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[Page 209]

Our school “Am Ha'Sefer

by Nisan Veltzman, Haifa

Translated by Sara Mages

After many years I return, in my mind and imagination, to our Hebrew school in our town of Kutno. I try to pass before my eyes the figures of my beloved teachers and neither the mind, nor the emotion, can perceive that, indeed, they are all gone, because they were all destroyed by the Nazi murderers. The school, its teachers and students, the Hebrew and Zionist atmosphere that prevailed in it, was a precious asset for us all. Its leaders, teachers and students protected it, nurtured it as much as they could, and not once it was necessary to breathe life into it because its financial situation was never satisfactory.

All the teachers pass before my eyes starting with my first teacher, Rachel Riftin z”l, who married the teacher Yitzchak Schorr. However, Rachel Riftin wasn't only a teacher, she was also the school's secretary - a role that involved administrative responsibility for the school. And here is the young teacher, Priva Trunk, and her brothers - the sons of the town's rabbi. And after them appear before my eyes the teachers: Peled who was elegantly dressed and always clean shaven, the serious teacher Tzintzinatos with his wild hair, the teacher Mrs. Feinberg who was fair-haired and graceful, the teacher Horowitz, the teacher Fluger and her husband Czechi, the teacher of Hebrew subjects. After my emigration to Israel I corresponded with them for many years, and deep ties of friendship bound me to them. And here is the teacher, Mintz, who taught Latin and also served as the school's principal, the teachers Rosenbusch, Prust and many more.

Of course, we were boys like all boys in schools around the world. Mischievous, at times lazy, “squinting” at a friend's notebook during a test, teasing girls our age, sometimes pulling the braid of a graceful girl, or just provoking them to cover up our embarrassment at the age of adolescence. And the truth must be told, that the teachers impression of our behavior was not always “satisfactory,” and there were also “misunderstandings” between us and them because, after all, we were young boys like all the boys of the world. At this age we didn't always know to appreciate the “importance of seriousness” in the teachers' eyes. Nevertheless, there was a partnership and identification between us and the teachers regarding the school, because it was our school, the Jewish and Zionist, which, in addition to its purpose as a school for the study of general subjects, instilled in us the

 


Am Ha'Sefer” school

 

love of people and the love of Eretz-Yisrael. It educated us to values of pioneering and Zionism. In all ways they sought to educate us to be Jews with Zionist consciousness, for immigration and self-realization. The teachers not only fulfilled their obligation at school, they also met us after school, in group activities, in the preparation of celebrations, in plays and in many other activities that were not included in the framework of their regular work. They invited us to their homes for talks, for a joint reading of a newspaper from Eretz-Yisrael, etc.

 


The state elementary school (“Powszechna”) - 1930

[Page 210]


Teachers of the Hebrew Gymnasium “Am Ha'Sefer

 

In school, they demanded appropriate achievements from us because we had to prove ourselves more than the Poles in order to please the Polish government commissioner. And indeed, we tried not to disappoint the teachers and to achieve the required level, and we managed to do it well.

However, we always we felt that we were “strangers” in this country. This is not our country, its holidays are not our holidays, its flag is not our flag, and also the green field is theirs, and the river and the forest, even the playground and the ice skating rink are not ours!

We had ill-feelings toward the gentile children, especially on the days of their national holidays, when their national pride was expressed in attacks on us, provocations and beatings.

We found some consolation within the walls of our school. There, we found a good word from our teachers, or an encouraging and friendly smile whether thanks to academic success, or even because of the shortening of the school day during the winter due to the lack of coal for heating the classrooms. We had nice days at school during our holidays - on Chanukah and Purim. Queen Esther avenging the oppressor of the Jews, the Maccabees, liberators of the people and the homeland, were exemplary figures of fighters for the dignity of the nation and its freedom. After all, we did not imagine that the Maccabees' plot would return quickly in our time! We went to the forest with a bow and arrow, Lag BaOmer is a holiday for children. The Lag Ba'Omer trips have given us a lot of satisfaction and pleasure. Preparations for the trip began before Passover and many plans have been made on how to spend this day. The teachers did their best to make our trip pleasant. They told stories, prepared games, and even told us jokes. Indeed, it is not for nothing that this day is etched in our memory.

