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[Pages 465-468]

A Celebration at the Zofja Wajnsztok School

The Book Committee


A class at the Zofja Wajnsztok school, together with the headmaster, Prof L. Wajnsztok and some teachers


We have not been able to obtain details about this school which held an important position among the educational institutions in our bygone Częstochowa.

But we have been able to find a report which was published, at the time, in a Częstochowa Jewish newspaper.

To immortalise the school's name in our “Yizkor Book”, below, we present a summary of the report:

The annual school reports distribution ceremony, at the school named after the renowned pedagogue Zofja Wajnsztok, was conducted in the school's garden, which was beautifully decorated and, at the entrance, a finely made, large school flag fluttered.

The garden was fully packed with the students and their parents.

The headmaster, Mr L. Wajnsztok, opened the ceremony with a eulogy for the Land of Israel's martyrs and heroes, who had been killed in the struggle for the redemption of the land and for its building. Those assembled honoured the martyrs' memory by standing while listening to the eulogy.

Next, the school choir sang “Hatikvah” and the headmaster delivered his speech, stressing that the sounds of our National Anthem must strengthen belief in the hope that Jewish youth, with its passion and heroism, would overcome all difficulties and would redeem and build our National Home in the Land of Israel.

After the distribution of the school reports and the special acknowledgment of the best students, the President of the Parents' Committee, Mr H. Hercberg, proposed that the memory of the deceased Zofja Wajnsztok be honoured with a minute's silence. He thanked the headmaster and teacher staff for their commitment in educating the youth in the National spirit. Mr Hercberg also mentioned that, twenty years earlier, he too had been a pupil of the school and expressed that he was content that his son, also, was being so well educated there, as a Jew and as a person.

A grade 7 student, Pachter, then delivered an interesting report on the activity of the independent students' council. School graduate, Gutka Rabinowicz, thanked the headmaster and teaching staff for their good teaching and the education they had given those who were now leaving the school “We shall always be proud of what we learned here!”, she concluded. With the singing of “Hatikvah”, the ceremony ended.

[Pages 467-474]

The Crafts School[a]

A. Gotlib and M. Fajnrajch

The Crafts School in our city was opened back in 1898 at the initiative and with generous financial support of Henryk Markusfeld, to immortalise the memory of his parents, Adolf and Ernestina Markusfeld.


A group of students of the crafts School in 1908
Sitting (from right to left): Izaak Sztajer, Grinbaum brothers, Mojsze Epsztajn, Mojsze Buchner and Józef Epsztajn
Standing (as above): Szmul Sztajer, Sz. Blum and M. Openhajm.


In those times, the sentiment still prevailed, among Jews, that manual labour was inappropriate for “respectable people” – for the children of well–born families, for whom it was more fitting to aspire to [Talmudic] learning and commerce, to become great religious figures or businessmen.

In those times, the concept of a “tailor–boy” or a “cobbler–boy” was that these occupations “must” be learned only by the children of those whose “fathers and forefathers” came from the lowest strata of the Jewish masses.

In order to attract pupils to the Crafts School, it was established next to the Talmud Torah, in the hope that, among the poor children and orphans, it would also be possible to recruit the necessary number of pupils for the three departments that had been opened – a mechanical locksmithing, furniture carpentry and a coopering (barrel production).

The first directors and teachers were appointed – Szrajber (locksmith), Okrent (carpentry) and Jarzbiński (cooper) – (the last one was a Pole, because it was, at the time, completely impossible to find any professional, Jewish cooper in the whole of Poland.).

As teacher of draughtsmanship, Mr Zalcman was invited, who by then was already an elderly Jew, but was still a great expert in draughtsmanship.

At first, the school had very few pupils, due to the reasons already mentioned above and also due to the fact that each pupil needed to pay for three years of studies – about 150 roubles, a sum which, at the time, was quite large for less than prosperous parents.

The school operated with large deficits, which were covered by the J.C.A. [Jewish Colonization Association], the Kehilla, [and] the Markusfeld family, adding to the tuition fees paid by the parents.

