledge to prove various facts and events, to confirm situations and happenings, and to recall experiences and impressions from the social, cultural, national–communal life of the city, and even day–to–day events of the Jewish community of Sanok.

Unfortunately, for various reasons, we cannot present the complete edition to our readers in its full form

[Page 205]

and size of 30/40 centimeters. It is preserved in its complete form in the archives of the book under the auspices of the Organization of Natives of Sanok and the District for anyone who wants to see it and read it. Here, we will only present the first two pages in a minimized form, of course. However, our using it as a source for perpetuation

Photocopy page 205: first page of the Yom Tov Blatt

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and memories will move the reader of this book greatly. The reader has already come across details and facts taken from this edition, and will continue to find such in the remainder of the book. This is its purpose from our perspective, and for this reason, we have included it.

Photocopy page 206: Second page of Yom Tov Blatt

[Page 207]

The Drama Circles in Sanok

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Despite the great vibrancy, interest, and strong echoes that were aroused by the Jewish amateur theater (its Yiddish name was “Yudisher Amaterenklub”) in Sanok and the region, we no longer have exact information and details about the history of this theater, the time of its creation, its first initiators and founder, and other details that would certainly be of interest to all of us.

It seems that aside from the internal factor, the source of which was certainly the artistic impetus and creativity that grew in the hearts of the members and founders of the dramatic circles, there was also an external factor that led to the hastening of the founding the dramatic clubs – the difficult financial situation of various social institutions in the city, the most important being the orphanage. The communal committee that was set up to improve the financial situation of those institutions discovered that an amateur troupe could be an important and significant source of income through the sale of tickets for performances. Therefore, two groups were formed in Sanok: one of the young workers who were members of the Y. L. Peretz Library, and one of the youth who were members of the other organizations of the Zionist movement, who concentrated around HaBima.

The troupes performed their performances in the splendid hall of the “House of the Polish Soldiers” and the Ochajcha movie theater. They also performed in the nearby cities such as Linsk, Krosno, Bukowsko, and others. In all places, it was with great success.


The first official, clear information regarding the amateur theater comes to us from the Yom Tov Blatt that was discussed in the previous chapter. On the first page, an announcement appears, every word of which can be read even in the minimized form in this book. The full content is: The editor announces with joy the news of the founding of an amateur theater in Sanok. As we have heard, it is comprised of good actors who took upon themselves the aim of bringing the best plays to the community. The announcement continues on: on Tuesday, October 13 (the third intermediate day of Sukkot), the theater will perform its first performance in the Ochajcha movie hall. We hope that the community, especially from the provincial areas, will see fit to support this group of amateurs! From our side, we wish them success in their endeavors.

We will remind the reader here that the date of the Yom Tov Blatt edition was the eve of Rosh Hashanah 5680 / 1920.

So as not to think that these words were written for publicity purposes only, as an empty announcement or standard journalistic announcement, a further actual announcement appears on page three of the edition, that we have in the archives of this book. The announcement invites the community to this performance, noting the place and time. A further announcement, also provides the title of the play “The Jewish Heart” in four acts, by Lateiner.

[Page 208]

Thus, there are three announcements: One about the founding of the amateur theater, the second about the first performance on October 13, 1920, and the third that announces the name and author of the play.

To our dismay, we do not have information about the cast of that performance. We can surmise that the cast was not changed, or at least not completely changed, from one performance to the next, and even from one play to the next. Support for this theory is the fact that in photographs of several performances of the amateur theater included in this chapter one after the other, the same actors appear (but not all of them, since some of them later left for universities or other places).

Therefore, all we can do is present these photographs to the reader. By reading the few details in the captions and seeing the faces of the actors in the natural setting as they carried out their roles, we will to some degree complete our knowledge of the history of the amateur theater, and its performances in Hebrew and Yiddish. This too will be positive!

Photo page 208: The performance of Moshe the Tailor by the Jewish amateur theater “Yudisher Amaterenklub”, 1921.
Right to left, standing: Shalom Sprung, Izik Wenig, ?, Blum, Oling.