We also took longer trips, not only to the forest about six kilometers away. We reached Warsaw and Kraków as well. However, it was not easy to make such a trip because it was involved in great expenses and not every father was able to bear the expenses of his son's trip to such a remote city. However, the trip to Kraków, after the death of Marshal Pilsudski, is engraved deep in my memory. It was an unforgettable experience. Indeed, it is possible that, here and there, the students did not always observe the “forma” and the proper behavior of schoolchildren, because the trip enabled us to loosen the daily discipline and helped us to unload some of the burden. However, it seems to me that the teachers understood our spirit and forgave us. The trip was a topic of conversation for a long time and our experiences were also written in the school newspaper.

The number of students in the school was never great and


Graduates of “Am Ha'Sefer” together with the new classes (1932)

[Page 211]

financial distress accompanied it throughout its existence. At the beginning of the year teachers and students hoped that new students, who graduated from elementary school, would enroll in our school. Although, a quiet competition for the title of outstanding student took place between the old and new students but, with that, we wanted them to join us because every new student made it easier for the school's financial distress. Many left school and did not complete their studies because they could not afford to pay the tuition despite the discounts they had received.

Toward the end of the year, the tension and anticipation of the certificate receiving ceremony increased. Many were disappointed (they deserved “more”), but accepted the “judgment” with a peace of mind and were even encouraged by the unexpected good grades. With the certificates we burst out laughing! The “great vacation” has arrived! Now we can unload the burden! We will be free! But the longer the days of freedom continued, the boredom increased, and in the depths of our heart we asked - may the long-awaited freedom will come to an end and we can return to our school which, indeed, was not one of the most luxurious, but it bestowed upon us from its spirit, and many thanks are owed to it by all those who, in their youth, have studied there.


The school, Linat Tzedek[1] and the Merchants' union

by Efraim Veikselfish, Tel Aviv

Translated by Sara Mages

Now only the memories remained, memories bathed in childhood dew, the glow of youth, the end of life and staring glance of childish eyes.

Here is my mother z”l standing in the morning by my bed, handing me the clean clothes she has prepared for me for school and urging me to get up so I would not be late for my studies. I take the book bag and I'm already on Karolewska Street. The street is like every day. I meet on my way the same figures that, every morning, at this fixed hour, make their way toward the Gur Synagogue, to “Kleiner Gerer Shtiebel.” As is their custom, Chaim Yakov Welter and Chaim Rabe stand next to their shops and, as usual, joke about someone or something and their faces express their satisfaction. As I pass by one of them, he lets me pass only after a pinch on my cheek as a sign of affection they imprint on me… and the redness is staying on my cheek all day so that I will not forget their love for me… and so it repeats every day, they pinch, and I let out a scream in pain as a token of gratitude for their expressions of affection…

After I manage to leave them, I approach the empty lot next to the school. Here, there is still enough time for the students to snatch a light game until the teachers arrive. Suddenly, the bell rings. The principal, Klaper, appeared! All the children are franticly pushing towards the classrooms.

 

School number 3

I do not remember exactly the year our school was opened, but, according to the documents that are in Mr. Shlomo Elberg possession, the school was established in the years 1916-1917

 


The elementary school (“Powszechna”) number 4 - the students and the teachers

[Page 212]

thanks to his hard work, his stubbornness and energy. However, I do not remember its early years because I have not studied there yet, and I only remember the period of my studies.