However, after the first three years, when its first graduates – Szulim Blum, Szlojme Działoszyński, Chaim and Szlojme Win, the brothers Abram and Mojsze Weksler and Majer Fajnrajch – immediately received good work and, as qualified craftsmen, earned very well, a throng appeared at the Crafts School and the inflow of students grew from year to year.

Not only study–hall students, but also those at gymnazijums, among them even the children of wealthy parents, began to seek their purpose in professional training as craftsmen and technicians.

In that period, the school's name was also changed. Instead of “Crafts School by the Talmud Torah”, it received the official name of “Jewish Crafts and Industry School”.

The students worked in the workshops during the day and studied at the evening–courses.

Prior to this, the school's directors had changed.

Following headmaster Szrajber, Mr Jawec became director. He was followed by headmaster Gwircman, who managed to have the Crafts School given the right to issue their guild certificates, which granted the right to work in the profession.

In 1912, Engineer Assorodobraj was engaged as director. He succeeded in raising the school to the level of a modern technical school. He implemented annual examinations for the students and also created a subsidy–fund for the capable pupils, which enabled them to continue their studies at a technical college. With the aid of the J.C.A., the most modern, mechanical equipment was purchased.

The teaching staff was also expanded. Messrs. Awner (Polish and German), Oks (Russian, mathematics and Natural Sciences), Perec Wilenberg (hand–drawing) and Wajsberg (Hebrew) were invited to join.


The Crafts School in 1928
Above: The celebration of Poland's independence in 1928; the teachers' staff with the students and the headmaster, Engineer Przysuskier.
Below: The students with their teachers in a workshop.


A new social[?] administration for the school was also elected, comprising (alphabetically [in Heb.]): Dr Batawja, Henig, Stanisław Herc, Henryk and Józef Markusfeld. Eng. Assorodobraj, Frenkel and Eng. Ratner.

Following the outbreak of the First World War, the school went through a most difficult crisis. The subsidy from J.C.A., which was the main foundation of the school budget, was halted. The students were also unable to pay tuition fees and many of them completely interrupted their studies.

But, in that difficult period too, the “redeeming angel” was Henryk Markusfeld!

Shortly before the outbreak of the War, a great fire broke out in one of his factories and many of the factory's machines were damaged. Markusfeld sent everything to the Crafts School to be revised and restored and paid well for it. Thus, the school received money to pay its instructors at least a small salary, hence retaining them with the school!

Great contributions to the Crafts School must be put down to the merit of the headmaster, Eng. Przysuskier – a man of high education, inborn intelligence and strong energy and initiative. He expanded the school's different departments, enlarged its building and provided it with the most modern machines and appliances.

The school was in its own building on ulica Garncarska, in the exclusively Jewish district, from where its students surged.

Of the school's former students, three were able to emigrate to the Land of Israel: Landsman – died in Jerusalem; Lewkowicz [died] in Tel–Aviv; the third – may he be set aside from them, to a good and long life – is Abram Gotlib, [who] lives in Tel–Aviv and is very active in the Częstochowa Organisation and, most importantly, in the “Sefer Częstochowa” book Committee.

After the War, when Aliyah to the Land of Israel commenced, the school was also revived. People scrambled there to learn trades were opened – evening–courses for locksmithing and carpentry, which very much served the interests of the Aliyah. Many of its former pupils emigrated to the Land of Israel and helped there in the building of industry and craftsmanship in our country!

And thus, our Crafts School, too, wrote a fine page in the history of Jewish craftsmanship in Poland!

But it is all in the past!

(The blood–deluge of the Second World War also swept away our Częstochowa Crafts School.

May these lines serve as eternal thanks to those who created, taught and brought benefit to our People and our Land!

May their souls be entwined in the thread of the eternal life of the eternal Jewish People in its Land!)

