Reflections of the Jewish Enlightenment
by Pinkhas Gal (Fogelman)
Translated by Janie Respitz
The first Jewish Enlightenment pioneer in Radom was Yehuda (Leon) Lieberman. He came from Tchenstokhov [Czestochowa] in 1868 and opened a book store. With the help of the authorities he began to open modern schools and he was nominated as member of the Jewish community council.
At first Lieberman had the support of the Jewish population and his authority increased. However, when he began, as a Jewish enlightener of those days to implement reforms in Jewish life, he made a lot of enemies. Lieberman began a battle against darkness and fanaticism. For example, due to unsanitary conditions he closed a few prayer houses and Heders (religious schools). Naturally, the teachers and Hasidim were enraged and pelted him in the street with mud and stones. They did not allow anyone to talk to him or enter his store to shop. This resulted in such a bad situation that he had to declare bankruptcy, liquidate his store and leave town with his family.
In the newspaper Hashachar there were outcries and protests against this injustice that Radom Jews brought upon such a respected family, bringing them to bankruptcy, homelessness and hunger. This was written by the father-in-law of Yitzkhak Leybush Peretz, the renowned enlightener Reb Yehuda Leyb Likhtenfeld from Apt and the writer Reb Morkhai Tzukerman from Ashmiana[Ashmyany].
Reb Yisroel Frenkel responded to them in Hashachar and in Hatzfira. He defended the Jews of Radom and said Lieberman himself with his behaviour in Radom brought about the rage shown to him by the Jewish population. He also criticized him saying that his friendship with the Russian authorities brought forth hatred toward the Jews by the Polish population which was striving and fighting for independence.
There was another response and the polemic lasted longer.
Here if must be said: for all the praiseworthy actions of Lieberman, - Yisroel Frenkel, without a doubt was considered the leader and guide of the new generation. Yisroel Frenkel placed his stamp on the spiritual development of the Jewish society in Radom at the time.
This genius was only twenty years old when he came to Radom. He was among the most knowledgeable in Hebrew and Bible and in general, filled like a pomegranate with Jewish and general information. He was influenced by the great thinkers, writers and poets of his day and was carried away by the excitement of the Polish freedom fighters. A great follower of the Jewish enlightenment said the following about him: Yisroel Frenkel took it upon himself to bring in the beauty of Japheth and the tents of Shem. He was an admirer and a beloved student of Reb Shmule Moliver[Moghilever] and one of the first members of the Hovevei Tzion (Lovers of Zion) in Radom.
This great moral personality, with his magical powers, had an influence on the assimilationists in our town, returning them to a national Judaism,
and influenced them to be active in communal cultural work.
With a unique warmth and friendliness Reb Yisroel Frenkel befriended the poor elements of society, the labourers for whom he was protector. With his conversations, lectures and speeches he raised them from dark backwardness turning them into aware people. He cared about their children, educating them in the Jewish spirit as well as secular subjects. He was not satisfied merely with sermons and preaching education and knowledge, he also opened free evening courses (bringing in other enlightened teachers without pay) teaching bible, Hebrew, Polish, Jewish and Polish history and elementary subjects.
He opened a Talmud Torah on a modern pedagogic level. The Talmud Torah belonged to the pedagogic council of the Jewish community of Warsaw. It was well known beyond the borders of Radom and open to all who wanted to study there. Half of the three hundred students studied for free. The institution expanded so much they had to rent an entire floor above Kepler's brewery.
Since Yisroel Frenkel's authority and influence grew so quickly the rich men thought it was beneath his dignity to befriend the poor and the craftsmen. The pious Hasidim were blazingly opposed to secular studies which they looked at as heresy. Reb Hershl Diament, the father of Reb Sholem instigated a Holy War against him. They chased him like they had previously chased Y.L. Lieberman. They threw stones at him, broke his window panes, excommunicated him and sent informers to the Russian authorities saying that he was promoting the study of Polish and plotting against the Czar.
Frenkel was in fact a Polish patriot. Because of one of his articles in Hatzfira, the newspaper was closed down for a few months. If not for the intervention of Rabbi Moliver, Bekerman and members of the Warsaw Jewish community council, he would have been arrested and the Talmud Torah would have been shut down.
Yisroel Frenkel however, did not lack friends and supporters. They were: The distinguished scholar Reb Mordkhai Vaysman, the great enlightened Jew and owner of a large book store Adolph Tzuker, Reb Hershl's son Sholem Diament, Professor Palti Mushkatblit, the master tailor Avrom Pomerantz who was the spokesman for the craftsmen; the ritual slaughterer who came from Pshitik, Reb Bunem Tzuker and his strongest supporter, Rabbi Shmuel Moliver[Moghilever].