Then, the classrooms were scattered in two places in the city. Some were housed at the Kovet house and the others were housed in the school building on Kościuszko Street. Our classroom was already equipped with modern equipment as in the Polish schools. When our homeroom teacher, Mrs. Kuzchnyak-Altman, entered the classroom we received her with the Polish song, “Kiedy ranne wstają zorze,” as demanded by the Polish Ministry of Education in those days.

 


Classroom in “Am Ha'Sefer” (1932)

 

Indeed, many boys wanted to acquire a broader Jewish education, but the Hebrew school - “Am Ha'Sefer” - was the only Hebrew school in our city and it could not absorb all the students. Therefore, many of them flocked to our school which also provided Hebrew education in addition to the general education of elementary school. The level of study in our school was high and the teachers demanded a lot of the students. As a result, many elementary school students were easily accepted into high school. There was a pleasant and serious atmosphere of study in it since the students studied diligently, with interest, and its discipline was exemplary. In addition to the studies, the students showed great interest in other fields: they published a student newspaper, “Chaiyanu,” and also founded a dramatic club which performed during Chanukah and Purim. The club was organized by the teacher Taub who, in addition to teaching at our school was a member of the Zionist movement, taught Hebrew in evening classes, organized the Berk Joselewicz Association, and also taught the Bible and Talmud. I remember that during one of his classes Rabbi Trunk, the government inspector of schools and the principal of our school, suddenly visited us. They sat in the classroom and listened to his lesson. Afterwards, Rabbi Trunk told him that he was very pleased with his teaching and explanation. As noted, the teacher Taub was also a loyal Zionist and made sure that his students were educated in the Zionist spirit.

On one of the days of Lag BaOmer, which was dedicated to the festivities of the youth movements, we asked the principal of our school, Klaper, to release us from school for this day, but he did not approve our request. Also the intervention of the teacher Taub in this matter did not help. All we had left was to leave for the forest without permission. The next day, on Lag BaOmer, as we passed in a procession, in unified rows next to the school, the principal, Klaper, stood there and registered all the students who participated in the trip and were absent from school... When we returned to school the principal did not allow us to enter the classrooms, adding mockingly “maybe today is also Lag BaOmer.” After the intervention of the parents, the counselors of Betar and our teachers Taub and Szaszewiec, the incident was eliminated and we continued our studies. Since then the activities of the youth movements have been uninterrupted, and we no longer had to act underground in fear of the evil eye of this principal. Klaper perished in the holocaust together with all the city's Jews.

The teacher, Taub, was one of the teachers who were not natives of Kutno. They arrived to our city after the First World War and easily integrated in the life of our city. They were the teachers: Chapchewicz, Apelast and Altman. They were loved by all, students and parents alike. We were proud of our teachers because we loved them and appreciated their dedication to teaching and to their students. The teacher, Chapchewicz, the mathematics teacher, knew everything about the lives of his students, he took an interest in them and took care of their safety. The teacher, Altman, came to us immediately after his service in the Polish army. He integrated in the city's life and also married the teacher Kozniak. They were involved in the Jewish community. Both survived the Holocaust. Today they live in Israel and continue teaching.

The teacher, Kozniak, was an excellent teacher and educator and knew how to endear her subjects, history and literature, on her students. She survived the slaughter, immigrated to America and recently visited Israel. The teacher, Tatz, who was also a good teacher, taught us the Polish language and its grammar. She perished in the Holocaust. May her memory be blessed.

And last but not least, the music teacher, the only non-Jewish teacher in our school. He was a Christian and much can be told about him and his help during the terrible days that haunted the Jews of our city. He was a Righteous Among the Nations. More than once he went to the barbed wire, which surrounded the ghetto, to bring to his students, and their parents, a little food or something of other value that the unfortunate Jews needed during their terrible distress. He suffered together with the Jews and wanted to help them in every way.