Original footnote:

  1. Regarding the Crafts School, we've received two interesting articles, in which the facts, of course, are authentic.
    In order to avoid repetitions, we hereby bring forth only the summary of both articles – together.
    The Editors Return

[Pages 473-478]

Supplementary Courses
at the Craftsmen Union's Trade School

The Book Committee

This union opened supplementary courses, next door, for the children of craftsmen who desired their second generation to continue working in their trades, equipping them with knowledge and teaching them, in practice, the most modern techniques of well–qualified craftsmen.

In “Częstochower Zeitung” No.28, dated 26th June 1936, we find a report regarding a celebration that was held on 21st June 1938[1], at the Częstochowa Craftsmen's Union's premises. We hereby present a summary of that report.

In a beautifully decorated hall, all the guild–banners fluttered over the stage and there, the Union's entire management, all the male and female teachers of the supplementary courses, the schoolboys and schoolgirls with their parents and the representatives of various community organisations were assembled.

The ceremony was opened by the Prezes S. Mitler, who warmly greeted those present and, especially, the 22 boys and 23 girls with whom the Craftsmen's family became today enlarged. He also expressed his hopes that this would be a beginning to the further growth of young, Jewish, productive elements, for whom the doors of the supplementary courses and the doors of the Union premises would always be open. There, they would always be the best and most welcome, not just as guests, but as cherished male and female members.

The headmaster of the women's school, Miss Awner, expressed her gratitude to the Craftsmen's Union for its moral support and to the J.C.A. association and the Jewish Kehilla for their financial support. She also bade her students farewell and wished them success in their future lives.

The school's headmaster, Engineer Przysuskier, congratulated the graduates, and stressed that the doors of the Crafts School would always be open to those who, with their knowledge [and] talent, would strengthen the productive element of the Polish Jews – something very welcome for both political and financial reasons. Then, council member Józef Goldberg, on behalf of the Craftsmen's Union's headquarters, congratulated the graduates and wished them success in their new path in life.

Congratulatory speeches were also delivered by Prezes Działowski, Director Margulies, Secretary Aba Winer and Editor Sz. Frank.

Following the distribution of diplomas, Frymet Szczekacz and Dwojra Lustiger spoke on behalf of the students and thanked the leaders of the teacher staff, as well as the management of the Craftsmen's Union, for their efforts in benefit of the students. She also presented beautiful bouquets of flowers to the Director Miss Awner and to Directors Margulies and Przysuskier.

Prezes Mitler made concluding statements and, with that, the official part was concluded.

Afterwards, the crowd spent several hours dancing and singing, with which the impressive ceremony ended.

Translator's footnote:

  1. An obvious misprint; it is impossible for us to ascertain at the moment whether the events and the report describing them date from 1936 or 1938. Return

[Pages 475-478]

The ORT Organisation[1]

The Book Committee

A branch of the ORT organisation was also opened in Częstochowa, in January 1938, with the aim of making it possible to teach Jewish children various trades with which they could ensure their future and also strengthen the power of those Jews willing to draw their livelihood from craftsmanship.

The temporary organising committee worked out a broad plan for its activity and decided to, first of all, commence tailoring courses to be conducted by an instructor who was sent from ORT Central in Warsaw.

The inauguration took place on 9th January 1938 at the Craftsmen's Club.

Immediately, sixty apprentices, amongst them a few masters, wishing to qualify in this profession, signed up for the evening courses.

ORT also commenced a course for electricians, which was conducted by Eng. Fabrykant.

The Częstochowa ORT also began a course for iron–welding, which was the first in Poland and 43 students enrolled.

The teachers were the Director Eng. Przysuskier, Eng. Orlinski [and] technicians Pełka and Rozencwajg – the former was a master [craftsman] at the great ironworks in Raków.

The final annual general meeting of the ORT organisation was held at the beginning of July 1939.

According to a report published in “Częstochower Zeitung” No.27, dated 7th July 1939, ORT's last meeting was conducted by the members Messrs. Zarnowiecki as chairman, Józef Izraelowicz and Hersz Gotajner as assessor, and Mr Jakubowicz as secretary.

