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The Annihilation of Dunilovichi (cont.)

Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, there came about a split in the school. The new Hebrew teacher Hittelmacher with the support of Iruch Kolis, Rivke Feigel and others, planned to set up a modern “Tarbut school” were all subjects would be thought in Hebrew. They took away two teachers and about twenty children, and all of Dunilovichi went topsy-turvy. Immediately, two camps were formed: one loyal to the Yiddish culture and the other to Hebrew and Zionism. Unity disappeared. In the same way, all the parents and young people, who previously had been united on all matters of local community life, were now split into two sides. The same friends who had always worked together now suddenly became blood-enemies and there were frequent quarrels. They would run to the parents in order to get their children, each for his school. The “Tarbutniks” demanded a building for their school, and it had to be granted.

Fortunately, this disagreement brought hidden blessings since each side wanted to show what they could accomplish, and in this way drew more children into the schools. They appealed to the most poverty-stricken groups, pulling their children into the schools and giving them a fine education. Also, more youth were involved in various community projects. Hashomer Hatzair (Zionist, socialist Youth Movement) was founded, engaging in a broad spectrum of Zionist activity like founding hachsharot (farming communities to prepare young pioneers for life in Palestine). The Tarbutnikim had an influence on some of the orthodox Jews (they were called “beards”). They would support them as much as they could. For example, a Jew named Izik Dodkes, who used to get money from his family in North America, would pay $5.00 a month. (This was a very large amount at that time.) The only doctor in town, Dr. Brodny and the pharmacist were Zionists and supported the organization. The Zionists were a very happy and united group, self-confident and always ready to sing and dance. The hope of going to Eretz Yisrael gave them courage and aspiration. When they got together they were always lively and animated.

Meanwhile, the situation in the Folkshule worsened. They decided to look for children without charging a tuition fee. They had more children enrolled, but there wasn't enough money to support the school. They constantly had to search for new undertakings to raise money. It was hard because only a few hours before a performance, the police often would forbid its presentation. They could never be sure that they could complete an evening. The deficit grew. It also became obvious that many of the children attending the school were very weak. After a short investigation, they found out that this was due to improper nutrition. They then decided to provide a tasty breakfast each morning. A committee was formed which prepared a breakfast of coffee, bread and butter. In order to get these products, they had to go from household to household. The committee consisted of Shainke Yaffe, Itele, Rochke, Gesse Gurvitsh, Chana and Rochke Ginzburg. In short, it was very hard work; nothing came easy. Poverty was so great that they had to fire the woman who washed the floors and lit the oven. Her total monthly salary had been only ninety zlotys. The work was taken over by school alumni: Avrahamke Gurvitsh, Berge Zeitlin, Yona Kuritzky, Leibe Oks, Sheinke Kaminkovitsh, Rivke Oks and others.

A few years passed in this way. Most of the elderly leaders passed away and the youngsters became the community leaders. To have an idea of the influence and accomplishments of the drama circle, it is enough to mention that Avrahamke Ginzburg, a graduate of the Folk school crossed the border to the Soviet Union, where he performed in the theatre under the direction of Michael Weicherts. Also, the choir of the shtetl became famous throughout the area. Under the direction of Abraham Gurvirtsh, it would travel through the surrounding villages including the town of Glubokie, and give concerts.

Soon, however, the heavy hand of the reactionary Polish regime fell upon the shtetl. They began to persecute the Jewish Folkshule in every way. Still, Dunilovichi grew and with it, the accomplishments expanding cultural activities. In 1934, they already planned to build a large school with its own theatre auditorium. A large plot was bought not far from the slaughterhouse and a beautiful and comfortable building was put up. Not one of the surrounding shtetls had such a building.

It is worthwhile repeating what Nachman Maisel writes in his book “Once There Was a Life” about the Dunilovichi school. He writes that “it is interesting that the School Board of Dunilovichi told the emissary of the Vilna Central Education Committee, the writer Aaron Mark, 'We must have our own fireproofed building of stone and brick. Even if the government hadn't condemned our present location, we ourselves, for our children' sake, would have done something. The school in the last few years has grown in size and quality. We must push the narrow walls. We must have more room, more air and a broad horizon around the building.'” In this quote there is no date and no name is mentioned. All was done by an anonymous School Board.

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The Cepelowics family


From Yankale's Heder

They used to say that every cultural activity that took place in the shtetl started from Yankale's Heder. This meant that it was the spiritual inspiration of Yankel Abel that created the activity. He was the most intelligent and educated Jew in Dunilovichi. He was a Socialist and the first openly secular Jew in town. Thanks to him, the cultural organization was set up. Not a single cultural activity took place without his participation or his advice. He was the factual spiritual leader of Dunlovichi.

Soon, however, the joy of building and cultural flowering at the apogee of its ascent was suddenly hacked into pieces …….

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The new bath- house is built in 1923


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Zionist youth in 1930


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