Sitting: Eliezer Teicher, Batya Leser (Wenig), Dr. Schildkraut, Rivka Epstein, Chaim Weiner, Esther Teicher.
Sitting below: Y. Poritz, Shimon Kimmel.

[Page 209]

209 top photo: “The Miser” by Moliere.

209 middle photo: The performances of “The Tragedy of the Children” by K. Shenhar (1928).
Right to left, standing: Chedva Landesman, Shalom Sprung, Yechiel Kuehl. Sitting: Azriel Schwartz (Ochmani), Yitzchok Gelender.

[Page 210]

Photo page 210 top: “The Worthless by Y. Gordin. Performed in Hebrew and Yiddish.

Photo page 210 bottom: “The Carcass” by Peretz Hirshbein.
Right to left, sitting: Eliahu Springer, Shalom Sprung, Rivke Gurfein, Sh. Amster, Chaya Wilner.
Sitting: Yitzchok Gelender, Chedva Landesman, Werner, Hertz Leser.

[Page 211]

Photo page 211 top: Shlomoke and Rikel (Yiddish).
Right to left, sitting: Shalom Sprung, Friedman, Izik Wenig, Chedva Landesman, Hertz Leser.
Standing: David Werner, Eliahu Springer, Esther Fennig (Sharbit), Yitzchok Gelender, Leibowicz.

Photo page 211 bottom: The play “Going and Coming” by Sholem Asch, performed on August 1, 1928. Sh. Sprung, Y. Gelender. R. Gurfein, Shmuel Ripp, Amster.

[Page 212]

Pioneers of the Hebrew Language

History and Activities of the Movement

Translated by Jerrold Landau


The “Pioneers of the Hebrew Language” organization was conceived and born in Sanok. Its founders and leaders BenZion Katz, Shmuel Ripp, Azriel Schwartz (Ochmoni) and others, founded the first kernel. As some members of the group in Sanok went out to various capitals in order to study in their universities, Sanok continued to be, on account of its being the site of its founding, the field of growth, enlargement, sprouting and ripening. That is to say, the prime movers continued to be those first people from afar whose friends continued on here in Sanok.

The continuing activities in Sanok were conducted through several means. The first fruits were not late in coming – first of all through the organization side. Within a brief period, many of the academic and intelligentsia youth joined the ranks of the pioneering camp. The idea of using spoken Hebrew for day-to-day life began to spread throughout the city. It also penetrated the ranks of the youth who were not organized into any faction or group, and even into the ranks of the youth of the Beis Midrash and kloizes. The writer of these lines recalls at least one case where a play of Yacov Gordon was translated into Hebrew by one of these young students who was requested to do so by the secretary of the Pioneers of the Hebrew Language in Sanok, who knew of his talents, abilities and desire to do so. This translation was performed as a play by the dramatic club of the Pioneers of the Hebrew Language.

The first and most prominent result from this gathering together of members and enlisting them into the ranks of this pioneering camp can be seen in the spoken Hebrew, whose ring began to be heard in the city. It was not restricted to the walls of the meeting halls and the rooms of the factions and organizations. The speaking of living Hebrew in a natural manner was also heard on the main streets of the city, at first from the mouths of the Pioneers of the Hebrew Language and later also from the mouths of the members of the various factions of the organized Zionist youth.

A second result, which also came within this brief but comprehensive period was in the realm of Hebrew literature, beginning with activities to disseminate Hebrew books (or, more accurately, to spread the reading of Hebrew books), and extended to the nurturing of literary celebrations and evenings of Hebrew literature in the usual manner of those days. The most successful of those activities were the literary celebrations at which lecturers presented literary presentations on various topics that were of special interest to the youth. Among the presenters were members of the Pioneers of the Hebrew Language and natives of the city, as well as presenters invited from outside. The interest which certainly stemmed from the desire to know and discover something new in the spirit and the book was expressed on such evenings. On such literary evenings, the interest turned into enthusiasm. The debates about the fundamentals of the presentation reached thrilling heights, and their impact remained for a long time. The debates between friends continued on the occasion of meetings in the hall, at school, on the street, and even – at the synagogue, between prayers and even during the midst of the prayers… This would happen by association even at times much later than that particular presentation and far away from that particular presenter. These literary evenings were perpetuated in the fictional literary creation of Rivke Gurfein, who was also active in this movement. Sections of this work are included in the appropriate place in this book.