 


Am Ha'Sefer” trip to Zakopane

 

Linat Tzedek[1] and Bikur Holim[2]

Linat Tzedek occupied a distinguished place among the Jewish institutions in Kutno. Its activities were supervised by Avraham Yehudah Zendberg, May God avenge his blood. He acted and activated others for this institution. Even though there was a list of volunteers, who were assigned to sit in shifts by the hospital bed, each case was referred to Avraham Yehudah Zendberg, and he arranged for proper arrangements for the patients. The medicine storehouse and other medical equipments were also found in his home. There were also different types of medicine in his home to help the patient to recover after his illness.

It should be noted, that Linat Tzedek was active before the First World War. It was headed by Yonatan Meirentz who was in charge of distributing aid to the sick. He referred the patients, who had contacted him, to private doctors.

Indeed, the people of our town have always known what mutual assistance is, generously supported every patient and the institution Linat Tzedek.

Translator's footnotes

  1. Linat Tzedek - this organization recruited volunteers to spend the night beside the beds of sick people so that their families could get some rest. The organization also gave the needy medicines and financial aid for recovering from an illness. Return
  2. Bikur Holim - visiting the sick. Return


[Page 215]

The Organization for Gymnastics and Sport in Kutno

by Abraham Kolski, Haifa

Translated by Sara Mages

The Jewish Organization for Physical Education in Kutno was nonpartisan and this fact enabled all young people, from all walks of life and all parties, to join it. This organization took care of the physical education and, to a certain extent, also the spiritual education of the Jewish youth in our city. The organization established two orchestras - one for strings and the other for wind instruments, a choir, a sports club, and gymnastics and sports groups for children, youth, women and also men. There were teams for soccer, handball, basketball, etc. The athletic equipment for all groups was acquired thanks to the volunteer work of its members.

 


Maccabi” athletes (1918)

 

The organization had active members and supporters. The latter, of course, were the elderly and the adults who supported us with various financial donations, provided assistance to the management etc., but they rarely practiced sports. The younger ones, the youth and the children, were very active in the various groups and in gymnastics.

In order to finance all sporting activities, as well as the payment of the salary of the gymnastics and sports instructor, the conductor of the orchestra and choir, and in order to cover the current expenses of the administration and the teams (the income from membership dues was quite limited and insufficient to cover all expenses), we were forced, from time to time, to rent the hall to various bodies who almost covered our expenses. In addition, we also organized evening meetings “on a cup of tea,” and dances accompanied by our orchestra. The meetings and dance evenings were attended by youth from all walks of life. However, all these activities were not enough to finance our expenses, so we also served as agents and brought stage bands, organized concerts, lectures, etc.

The organization held gymnastics and sports evenings twice a year: on the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot. These sports evenings were very successful because they were performed with great precision and grace. They left deep impression on all those present and served, for a long time, as a topic of conversation among all the sports fans in our city. However, apart from the success and the athletic value of these operations, they also served as a source of financial income that we needed so much.

We also organized sports competitions between our teams and other teams, Jewish

[Page 216]

and Christians, local and non-local. In 1933, we were also privileged to host an Israeli group that came to us from Tel-Aviv. I don't remember if it was a group of “Maccabi” of Hapoel.” The appearance of the group from the Israel made a huge impression in our city and in all the surrounding towns.

On Lag BaOmer our organization appeared in an impressive procession through the city. We walked in perfect order, our uniforms glistened in their purity, the orchestra played and our blue and white national flag was carried at the head of the procession. Our performances on Lag BaOmer left a deep and pleasant impression on all the spectators - Jews and Christians alike. The Poles were not used to seeing Jewish youth marching with confidence and pride, youth who aspire to “straighten their back” and no longer be ridiculed by the gentiles. It was a youth prepared for every effort and sacrifice in order to raise the respect of the Jews in their eyes and the eyes of the gentiles alike.

May these few lines be a memorial to the members of the “Jewish Organization for Gymnastics and Sport” in Kutno, a memorial to a healthy and vibrant Jewish youth who was cut off in his youth by the Nazi murderers and was not given the right to live his life.