Frenkel was like a member of his family. This is where they spun the golden thread of the Land of Israel, preparing for the Katovitz conference in 1888 and planned together to collect money for the Land of Israel.
By the way, Frenkel's Talmud Torah was the first school in Radom to have a collection plate for colonizing the Land of Israel.
We should also mention other defenders of Frenkel which included such great personalities as Professor Dikshteyn, Nahum Sokolow, and Khaim Yekhiel Borenshteyn.
His opponents included all the religious teachers led by the blond and black Hershls. Even members of his own family from his wife's side (except the Bloyner rabbi Reb Avreymele) made his life miserable. But Yisroel continued with his battle until the last day of his life in 1890. He died at age 37. His enemies saw God's hand in this.
Jewish Radom was wrapped in sadness. Thousands attended his funeral. Ahead of his coffin which was carried on people's shoulders were all of his students. Rabbi Perlmuter delivered a eulogy in the large synagogue and the crowd cried bitterly. All the stores were closed on all the streets where the funeral procession went, accompanied by Jews and Poles.
The entire Jewish press published obituaries showing respect for this great painful loss. Besides his communal activity Yisroel Frenkel was a productive person contributing to the best periodicals. He left published works and unpublished manuscripts, among which was a Hebrew German dictionary.
There were many memorial evenings organized. Wealthy communal activists in Radom created a fund of 5,000 ruble to help his orphaned family and a fund for the continued existence of the Talmud Torah School.
Not to lag behind the progressives in regard to providing free education for poor children, the religious, with the support of the rich man Reb Mordkhai Kerster, opened a Talmud Torah for poor children. This school was on a lower level in all aspects. It was dark and dirty. They did not teach the children to take pen in hand and write and the children barely obtained the knowledge to read the Hebrew letters or crawl through the Bible. The teachers taught in the old style: with a whip.
The only advantage this school had was that poor mothers could throw their children there for a whole day and free themselves to earn a pittance and bring some bread into their houses.
However, Yisroel Frenkel's school began to shrink after his death.
There was no other personality with such a warm large heart, who fought for cultural needs and took care of these needs. For a long time, cultural Radom felt orphaned.
by Sh. Stravchinsky
Translated by Janie Respitz
When recording the colossal progress in the field of Jewish national education we must remember the first itinerant booksellers: Leon Lieberman and Yisroel Frenkel who had to put up with a lot in their fight against fanaticism and darkness. They both laid the foundation of Jewish national education in Radom.
Particularly Reb Yisroel Frenkel who sowed the seeds for the trees we sit under while enjoying their fruits.
His first worthy student was Reb Sholem Diament, who became a teacher of Hebrew and bible, and turned out to be a gifted pedagogue. Because of this he neglected his book and writing supply business (where he also sold Shekels and stocks from the Colonial Bank). His students were excited by his teaching style, explanations and musical vocalization of the words.
For good reason people would come from far away streets on the Sabbath to the big synagogue to hear Reb Sholem Diament read from the Torah. Many would also come to the Zionist quorum where he taught bible and Jewish history.
His second student was Professor Palti Mushkatblit. Due to the official position he held as Jewish religion teacher in the Yiddish School he could not commit himself to officially teaching Hebrew so he included it in the framework of religious studies.
The other teachers were: Meir Maltzman and Dovid Katz (Hebrew, bible and Jewish history) and Markus the elegant esthete who had a reputation of being very knowledgeable in Russian and Polish.
At that time a Jewish school called Shkola Sobotna (Saturday School) was founded in the building of the Talmud Torah where craftsmen and employees would come on the Sabbath and holidays to learn bible, Jewish history and two evenings a week, reading and writing. There were many students registered in this school but they only had place for 120.
The founders of this school were Leon Bekerman, Palti Mushkatblit, Sholem Diament, Yitzkhak Brikman, Yekhezkiel Norimbersky and the brothers Yekhiel and Pinkhas Pinte Frenkel. The teachers taught for free and the school committee created a special fund to supply the students with books, notebooks and writing tools.
Well known religious schools in town had to adapt to the new times and hired good teachers for Russian, Polish and arithmetic. The teacher Reb Leyzer Finkl even announced that in his class, besides arithmetic, they also teach algebra in time they began to open schools like this which were called Modern Heders. At these schools of Yosef Pomerantz, Isar Lifshitz, the Danziger brothers and Goldsoble's school they taught languages and math.
There were also free thinking, non - observant parents who sent their children to government schools.
Among the Hebrew teachers in town, one of the best was Leybish Milman who taught Hebrew in Hebrew. He also had his students perform Hebrew plays. He later opened a Hebrew school. His plan was to transform Hebrew into a daily, natural language.