[Page 213]

The third result, which flowed directly from the essence of the existence of this organization and was produced by its own power, was its publication “Awuka”. Its birthplace was also Sanok. The first thought and first efforts of the small group of members was in producing it. First, there was a decision to found the movement. The movement had volunteers, activists, and leaders. It only made sense to announce that this movement also had a publication. There is no shame in the fact that during the first phase – and in any case with the first edition – it consisted entirely of the words of the enthusiastic Shmuel Ripp, BenZion Katz and Azriel Schwartz (Ochmoni). There is no shame in that fact that the first edition of the newspaper was “printed” on a “catograph”, on the machine, perhaps the only one in the city, that was located in the printing press of Reb David-Yoel Weinfeld and that was placed at the disposal of the movement by his son Shraga Weinfeld. He was also an activist of the Pioneers of the Hebrew Language, and served as its secretary for a period of time.



It seems therefore that there were no difficulties or problems surrounding the publication of the newspaper, whether in gathering its material, or arranging the financing that was required for such. The newspaper was produced with dedication, enthusiasm, a willingness to publish, and the writing abilities of a small group of those enthusiastic, talented and reliable (in the full sense of the term) youths.

Photo page 213: Uncaptioned. Pioneers of the Hebrew Language

Indeed, as we read the newspaper, whether the first articles of later articles, with its serious literary creations, feuillitons, news and information that flowed from the headquarters of the movement as well as its branches, and the link –we immediately realize that alongside the easy birth of the newspaper, a birth without any birth pangs, and despite the lack of creation pains in the preparation of the newspaper, there were no small number of difficulties and troubles with the topics themselves and the issues regarding which this newspaper was established.

[Page 214]

The fascinating reading of the articles in Awuka or leafing through the crowded pages today reveals the actual vital need for which this newspaper was created. It makes sense that the Pioneers of the Hebrew Language organization was laden with problems and concerns, the serious solution of which was tied with the fate of the nation in the Lands of the Diaspora and in its centers of dispersion. The newspaper was not created in vain. It had a serious and important mission. The creators of the newspaper, activists in Pioneers of the Hebrew Language, did not take on honorary positions, but rather positions of toil, the toil of building, of saving from the terrible dangers that hovered over the head of the nation in its Diaspora and even in its Land. Now I will discuss the name of the movement. The name had three words, each of which requires an explanation. Already in the first article of the first edition (Kislev 5888 / 1928), we read an explanation “by the editors” of the tasks of the movement, of the name of the movement, and the means of action of the movement. It is clear to them, “The Pioneers of the Hebrew Language” , that “The Hebrew work must be carried out with a pioneering spirit”, that “we have a war with assimilationist nationalism, with fake Zionism that falsifies our Hebrew culture”. They saw the main task as “destruction and building, destruction for the sake of building… to destroy the fortresses of assimilation… to build our new Hebrew world”. To that end, it was clear that “It is necessary to develop our ideology that will imbue our young, vibrant, flourishing movement.”

Therefore: from delving into the newspaper of the movement, we can learn what was going on in the movement itself.

Photocopy page 214: Photocopy of the front page of the newspaper

Translator's note: this is a photocopy of the front page of the newspaper. It is not clear, and cannot be translated fully. I have included only highlights below.