May their souls be bound in the bond of everlasting life.

 


Maccabi” association (1916)


[Page 216]

The First Jewish Sports Club in Kutno
(A reminder)

by Menachem KOHN, Besançon (France)

I was born in Kutno in 1898 –– and lived in France since 1929. When I became aware of the preparations for publishing a Yizkor Book, I decided to publish on paper a reminder of “Maccabi”.

In World War I, Kutno was occupied by the Germans. At that time, there was an opportunity to develop a certain social activity – and the Jewish youth, who sought ways and ideals, took advantage of these opportunities. In 1915, a group of young people founded the first Jewish sports club – “Maccabi”. The club was headed by a… German non–commissioned officer, Mazik, who would be later found dead in his bath. Bernard Holcman was particularly active for the club.

There was also an orchestra of the club, with the conductor Birencweig at its head. In 1916 (or 1917) we decided to organize a sports festival with the participation of the clubs of the surrounding and following places: Warsaw, Lódz, Wloclawek and Plock. Many young people from the nearby towns also came to the festival.

On a beautiful summer day, dozens of Jewish athletes, accompanied by their own Jewish orchestra, marched through the streets of Kutno. The feeling was there, instantly we found ourselves to be in our own country … The blue and white sports uniform, the Yiddish melodies, which the

[Page 217]


Mazik, first sports coach of “Maccabi” (1915)

 

orchestra played continuously and the municipal councilor Eliezer Elberg, who was excited to be at the head of the parade…

The same year, the Balfour Declaration was published. We wanted to see a connection between our sports festival in Kutno and the political declaration

 


Children group from “Maccabi” (1922)

 

for Jewish Rights in the Land of Israel, published in London. Unfortunately, not all the then and later enthusiasts of “Maccabi” were privileged to see the realization of their dreams – the establishment of a Jewish state…


[Page 223]

“Morning Star-Jutrznia”, Its Chairman and Coach

by Chaim GRYNBAUM, Holon

As a close associate and close friend of Kopel Kirszbaum z”l, I would like to share a few memories and descriptions of this personality, in light of his blessed activity at the “Morning Star” sports club and other social activities.

In the Jewish-social arena in Kutno, Kopel appeared in 1924. And the story was as follows:

The popular gymnastics and sports association “Maccabi”, which was founded in Kutno in 1915/16 and conducted its activities until 1920, under the leadership of the instructors Mazik (a German), Zeide, Markewicz and others – forgotten loyal supporters of sports. After the failure of “Maccabi” they have set up several sports clubs in Kutno, such as: “HaKoach”, “HaShmona”, “Bar-Kochba”, “Jutrzenka”, “Jardenia”, “HaGvura”, “Hammer-and-Serp”, “Gwiazda-Stern”. But most of the clubs had no longevity.

From the disbanded “Jutrzenka” and “Jordania” a club was formed, which engaged only in football, marching out of the city, gymnastics (mainly – pyramids) and drills, in a military manner. All was led by Jusek Kirszbaum, a non-commissioned officer in the Polish army. The founders of the new “Jutrzenka” were: Needle-Worker Fajwisz Fuks

 


Kopel KIRSZBAUM z”l

 

(today in Brazil), Mordechai Mendel Litewski (United States), Moszkowicz Natan (Israel), Grinbaum Lajbisz, Chabus Henech and others. Their exercises and marches attracted a large crowd of young people, especially as society also began to play football with a ball made from bladders

[Page 224]

covered with leather, or sewn together from many rags… Jusek lost such a large number of members and asked his brother Kopel to help him out. A number of players joined “Jutrzenka”, such as: Moszkowicz Mosze, Blum Chana, Teplicki Noah, Marcus Pinchas, Krajer Yehuda. Jardenia's captain Herman Celemenski refused to agree with Jutrzenka, although he was consulted in the negotiations.