Messrs. Winer, Tenenbaum, Lypszyc, Szwarc and Stroz took part in the discussion. The new elcted board of management comprised Dr Tanchum Lewkowicz (Prezes), Icyk Szyja Nirenberg (VicePrezes), Szyja Stroz (Secretary), Herszel Gotajner (Treasurer) and Józef Izraelowicz (Administrator).

Adv. Goldberg, Józef Goldberg, J. Weksler and J. Zarnowiecki were elected to the administration.

ORT's technical secretary was Mr Bratt.

Translator's footnote:

  1. “ORT” is an acronym for the Russian “Obchestvo Remeslenogo Truda”, i.e.; Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades. Return

[Pages 477-480]

The Judaic Institute

The Book Committee

Among the institutions which brought prestige to our city and made it famous in the Jewish world, even outside the borders of Poland, the Judaic Institute must be mentioned. It was founded by the rabbi of the New Synagogue, Dr Ch.Z. Hirszberg shortly after his arrival to Częstochowa. (He is now a professor at the university named after Rabbi Meir Berlin – Bar–Ilan).

Dr Hirszberg, himself one of the most important sages and a great expert on Judaic Studies [Wissenschaft des Judentums], understood that the foundation of a Jewish Judaic Institute, and setting it on a high academic level, would greatly attract youth, who strove to enrich their knowledge of Judaic Studies from its original sources.

Dr Hirszberg was someone who acted on his word and immediately, after publicising his plan, dozens of young men enrolled – students in the higher grades at high school, study–hall lads and even young married men who were boarding with their in–laws – [and] not only from Częstochowa, but also from other cities in Poland.

Dr Hirszberg opened the institute at the New Synagogue.

The very fact that Dr Hirszberg had allowed himself to set it up at this so–called “German” synagogue, which was a nest of assimilationist circles, produced enthusiasm throughout the city and generated great respect, even amongst the most hard–bitten assimilationist worshipers of the New Synagogue.

Over time, Dr Hirszberg made an effort and succeeded in bringing about that [the idea] that “new winds” should blow here also. The Nationalist spirit prevailed in these circles as well and Zionism was also reinforced there.

A large library was created at the synagogue, where Hebrew and Yiddish books were at the forefront.

Mr Turner was appointed librarian. He always endeavoured to continuously enlarge it with the best books, including those on Judaic Studies.

The institute's festive inauguration, held on 14th January 1937, was attended by Warsaw rabbi, Senator Prof Mojżesz Schorr who, in his lecture on “The Origins of Judaism”, denoted the main foundations of Judaism, according to the Talmudic sources. In the subsequent part of his brilliant lecture, Prof Schorr elaborated on the foundations of Judaic Studies in old and new Hebrew literature during the different eras, since its blossoming in Spain to the period of the Renaissance.

Kehilla Prezes, Mr Rozenberg, in his congratulatory speech, pointed out the great significance of the institute being created precisely at a time when our enemies desired to obliterate everything Jewish – both materially and spiritually. Here was being opened an institute of Jewish wisdom, which for all generations had been the armor that protected the Jewish People from downfall.

Dr Hirszberg spoke of his plans and about the pledges from various Men of Academia – among them, the former senator Dr M. Brojda, Prof Tauber, Director of the Teachers' Seminary in Warsaw, and Assoc. Prof Sztajn, who had promised him their aid by coming, from time to time, to lecture at the institute on current Judaic Studies topics.

The Judaic Institute developed very nicely, until Dr Hirszberg's departure from Częstochowa (at the beginning of Hitler's invasion).

[Pages 479-484]

I.L. Peretz Educational Institutions

The Book Committee

At the time of the First World War, the first sprouting of an organised Jewish communal life began to show itself on the Jewish street. This, of course, did not bypass Częstochowa either.

During that difficult period, when normal everyday Jewish life became disrupted, entire Jewish communities were expelled from their long–established homes and were forced to take up the wanderer's staff and become homeless–roofless refugees. The greatest surge was, usually, to Warsaw.