AWUKA Price 30 groszy

The newspaper of the Pioneers of the Hebrew Language, cultural committee
Published by the central committee in Krakow

Krakow, 24 Tevet 5788 (17 January, 1928)

Before the Consolidation and the Offensive
What is happening
The Third National Convention of “?”
“5 more entries -- unclear”
In Our World of Work
Before our Committee
From the Movement

[Page 215]

From the words “by the editors” on the main article under the tile “Pioneers of the Hebrew Language” by B. Kahin (BenZion Katz), we see, “Two moments in our young movement: an educational and organizational moment”. The education of the younger generation – and of course Hebrew, Zionist oriented education, for there is no Hebrew without Zionism and no Zionism without Hebrew… “Zionism is not a matter of Palestinismus only. In order to actualize our ideals in the land of Israel, we require a revival in the Diaspora”. The question is posed: “Why not make Zionism into a mass movement? Because we have neglected Hebrew, Zionist education”.

However the newspaper of the “Pioneers of the Hebrew Language” movement does not suffice itself with publicizing the need of pioneering for Hebrew, and Hebrew for Zionism. It spread out to larger horizons. It dealt with the problem of Hebrew journalism in the Diaspora, and it sounded an alarm about the dearth of literature and literary journalism in the Land of Israel. The words were written with shuddering and trembling, with the tone of vibrancy based on awe, of enthusiasm from an internal impetus and of a calling out due to outward fear. “We feel here the shame of being Hebrews” – calls out the newspaper in its article about the enchanted circle surrounding Hatzefira, the only Hebrew newspaper at that time in Greater Poland. It claims that “It is a substandard newspaper because it has no subscribers, and has no subscribers because it is a substandard newspaper”.

Photocopy page 215: A photocopy of a section from Awuka, Issue 2. This format of arranging a collection
for specific purposes was common in those days. Even with this, the efforts and activity were conducted by Sanok Natives.

Translator's note: This section is photocopied very clearly, and I include it in full here.

The Awuka Fund

Mr. Nusbaum (Krakow) 100 zloty
Mr. Aleksendrowicz (Krakow) 20 zloty
The BenZion group (Krakow) 10 zloty

The Chain of Donations:

The Pioneers of the Hebrew Language organization in Sanok gave 22 zloty and called out to the following organizations and institutions to donate an appropriate amount: The Hebrew Community of Sanok, the local council of the Zionist Organization of Sanok, the Pioneers of the Hebrew Language organization in Zagorz, The Ivriya organization of Sanok, the Hashachar academic organization of Sanok, the Habima organization of Sanok, the Hashomer Hatzair organization of Sanok.

Rivke Gurfein (Sanok) donated a zloty and called upon Ch. L. Gelcer, Menachem Toder, Shimon Firer, Yitzchok Schiff (all of Sanok) and Tzipora Wilkenfeld (Krakow, the Hebrew Gymnasium, Seventh Grade).

Shmuel-Zeinvel Pipe (Sanok) donated two zloty and called upon: the leadership of Hashomer Hatzair of Sanok, Tzipora Rozerog, and Bilha and Yona Lefelsztyl (all of Sanok).

Shraga Weinfeld (Sanok) donated a zloty and called upon: Moshe Chanles (Chyrow), Yaakov Rosenfeld (Lwow), Pircha Mir (Czechoslovakia), Shoshana Glycer (Sanok), and Avraham Herzberg (Sanok)

Awuka rails against another newspaper, a veteran literary weekly that was published in the Land of Israel, as follows: “How

[Page 216]

lowly is this newspaper… How lowly is our literature if in not even one appropriate literary article was published in this weekly until this time…” This was not sufficient, the Awuka of the Pioneers of the Hebrew Language agonized over the anguish of Hebrew poetry in the Land. It expresses “severe disappointment” about a new book of Hebrew poetry that was published in Jerusalem, claming that “it is beneath any investigation… It promises much but gives very little… It does not have even one true poem, not even one complete stanza…” It attacks the Hebrew poets in the Land – where the Hebrew word rings out on its streets – for writing their poems in the Ashkenazic style, stating that “the time has come to put an end to this malady whose name is the Ashkenazic style”.