Kopel, a former active member of “Maccabi”, had the proper teaching and organizational skills to fulfill the new tasks, which the brother and the conditions imposed on him. In “his” club now came youths from the working-class streets. He neglected his private business, forgot about his family life – and managed the various sports sections with a great deal of knowledge. He created new, improved systems of exercises and competition. The Kutner Jewish youth found considerable interest and satisfaction in the ranks of sports clubs.

The smaller premises did not allow to show what he was capable of. Kopel intervened at the Cultural League and at the Peretz Library, with the unions' representatives and socialist artisans, about handing over to the club the premises in Krolewska and Senatorska Streets, at least twice a week. Only when the Mikhalewicz house was set up in Kutno did the “Morning Star” receive the appropriate premises for his activity. Everyone knows that this was made possible by the tireless intervention and demands of Kopel Kirszbaum.

In his teaching career, he rejected the Swedish system and used Prof. Buk's system. This alone has been a major breakthrough in the athletic system for athletes. Kopel also had an instructor board, which included: Asz Zaken z”l, Rosenberg Moshe, Kowalski Shlomo z”l, Greenbaum Chaim (Bolek, today in Israel), Goldberg Yosel (Canada), Ogurek Y. z”l.

If “Morning Star” had in such a short time created a model group of rhythmics for girls, which had received appreciation from the chief instructor of the Warsaw “Morning Star”, H. Godfeil – 2 groups of women, 3 groups of teenagers, 2 groups of adults, 6 groups of children (4 girls and 2 boys) for gymnastics, 3 football teams, sections for handball, basketball, volleyball, chess, orchestra, athletics – it is without a doubt due to the merit of the tireless and energetic Kopel Kirszbaum.

On this regard – a few words about the orchestra: it was founded by a group of members of the Cultural League with Mr. Buki Yosef at its head. In 1930, the orchestra joined “Morning Star” – but there had no instruments, Buki discovered a few musical instruments in a carpenter's warehouse. After thinking for a short time, he took out all the instruments in a sawdust bag and handed them over to the orchestra. They used to belong to the old concert association of “Maccabi” club.

At the Olympics of the Workers' Sports Clubs in Vienna, held in July 1931, with the participation of some thirty countries, only two Jewish clubs were represented: “HaPoel” from Eretz-Israel and “Morning Star” from Poland. Kopel Kirszbaum was strongly interested in combining representatives of these last two in order to have “his” Kutner club represented. He set the four conditions for those who wanted to take part in the international competition in Vienna: do not drink any alcohol, do not smoke, eat well – but not too much, do not spend time with “beautiful sex”. The members were ready to respect all the limitations, every night practiced for 5-6 hours in rhythmics, gymnastics, acrobatics. And Kopel himself was involved up to the head in the preparations.

 


German certificate for K. KIRSZBAUM of September 21st, 1939

 

The playoffs took place in Łódź. Kopel beamed joy when he saw the Kutners go to the finals with some success. We reached the fourth place. Our rival was the “Morning Star” of Kraków. They had the same number of points. Both teams competed again – we achieved to win by six points. After Warsaw and Łódź, the Kutners occupy the third place. Couple embraced our athletes. Such a success! Kutno got three places for Vienna: Zaken Asz, Grinbaum Chaim and Kopel Kirszbaum.

*

To conclude the Olympics, there was a big performance at the Vienna Opera. Speeches by recognized socialist leaders, competitions of athletes. I sat with Kirszbaum in one lodge and remind him of yesterday's event: during the final march and appeal to the sports field, the athletes were required to march under their national or state flag. We, the colleagues of “Morgenstern”, have been confused: whom should we follow – the blue-and-white flag of the Israeli “HaPoel” or the red-and-white flag of the Polish delegation? The end result was that we were left like a herd of sheep without a shepherd… following none. Kopel was saddened by the reminder, it could be seen that he had strongly experienced last night's event… At the same time, he told me that something similar had happened to me. As I was not a member of the “Bund”, the party committee in Kutno

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blocked my trip to Vienna. It was only thanks to the intervention of Kopel in Warsaw that the decree was repealed.