Yosef Sokolovsky used the same method, was absorbed in Torah and the Jewish enlightenment and was among the best teachers.
These teachers did not earn a lot of money. For this reason Dovid Katz and Dovid Grosfershtand had to immigrate to America. The returning Khaim Gutman had to become a hat maker. Asher Gutman, in addition to teaching, had a food shop. Markus was a bank employee. Noyekh Dantziger opened a book store. Elye Farbman (Kazanover) who was a certified teacher and taught children from wealthy families nevertheless had to sell cigarettes.
This is how it was until Poland became independent and introduced compulsory education. This is when the situation of the teachers improved.
Translated by Janie Respitz
1. Yehuda Leon Lieberman
Although it is known that in the 1820s the well known teacher Menakhem Mendl, son of Shimshon Zilbershteyn was in Radom, a proponent of the Jewish Enlightenment and a writer of allegories, dialogues and even a 4 act drama (published in Krakow in 1822), we know very little about his activity spreading the Jewish enlightenment in our city.
The first active disseminator of the light of Jewish Enlightenment in Radom is the well known Yehuda Leon Lieberman.
Lieberman settled in Radom in 1859. He opened a book store and began to teach Jewish children secular studies. Later, he opened a private school for boys. In 1869 he was elected to the Jewish community council.
From a famous polemic published in Hashachar we learn that Lieberman created many good and useful things in Radom and he straightened the path so people would not deviate.
Later, Lieberman was a Hebrew teacher in Warsaw. He published a prayer book called The Voice of Yehuda with a German translation. He also wrote a commentary of the Torah and other works.
In his old age he was lonely, neglected and lived in great poverty. His death was even more tragic: at ninety years old he was thrown under a tramway.
In the spirit of past Jewish Enlighteners, Lieberman fought against darkness and fanaticism.
He even closed down a few prayer houses and religious schools due to unsanitary conditions. Naturally, the teachers and Hasidim were enraged. They fought back with a boycott which caused him to go bankrupt and he was forced to leave town.
This is when a harsh polemic began in Hashachar which lasted a long time.
Whatever we may think about this polemic one thing is clear: Lieberman was the first to open the windows to the world of the dark stuffy Jewish alcoves.
He awakened the Radom Jewish population from sleep, promising a brighter tomorrow.
2. Yisroel Frenkel
70 years have past since the death of Reb Yisroel Frenkel, exemplary Jewish enlightener, spirited person and conscientious community worker who was loved by everyone in Radom, and we remember him with the greatest respect.
Yisroel Frenkel was born in Radom in 1853. His father Reb Shraga came from a well respected, learned Hasidic family and died when Yisroel was 11 years old. He was raised under the supervision of his mother Khane Nekhame, nee Potashnik, whose pedigree can be traced back to the holy man, the Visionary of Lublin. She remarried Reb Ruven Goldbard, the rabbinic judge of the city. They lived at Hershele Rozenblat's where there would be a quorum to pray. This is where Yisroel's first activities began.
Yisroel Frenkel studied at a few Yeshivas. As a young man he studied with Rabbi Mohliver. He taught him to love Torah and the Land of Israel. For years he remained Rabbi Mohliver's student, friend and right hand.
In 1871 he married the daughter of the Hasidic scholar Reb Yekhiel and Pesl Kirshenboym. After the wedding his wife Shprintze opened a grocery store which allowed Yisroel to study Torah and secular subjects and to get involved in community work. He taught the Bekerman children and at the Talmud Torah. He distanced himself from Hasidism due to its conduct yet he loved Hasidic doctrine. The best of Polish Jewry is expressed in Yisroel Frenkel: from Hasidism to orthodoxy, from old and new. He loved Hebrew, the language of the bible, he loved French, German, Polish and other languages which he knew well. He achieved all of this with a strong character, diligence and comprehension. He stood out with his original thoughts and with traits which made him loved by the masses which he introduced to the Jewish enlightenment, culture and education.
At the time a Jewish periodical in Polish was published in Warsaw called Izraelita, edited by the educated Palti. In one if its issues the Izraelita attacked Radom's Jews. A second aggressive article, from a writer from Kovno appeared in Hashachar. The young Frenkel responded with a harsh polemic, signed with his initials. Among other things he stated the following:
You should know, Radom is not a widow and she has her own advocates and Jewish enlighteners who have not fallen by the wayside with knowledge in comparison to those in Kovno…
This article caused a riot among the Jewish enlighteners and we can read about it in other publications.