I.L. Peretz, the great friend of the broad Jewish masses and his right–hand man, the true “LamedVavnik[1], Jakób Dynenson, flung themselves into the fray to save homeless children and orphans from destruction and began creating the first children's homes and, later, primary schools also.

The first to rally to their appeal were the working classes and the radical Jewish intelligentsia.

The start was made in Warsaw, but the work developed and also spread to the larger Jewish cities in Poland, including our Częstochowa.

The first children's home was opened in Częstochowa by the S.S. Party and was managed by Chaja Waga, Mojsze and Riwke Weksler, Ester Fuks, Rajzla Fajertag, Rafail Federman and Dudek Szlezinger, who rented an attractive five–room dwelling at ulica Krótka 17. They provided the children's home with primitive, used furniture and with various playthings, which they had gathered from among members and good–hearted Jews.

They were also able to receive a vertical piano and also to find a good teacher as well, Juzka Sztam, who was well qualified and was also endowed with love and commitment for the creation of Jewish secular schools.

At the children's home, she brought together children, between the ages of four and seven, from the poorest strata and tended to their physical and spiritual development. Over the course of time, a second children's–home was opened – [that] of the “Vereinigt” [United], at ulica Strażacka 10, which was managed by Mrs. Chaja Waga.


The building at ul. Krótka 17, where the first children's home in Częstochowa was located


The children were taught little Jewish songs, they performed and the [more] capable among them also learned music.

The little children grew and became the nucleus for a Jewish primary school.

The first class of the primary school was opened, with the first teachers being Mrs Nadzia Warszawska and Mrs Rajzla Fajertag. Later, there was Mrs Riwke Cuker and the second class was taught by Fala Fridman. Both of the primary school's classes were located together with the “children's–home” at ulica Strażacka 10.

In 1922, two delegates from the Częstochower Relief in America came to Częstochowa, Louis Szwarc and Louis Szymkowicz, and brought with them a large sum of money in order to purchase a building for the children's homes and the primary school, but on condition that all three parties – “Vereinigt”, “Poalei Zion” and “Bund”, should first unite and manage the Jewish educational institutions with joint forces.


Częstochowa committee of The Central Organization of Yiddish Schools – CYSZO (together with the delegates from the Częstochower Relief in New York)
Sitting (from right to left): A. Chrobołowski, L. Szwarc, J. Szymkowicz, R. Federman and Sz. Nirenberg. Standing (as above): W. Fajga, N. Wajs, R. Berkensztadt, Sz. Wierzbicki and M. Alter


This unification took effect and a new location was purchased at ulica Krótka 23, where the house was built with the best conveniences.

On Sunday, 6th July 1924, the official opening took place, at to which representatives from all three workers' parties attended – Yaakov Zerubavel, Bejnisz Michalewicz and our townsman, Dr Józef Kruk. Many guests from the vicinity also came.

A grandiose celebration was held and, afterwards, the “children's home” at ulica Strażacka 10 was also re–located there. All these institutions bore the name of I.L. Peretz.

In the summer of 1929, the school released the children who had spent nine whole years there, beginning from the children's home, through to completing primary school. Of these, Fradel and Szymon Berkowicz, Rayzel Grajcer [and] Gittele Rozen distinguished themselves in particular.


A governmental primary school in Częstochowa, in 1935, under directorship of Mrs Szacher


But it was not always a holiday. Hard times came and the I.L. Peretz School closed down. The reactionary Polish government viewed [things] askew and did not subsidise the Jewish schools.

(The school wrangled for its existence, until the Hitler hordes brought about its end as well.)

Translator's footnote:

  1. According to Jewish tradition, there are “Lamed–Vav”, i.e., thirty–six (numerical value in gematria) righteous individuals in each generation, who are usually “hidden Tsaddikim”, due to their great modesty. The term is commonly used in reference to an extremely modest person with very great virtues. Return


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