*

After returning from Vienna, the work grew even more. This also led to a revival and renewal in the activity of “Maccabi”, headed by Holcman. The non-Kutner instructor Miller showed a lot of skills and he drew the audience to “Maccabi”. Youth workers, students and people from the left circles were entering the club and had influence there. Particularly impressive was their uncommon Lag BaOmer celebration, with a march along the streets of Kutno, to the sound of their thunderous orchestra. Only the differences between Holcman and the opposition – Pinchas Krol, Ozhel (Neszer), Fajber, Klingbajl and others about green-and-white, or blue-and-white[1], as well as the personal ambitions and squabbles of the board members Frankenstein, Goldman, Holcman, Korn, Rauer, led to a split. Frankenstein was supported by all non-Zionist elements. “Maccabi” changed its name to “Jewish Society for Gymnastics and Sports” (Polish acronym: Z.T.G.S.). As the Zionist-affiliated board members did not support the union, Frankenstein was later dismissed by the chairman, with the motive that he was a leftist. There was a suspicion that he had probably been reported to the authorities…

The newly formed “Maccabi” in 1932/33 was already purely Zionist, did not include any left-wing elements. In its sporting activities, it tried to reconcile with the “Morning Stars”.

Even in “Morning Star” the integrity and unity were not preserved. The Bundist board removed the athletes who did not want to declare themselves party members. Kopel opposed such actions by the party. In 1932, negotiations were resumed with Kopel to re-enter the “Morning Star”. Kopel was pleased with the changes, he proposed three places on the board: Moritz Szapszewicz as secretary, Grinbaum – cashier and Sztift Abraham – responsible for orchestra. In addition to this: Freund Anszel – conductor of orchestras, Bricman Abraham – leader of the chess section, Tymienko – instruments, Klingbajl and Edrza Fuks – table tennis section. The party committee of the “Bund” did not agree with Kopel – and the latter stepped out of party committee as a sign of protest, and was even angry against his brother Herman… Kopel was first and foremost interested by athletes and not by party members. That explains why he was pardoned. We re-entered “Morning Star” as a team – and a new spirit had enlivened the different sections. The fellow Freund and Sztift have shown a great deal of knowledge and initiative in renewing the orchestra.

In sports life on the Jewish street, just as in political-partisan life, there was competition and struggle for influence. The renewed “Maccabi” really wanted to rival with “Morning Star”. Perhaps they would have succeeded if the head of their organization had been such a dynamic and loyal person, as Kopel. The coach of “Maccabi”, Albert Cain, was a good footballer, devoted to his work and with the help of his substitute Yukush Grajder, did a lot for the club, only when a football competition came, Saturday afternoon, when most of the youth and seniors came to watch the victory, or defeat of “his” club, depending on the sympathies he had – the “Morning Star” usually got out winning. No one considered it was a victory of Bundism over Zionism…

The coach of the “Morning Star” football player was Moshe Moszkowicz (now in the United States). He did not always succeed with Kopel in sports matters, but his instructive abilities were not denied by anyone. He has prepared good ball players, such as Chana Blum, Noah Teplicki, Pinchas Markus, Moshe Blank, Wolf Manczik. And about goalkeeper Mendel Zhurawski (in Haifa), legends are literally circulating because of his extraordinary talent to capture the ball. He was called “Gypsy” and the antisemitic players came out of the field grinding teeth when Mendel was goalkeeping…

The chess section under the leadership of Abraham Bricman and Shimon Plocker also received considerable recognition. It had some 40 chess-players.

Speaking of the activity of “Morning Star”– the ripe fruit of Kopel's efforts, it is worth mentioning the sample group for men, to which belonged Zaken Asz, Grinbaum, Yosel Goldberg, Shlomo Kowalski, Jurek Ogurek, Noah Teplicki.