However the greatest anguish, the great disappointments and the great enthusiasm, in the wake of embracing the arms of our wide world and the great suffering of our people in their great tribulations – did not remove the activists of the movement and heads of the newspaper from their day to day concerns and worries about matters of the movement, which continued to develop and grow, deepening its roots and widening its bounds even outside Sanok to cities and towns in the near and far region. Along with the poems of B. Kahin which started to be published in edition Two of Awuka (at the end of the poem in that edition, it states, “more to come”), there is an outcry about “800 unemployed people in the Land of Israel” and especially about the quiet and silence in relation to this and surrounding this (“I desired to shout out, to wail… and if my voice pierces the shameful silence even for a small moment, it would be sufficient). In the “What is Happening” section of this edition, which, from the language and tone seems to be authored by B. Kahin, the editor of the newspaper, there are words speaking out against the leaders of Zionism and their relationship to the Pioneers of the Hebrew Language (“G-d, I am weary with life before your Zionists!). Immediately following this in the same edition, there are enthusiastic words in an article called “Solitude” by Azriel Schwartz (Ochmoni) about the duty of unity, cooperation, and offering quick assistance for the benefit of the movement and for increasing its external influence. “The time has come to take leave of our solitude and declare with a full mouth: Here we are!” Immediately thereafter in the same edition there is a detailed accounting and information about the development of the Pioneers of the Hebrew Language movement in Sanok and its region. It mentions the fact that the number of members of the Sanok chapter exceeded 2000. “This organization excels in great activity… Throughout the five months of its existence, it organized a number of literary celebrations, lectures and Hebrew performances…” It notes that courses in Bible and the young Hebrew literature take place; the members of Sanok visit places in the region and found chapters of our organization; it lists correspondence from towns of the region (for example, Radomysl, Krosno, Rymanow, Krocienko, and others), and even some large cities in Galicia (such as Rzeszow and Jaroslaw), in which chapters were founded through the efforts and initiative of members from Sanok (M. Schiff, Azriel Schwartz, Wallach, Shmuel Ripp and others) who visited for this purpose.


These are the annals – in essence only part of the annals – of the Pioneers of the Hebrew Language organization. Its beginnings were a flight of enthusiasm and a leap of propriety and strong will. Its continuation – activities and diligent efforts to deepen its roots and to expand its breadth and depth. Its end – the cutting of its wings as the time of tragedy and destruction approached, and the cutting off of its life when the tragedy and destruction arrived. Those who anticipated the disaster and made aliya to the Land, and those who survived the disaster and succeeded in making aliya later, carry on their duty here with a holy fire, with the warmth of love and enthusiasm and the integrity of faithfulness and dedication. We will recall here one of the founders of the movement, Professor BenZion Katz, who was also the editor of its newspaper, who left us in the midst of the continuing activities here. The memory of the creator and the memory of his creation will be preserved in the hearts of us all.

A. Sharbit

[Page 217]

Writers, Artists and Craftsmen in Sanok

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Here is the place to note some details about 15 individuals of creativity and the arts that stemmed from the Jewish population of Sanok. Their creative work related to three areas of the arts: writing, music, and drawing. Five of them live with us in the Land, and one in the Diaspora, where they continue with their creativity. The following are the names of these creative artists, along with, to the extent that is possible, additional details on their creativity and the dates of their works.

Azriel Ochmani (Schwartz) was a literary critic and a poet. His signed his name with the pseudonyms “Naar Meshulach” (Cast out lad), “Azriel Hachaimi”, and “Ran Adi”. His publications include “Leever Hadam” (The Past of Man) (1953), “Techanim Vetzurot” (Characters and Forms) (1957), “Kolot Adam” (The Voices of Man) (1967), “Aval Layla Layna Ani” (I am a Mourner Night by Night) (poems) 1968. He edited the “Alei Teref” anthology (1941) and “Dor Baaretz” (A Generation in the Land) (1954). He was the editor of “Meoznaim”, the monthly of the Hebrew writers in Israel, during the period of 5725-5726 (1964-1966).

