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The Tarbut School (cont.)

At the end of the year we were tested both orally and by written exam and the tests proved how much we had advanced during the year. In my memories the third year was the highlight of the school. It had some experience and some of the students advanced farther. One student went to study in Villna in the Hebrew Gymnasia. We had a new challenge. We wanted to prove that we were at least as good as the Hebrew Gymnasia in Villna. We wanted to show that the school life in our town was more interesting and wanted to use this students as a gauge of our progress. The teachers established a club at school composed of three committees: a cultural committee, a library committee, and a judaical committee. In the judaical committee we would hold trials of two natures: one using literary sources, the other drew on disciplinary sources. A student that became a defendant had both a defender and a prosecutor. Once, I found myself a defendant. My crime was that I drew on one of the library books. In this trial Mr. Menachem Rodinski, one of the headmasters of the tarbout school in Villna was present and the speeches and special essence of the school left a big impression on him. The literary trials held at our school became well know in our area, and one of the trials was written about in the monthly magazine Tarbout and was later used a sample for trials in other schools. I remember that our first “literary trial” was based on a poem by Tzernechovski by the name of “Velvele”. In this poem Velvele was being pulled in a sleigh by the “Meshulach” during the cold winter on his way to Eretz Israel and he became very sick and for three days was delirious with high fever until he died. Tzernechovski (rightly so in my opinion) did not give the details of Velvele's sickness. One of the children was the persecutor in this trial. He was very, very upset and made a fiery speech about the father of Velvele who didn't bring a doctor for the child, and argued that if it wasn't mentioned in the poem then it didn't happen. He claimed that if a doctor was brought, Velvele would have survived and made it to Eretz Yisrael. After that there was a fiery argument about the poem. During that year the library was filled with books written in Hebrew. There was also a world map and a map of Eretz Israel in Hebrew. We had many fundraisers and parties from which all the money we collected was used to buy tools for science experiments. From then on we studied nature and physics with tools, although there were many accidents while we were experimenting.

Whenever a student would show a special talent, he would be very encouraged. Shmuel Spector showed artistic talent and my father was able during a visit to Villna, to find an appropriate school for him. Many times when students left to school to study a profession, he would stay in touch with us. The school was much more than just a place to study, our lives were deeply rooted in it, spiritually and ideologically. For example, when Shmuel Spector had an artistic success he would send us pictures. In the middle of the school year our teacher Shmoya?? received an appointment to the service and had to leave. He returned after a few months he returned with a higher rank and we were very proud that even the Polish army recognized his superiority. At the end of that year, many of the children at this point came to a crossroads in their lives. Some planned to go to Villna to continue their studies and the older amongst us dreamed of going to Israel. After a year Schmrel Dardek left Poland.

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The school moved from the Rabunski home to other homes, amongst them Leib Yaakov Torov home on Myadel Street. It was there that they did the final exam and once again it showed how we had advanced, and how deeply rooted we were in the Hebrew language. These years in school appeared to me as though dream and reality intermingled, and on the horizons of our memory had a unique splendor. The school continued until the outbreak of WWII which brought with it a new period of hills and valleys. A great time was when the wife of the Commander in Chief of the Israeli army was Badana ni Pintov. Badana returned to Kurenets after returning since she knew Hebrew from her early childhood she had no trouble teaching in Hebrew. The hearts of the children were conquered by her pleasant ways. She only taught us for one year, 1924. And I remember how bitter we were when she left, but there was sweetness in that bitterness since the reason she was leaving was to travel with her family to Eretz Israel. The emigration of the Pintov family was very important to the school. The Pintov family was related to Elemenef Schulman left Kurenets when he was still a young man. He went to the U.S. were he got very wealthy (ed. in the junk business). I remember those autumn days of 1924 when Elemenaf Schulman came to visit Kurenetzs. The days were cold but filled with excitement. The conversation in every house and synagogue was about the large contribution given by (now) Max Schulman. The biggest contribution was to the Beit Nigraf?? the synagogue of the ???. He built a new synagogue with a large bima, a very luxurious, finely crafted dias (?). Max was also the person who paid for the Pintov family's trip to Eretz Israel and their home and big yard in Yaddle Street became the property of the school. Shortly after they left, Max paid to build another building in the yard, and from that day on the school had its own permanent home, which was adjacent to large fields. From here it was not far to walk to the boulder in the Savina forest and also wheat fields and meadows. A special time were the years 1929-1932 when Druvel ni Zikovsky (ed. perished in the Holocaust). She established a unit of Hashomer Hatzairr (a socialist, Zionist youth movement). Her special nature was evident in everything she did. This was the renewal of the splendid first period of the establishment of the school, when the spirit of youth and social commitment melded into one, wonderful essence.

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In the year 1938 I returned for a visit to my parents after living in Eretz Israel. The Germans, who later we realized were getting ready for war, brought from Poland a large amount of agricultural products and paid a high price for it. Poland, it seemed, had a financial renewal, and the improved financial situation was even evident among the Jews. At the same time, there was a very clear feeling of anti-Semitism that I experienced everywhere. For me it was clear that this economic improvement was only a sweet pill filled with poison and my visit passed with a very ominous feeling of peril. During one weekend I came to the Hebrew school to talk to the town people about Eretz Israel.

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Kibbutz Bamesila, Nes Ziona, 1935
Left to right: Shlomo Mindel, Ahraon Meirovitch and Israel Gvint

Many came to listen to me. There was a new generation of students, but at the core it was the same school of eighteen years earlier - the nucleus school enveloped by a pasture of great hopes that launched the flourishing Tarbut school of 1938. Although it was a year before WWII, Kurenets was already on the edge of annihilation.

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