Kopel gave the rhythm group of 16 girls (aged 15-16), headed by Bine Kozak, a lot of his time and energy. He traveled to Warsaw to watch the best rhythm master to hand over the section to his club. The young girls' public appearances evoked general enthusiasm. Even the chief instructor of the Warsaw “Morning Star”, who once attended such performances in Kutno, did not have enough words of praise for the grace and dedication of the young athletes. And Kopel shone with joy, feeling happy that his work was giving such results.

*

While poverty prevailed in the homes, bitterness reigned there – Jewish youths found joy and encouragement in the various sports sections and exercises of “Morning Star”. Kopel knew about it. His joy was even stronger, his pride even greater, that sport managed to distract the youth from the great reality. He exerted himself superhumanly at every public outing of the club, caring for the smallest detail, “breaking his head” for the costumes, tools and above all - the care for the person. His superiority was seen on a Saturday afternoon in July, when a 500-600 athletes marched to the sports field through the streets of the city. Even the pious fathers and mothers were aroused by their children, as they marched to the beat of the music. Everything was noisy, joyful, bold – and Kopel shone with happiness…

Honor his memory!

Translator's footnote

  1. Zionists. Return


[Page 226]

Jewish Socialist Sports Organization “Morning Star”

by Yosel Goldberg, Montreal, Canada

The Jewish Workers' Sports Club of Kutno “Morning Star” has undergone a very rapid development in a very short time: from several gymnastics' groups during the formation of the club — to several well-established sections for gymnastics, football, athletics, chess, music and others.

 


“Jutrznia-Morning Star”

 

I joined “Morning Star” in 1928, with my classmate Ogurek who later became the club's chief cashier.

At the beginning, the club had to limit its activities due to the small premises that the “Bund” had on Krolewska Street. When the party acquired its own two-story building, a huge hall along the entire length of the building was handed over to “Morning Star.” The joy was great, especially since the hall was equipped with all the necessary tools, such as: Swedish rings, trapeze, trampoline, mattresses, medicine balls, etc. Of course, all of this attracted more and more young workers into the club and out from poverty. Even children's groups (from 5 years old) were registered in “Morning Star”.

As far as I can remember, the work schedule was divided as follows:

Twice a week — a children's group of boys and a children's group of girls, aged 5 years; 2 youth groups — from 11 to 15 years old; two men's and women's groups of 16 years old and up; two model groups (for men and women).

The instructors were all members of “Morning Star”. The author of the lines also led several groups. Only the children I instructed — I will never forget: at the head of the instructors group stood the unforgettable Kopel Kirszbaum.

The strongest and most popular section was the football team, which numbered about 20 athletes. They competed in the “A” league and were very popular with Jews and non-Jews alike.

The blues-orchestra of “Jutrznia” had instruments for trios, such as: cornet, clarinet, alto, tenor, baritone, bass and jazz. Classes were held twice a week, under the direction of conductor Witkowski. The organizer and overseer of the orchestra was Abraham Goldberg (my father's brother). Himself was playing the bass and his two sons, Moshe Hersz and Yechiel, also played in the orchestra.

Two gymnastics events took place each year — in the largest hall of the city in winter and on sports grounds in summer. A large crowd watched the high-level sporting performances with admiration and reverence. The summer events were accompanied by a sports parade of the athletes across the streets of the city, to the sound of their own orchestra. The moral and financial success of the festivities was extremely satisfying.

The club did not receive any subsidies, but its budget was based mainly on membership fees (at least — 10 groschen a week. Many members were also exonerated from this because they could not even pay this small amount).

 


Sportsmen of “Jutrznia-Morning Star”

 

Today I wonder how such a wide-ranging activity was carried out, without any kind of help or support. Only thanks to people like Kopel Kirszbaum and others, whose only reward was the growth and development of the club, was it possible to build the “Star”.

 

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