Yedidia Epstein was a musician who appeared as a soloist in “La Skala”, and at times also in Sanok.

Rivka Gorfein was a storyteller (“Kochavim Meal Lagan” / Stars Over the Garden, 1956, and storybooks for children). She was a literary critic (“Mikarov Umerachok” / From Near and Far, 1964; “Am Shir” / A Nation of Poems 1967, and “Keria Keshiva” / An Attentive Call, 1969).

BenZion Katz (also signed with the pseudonym “BenZion BenShalom” and “B. Kahin). For bibliographic material about him, see page 451 in our book, and for more details, see “Hasifrot”, the quarterly for the study of literature, Tel Aviv University, volume 1, pp. 3-4.

Avraham Messer was an artist. There is an article about him later in this chapter.

Kalman Segal was a Yiddish and Polish writer. (For an article about one of his stories based on the background of Jewish life in Sanok, see page 265 and the bibliographic article in the appendix.)

David Zuckerman was a cantorial singer. (See the article about him on page 132, and also see page 72.)

Shalom Kremer was a literary critic. (“The Change of Guard in our Literature”, 1959; “Realism and its Crisis”, 1968). He was also the editor of anthologies and booklets, with the addition of prefaces, about Peretz Smolenskin, M. L. Lilienblum, A. A. Kovner, and A. Y. Papirna. He edited the “Yerushalayim” anthology, 1965, and the “Meoznaim” monthly of the association of Hebrew writers, editions 4, 5, and 6, 1968.

Azriel Regenbogen was a landscape and portrait artist. He put on an exhibition in Lwow in 1937 and Warsaw in 1939 that earned positive accolades in the newspapers. He continues his creativity in his studio in Jaffa.

Shimon Toder was a folklorist. He was one of the writers of “Yada Am” (Knowledge of the Nation), and he publishes his works in newspapers and literary supplements in the Land.

I will also make note of:

Edelbert Scheinbach, the editor of “Volksfreund”, the Sanok weekly. Read about him on page 198.

Avraham Siedlisker, a journalist, and the Sanok correspondent in Yiddish and Hebrew for several newspapers in Galicia.

Shraga Feibusch, the editor of “Nowy Dziennik”, “Nasz Przyglond” and others.

Shmuel Ripp, the editor of “Chawila” of Lwow. He also participated in “Avuka” as a writer and editor.

[Page 218]

The Artist Avraham Messer of blessed memory

by Azriel Regenbogen

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Avraham Messer was the son of Reb Leibele Messer, a monument engraver who also gave Torah classes to the congregation of porters and simple workers in the Poale Zedek Synagogue, located in the “Palosz” of the Great Synagogue. Already during his youth, Avraham Messer was recognized for his artistic talent. At that time, he loved to draw people's faces, animals, and body parts during games with his childhood friends. Even when he got a bit older and became a lad, his drawings and impressions caught the attention of his friends and acquaintances, who advised him to travel to complete his studies in art. He traveled to Germany and studied in the Dicurtive Academy of the Arts in Berlin.

With the rise of the Nazi government and the increase of the persecution of Jews in Germany during the 1930s, Messer left for Poland. He settled in Krakow, and worked greatly on his artistic creations, especially on the theme of the Jewish experience. This brought him fine achievement and success from various perspectives.

Photo page 218: Azriel Regenbogen in his workroom. (On the wall is a picture of Yedidia Epstein playing his instrument.

[Page 219]

By virtue of his success in the artistic arena, Messer was well accepted into the society of creative artists in the plastic arts in Krakow. He was accepted as a member of the artists union of Poland, he participated in various exhibitions, and he earned high positive acclaim from the arts critics, as expressed in the Jewish and Polish press.

Avraham Messer died in Krakow during the 1930s after a sudden, brief illness.

[Page 219]

Elimelech Zuckerman (Ben-David)

Translated by Jerrold Landau

His fundamental musical talent was known in Sanok, as a solfeggio with his father, the cantor and singer of the city, as well as from playing the fiddle with private teachers. He studied in a musical academy in Warsaw from the beginning of the 1930s.

