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[Page 229]

The “Tarbut” School

Shalom Zamir



The teacher Nathaniel Kaplan

Translated by Selwyn Rose

He was tall and erect, quiet and dignified, everyone respected him. His manners and speech were quiet and pleasant; he never raised his voice nor lost his temper with a pupil or punished him. And indeed: he earned a respect from the pupils that no other teacher, man or woman, ever received. Every teacher had acquired a nickname or uncomplimentary soubriquet of sorts from the pupils. All the children respected him and indeed, loved him: he was the epitome of a teacher and a man of great intelligence and high moral stature. As a man and teacher he was by nature good to his pupils – he was not heavy-handed in his manner with them, he didn't trouble or hurt them, he didn't cause them distress; with all that he earned respect with his quiet manners. He never shouted nor did he treat people in a demeaning fashion.

His face was decorated with a short dark beard, and was always serious – but expressed a good-hearted nature, patience and geniality. There was something about his face that reminded one of Herzl.

The treatment we received fom other teachers was totally different. One pulled my ear so forcefully that it actually bled, another ordered me to “wake up” in the middle of a lesson by making me run backwards and forwards in the class to the hilarious and raucous laughter and pleasure of the whole class…in my heart I never felt “easy” with him. The humiliation gnawed at me and hurt a lot.

Suddenly a rumor hit the town: Kaplan was dangerously ill! Before even a day had passed mourning and deep sorrow lay upon the town: Kaplan is no more! Kaplan is dead! It was terrible, it hurt so much…

The pupils wandered around in cicles and confusion as if in a dream. In the courtyard of the “Schulhof” his pupils lined up in order to bid him a formal farewell. I saw girls sobbing in distress with real sobs that came from the heart, pain and sorrow. His widow was completely distraught at the cemetery, wailing piteously and with desperate heartrending cries of disbelief. I had never seen such a strong demonstration of helplessness and sorrow. A year later on his memorial day, when we re-assembled she was much the same: she lay on his grave wailing like a wounded lioness, striking her hands against the stone in anguish – and her cries and agonised wails were pitiful to hear as if the tragedy had occurred at that very moment…all those present and we the pupils among them, stood silent and embarrassed, not daring to say a word…


The teacher Benjamin Lazdan

A good-natured and likeable man. He was the second most-loved by us after the teacher Kaplan. His external appearance was witness to his good-nature: thin-faced, his physical education lessons came as a welcome break, to relieve the worry or fear and tension of studies.

The rest of the teachers left less of an impression; their length of stay was also somewhat less; they would be exchanged every year or less.

There were two teachers for Polish: the first was somewhat old, rather short, precise and strict and wrinkled, carefully dressed in her appearance. Her careful appearance was in tune with her precision and pronunciation of Polish which was perfect. The second was younger, tall, with short straight hair. She, too, was easy-going and smiled a lot.

The teacher Kaminatzki was not well-tolerated – quick-tempered with a tendency to punish the children and even to injure them when he lost his patience. He was a young man, with jerky movements and blond hair.

The teacher Yisroel Yacobowitz was also youngish and fair-haired – pleasant-mannered and patient. His facial expression spoke of graciousness and calmness. Good-heartedness and forgiveness; there was a permanent hint of a smile always hovering over his lips and his speech was pleasant and easy-going. His appearance and relationship to the pupils were encouraging and free of threat. He succeeded in immigrating to Palestine before the Holocaust.

For a short while we had a teacher of medium height, the daughter of the late Kaplan. Her dark-skinned face awakened sympathy and friendship. She was quiet and calm. She taught us geography. Her name was Rachel and she, too, managed to immigrate to Palestine.


Summer Camp in the Forests of Buchbolowa and Szyszki

During one of the recesses from school, my parents sent me to what we called a “Half-Colony” – a half-day residential school.

Every morning a wagon would come and collect the children and take us to cabins in the forest. All the way there we would sing Hebrew songs. The sound of our voices would echo out over the fields and pastures around us. It was a wonderful atmosphere of the open country-side, radiant sunshine along the edges of the forest, a friendly mob of children. Now and then the horse took his own time plodding along – the voices of the boys and girls accompanying the slow journey and adding a colorful ingredient, content and a dream-like texture to childhood days.

The place: the forest spread an aura of magic and elegance. The perfume-filled breeze was full of this magic mysticism of eternal happiness…an old house: in the courtyard of the house – a well. The regulation of the camp was strict, the discipline extensive. Our instructors and guardians ran the settlement and their task was to provide for the urban Jewish youth, freedom, exercise, singing and rest.


Class 'B' Elementary School - 1923


Class 'B' with their teacher, Mr. Kaplan


The “Tarbut” School under the management of Mr. Kollick


The “Tarbut” School outing to the mountains around Sokółka - May 1929


The “Tarbut” School Sokółka (year uncertain)


The Talmud Torah which becomes the “Tarbut” School


The summer camp“Ta'az” in Szyszki


Summer camps in the vicinity of Buchbolowa and Szyszki


Branch members of the Pedagogical commitee of the “Tarbut” School, Sokółka 15th Shevat 5696 (1931)


Members of the committee working in the “Tarbut” school-yard


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