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[Page 291]

Chapter Four:

Memories

 

[Page 293]

In Telz girls are sent to Gymnasium High–School
and boys to the Yeshiva
[1]
(A Letter From Telz)

Translated by Ellen Rifkin

Edited by Yocheved Klausner

Until a few weeks ago, a journey from Memel to Telz was a difficult undertaking–about ten hours on the train–but now that the new Telz–Kreting line is complete, it's a short jump of just a few hours.

All the Jewish cultural organizations and institutions can be found in Telz, as in all Lithuania. These include two Hebrew kindergartens, a public school and a high school of the Yavneh group where the entire Jewish youth receive their education. The high–school is only for girls, but it provides an ample amount of the knowledge and subject matter that boys study, the majority of whom are preparing for the large world– famous Yeshiva. If the Hebrew poet Yehuda Leyb Gordon could see his Telz now, where he had been a teacher of Russian, he would be amazed at the great advance and enlightenment that just a couple of generations have achieved. He would also surely have celebrated the Jewish daughter, who is now entitled to receive an education and has equal rights to study Torah and related subjects. There is now a Benot Ya'akov [Daughters of Jacob] society where women recite Chumash [Pentateuch = The Five Books of Moses] with Rashi [commentary]–– and I'd venture to suggest that they are doing no worse than the male “reciters” [learners] in their own societies.

The town also has active institutions, such as the OZE humanitarian organization, the Bikur Kholim [visiting the sick] Society, a Free–of–Interest Loan Fund [GEMACH], a people's bank, the associations: Maccabi, (sports organization), Brit–Trumpeldor, Hashomer Hatza'ir, and Zionist parties of all tendencies. It is interesting to note that in contrast to other cities where the expression “He is a Zionist” indicates a community activist engaged in Zionist affairs, there it indicates, “He sympathizes with Zionist thought”–just like in the old times when Zionism was first arising.

The influence of the Yeshiva on the city is felt strongly. The Sabbath is observed – people don't go to the movies on Sabbath. The public is more observant than anywhere else. There is also an overall orientation toward learning. When Zionists of different philosophies have arguments or disputes, they do so as scholars, precisely and not superficially. They show that they are conversant in their own as well as in their opponent's ideology.

And what about earning a living? Jews are groaning; it's hard times, like everywhere.


Translator's Footnote
  1. Morgen Post, 3.1.1933 return

 

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