During the final years of the 1930s, he was active in the musical circles

{Song on page 219

After My Death..

(Ch. N. Bialik)

Music: Elimelech Ben-David (Zuckerman)

The tune, which was composed by a young Hebrew composer, Mr. Elimelech Ben-David to mark the days of mourning of Bialik, is sung today by the “National Hebrew Choir” of Warsaw, the conductor of which is the aforementioned composer.

A photocopy from the musical composition that was published in “Baderech”, Tammuz, 5694 (1934).}

[Page 220]

that were affiliated with Jewish organizations and institutions. In one of the editions of “Haint” of Warsaw from that time, an article was written under the heading “The Hebrew Choir of Warsaw.” Among other things, the article stated that the choir affiliated with the Hebrew Writers and Journalists Club had lately begun intensive activity “under the leadership of the very talented young musician, Mr. Elimelech Ben-David (Zuckerman).”

When he was living in his parents' home in Sanok, he was active in the youth groups, and, together with his friends, joined the “Pioneers of the Hebrew Language” movement. They organized literary celebrations and Hebrew performances. He maintained contact with his friends even when he was in Warsaw, and sent them on occasion the fruits of his musical creations.

His composition “After My Death”, a melody for the poem of Ch. N. Bialik, published in one of the editions of “Baderech”, the sole Hebrew newspaper in Warsaw at that time on the day of the Shloshim[1]. after the death of Bialik, earned him great recognition from all of us, his friends and acquaintances in Sanok.

We knew nothing more of his whereabouts from the time of the outbreak of the Second World War.

[Page 220]

Lending Libraries and Academies

Translated by Jerrold Landau

There were many libraries of various languages in Sanok, in the realms of various fields of culture and literature. Some of them were general, public secular libraries, such as the libraries affiliated with the parties and organizations. Most of them were lending libraries, charging a one-time fee as a deposit and surety, with no ongoing fees. Others were communal, religious libraries, such as the book collections in the Beis Midrashes and Kloizes, which were open to the general public throughout all the hours of the day and evening. Those libraries did not allow for borrowing, but had no restrictions at all regarding time and hours of usage of the books for reading and study in the premises.

There were also large libraries of both of those types under the ownership of private individuals. We know of one large library containing many hundreds of books on the topics of rabbinic literature, Hassidic literature, and religious research, owned by Rabbi Arye Leib Frankel of blessed memory, the rabbi of the city. We also know of the large library of Rabbi Natan-Nota Dym of blessed memory, the rabbi of the city after the era of tenure of Rabbi Frankel. His library also contained valuable manuscripts and incunabula[2].. We also know of large libraries of that type of the Kanner family, and of the Admorim of Dynow and Bokowsk who lived in Sanok.

There were also private libraries, such as those of BenZion Katz, Dr. Mattisyahu Weinryb, and others.

However, we do not have any details about all the various libraries in Sanok. However, the lending libraries, both communal and private, were known for their significance as invaluable educational influences, especially among the youth and the younger generation. I will note here the libraries that we know to have been active in our generation until the final day of the existence of the city and its Jews. These are: “Haivriya” (Hebrew, Polish, some Yiddish); “Habimah” (Hebrew, Polish); “Tarbut” (Hebrew, Polish); “Poale Zion” named for Y. L. Peretz (Yiddish); “Sifriat Mizrachi” (Hebrew and Yiddish): and the “Fennig” library (Polish). I will not miss the opportunity to include here photocopies of the seals of three of those libraries.

Photocopies page 220: Seals of 3 libraries:
Biblijoteka ludowa “Habima” W Sanoku
Biblioteka “Mizrachi” w Sanoku
“Tarbut” Zyd. Stow. Kulturalno – Oswiartow W Sanoku


Translator's Footnotes

  1. The day marking the thirtieth day after someone's death. return
  2. A literary term. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incunable. return
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