Yisroel Frenkel harnessed himself to the yoke of communal work, especially educational activity. In 1881 he founded the modern Talmud Torah, taking upon himself the care of poor children from our city and beyond. Jews would come to him every Sabbath to hear him expound Torah and morality. He would also teach the craftsmen every Sabbath. It's been told that tailors and other simple folk would turn to him and shout: You teach our children, what about us? So every Sabbath he gathered them together and taught bible and Ein Yakov. The Hasidim did not appreciate this.
When the idea began to sprout about settlement in The Land of Israel, Frenkel could no longer rest and helped Rabbi Mohliver spread the idea of the Love of Zion among the people. His letter exchange with Rabbi Mohliver was published in Brit Rishonim. Frenkel became very close with Nahum Sokolow and contributed to his Hatzfira, Smolensky's Hashachar and other periodicals. He was a clever writer with the power of poetic expression. His following works have appeared in book form:
For nine years Frenkel led the Talmud Torah and cultural life in town. His diversified activity was cut short on the 26th day of Adar, 1892 when he died at the age of 37.Radom sent him off in a fitting manner. Rabbi Perlmutter delivered a eulogy at the synagogue. His funeral was attended by masses of students, supporters, admirers, friends and also Christians. All the Jewish stores in town were closed as a sign of mourning. He left us so young but the fruits of his labours were such that his reputation and influence lasted for generations until the horrific destruction
P. Mushkatblit wrote about Yisroel Frenkel in the Radom newspaper:
He created an epoch in the life of the Radom Jewish community and his influence lasted a long time. He was a typical Enlightened Jew of the old generation, in the good sense of the word. He was filled with Torah and knowledge of Hebrew literature of all generations. He was one of the greats of his generation like Gavriel Yehuda Likhtenfeld, Khaim Yekiel Bornshteyn, Nahum Sokolov, Mikhal Veber and others. He was a member of the entourage of Rabbi Shmuel Mohliver. He popularized his thoughts and was his spiritual inheritor when the rabbi had to leave Radom. He did a lot for the development of cultural life in Radom. He founded an elementary school with a progressive way to pay tuition. Those without means paid less, and those with means paid more. For 30 years this exemplary school spread the learning of Torah and knowledge to children from all levels of society. Frenkel's school raised generations of conscientious, national Jews who today hold important places in social and economic life, wherever they live. Many luminaries visited the school such as Dr. Korczak, Likhtenfeld, Kh. Y. Bornshteyn, Nokhem Sokolov, Prof. Dikshteyn and others. The Torah Studies organization at the Tlomatzky School in Warsaw supported this school with stipends. Yisroel Frenkel's house was a meeting place for scholars, scientists and Hasidim. His wife Shprintze helped him with this hospitality.
3. Mordkhai Zvi Halevy Vaysman
Due to his vast scholarship he was called The Distinguished Scholar. A religious Zionist and orator who won over hearts for Zionist thought.
He was born in Suwalk and came to Radom with Rabbi Shmuel Mohliver with whom he remained in regular contact. He spent two years in America where he carried out successful Zionist propaganda. He published articles in Torah writings of the Warsaw rabbinate and published a religious book Divrei Chachamim (The Words of Scholars) with religious questions and answers of Rabbi Mohliver, Slonimsky and others. He was a passionate Zionist activist. He belonged to the Mizrachi movement and made an impact in the cultural domain. He spent his last two years with his son
Dr. Leon Vaysman, the director of the Jewish hospital and chairman of the Jewish community council in Suwalk. He died at the ripe old age of 96 leaving a large portion of his Judaica library to the Mizrachi Library.
Excerpts from Haolam and Hahad from 1938:
Reb Mordkhai Zvi Halevy Vaysman of blessed memory had a difficult, bad old age. His world fell apart when his wife died, his only daughter and his youngest son Ruven, an exceptional doctor. Lonely, he left Radom in 1932 returning to his birthplace Suwalk to find a bit of comfort with his only surviving son, the chairman of the Jewish communal council Dr. Leon Vaysman.
He was a great dear person, a Torah scholar and a heartfelt, passionate Zionist activist. His memory will remain forever in the hearts of his friends and students who are spread out throughout the world .
4. Yakov Potashnik
He was born in Pshitik [Przytyk] in 1843. His mother, the righteous Feyge of blessed memory, would tell stories about the Visionary of Lublin from whom she descended and about Reb Levi Yitzkhak of Berditchev who had been a rabbi in Zhelekhov, near Radom.
He was an enlightened Jew and taught Hebrew and Talmudic passages. He gave lectures in the school of his nephew Reb Yisroel Frenkel. He wrote and published articles in Hameilitz, Hatzfira, Hamagid and other periodicals.
His daughters and grandchildren immigrated to the Land of Israel and live here with us.
5. Meir Maltzman
A businessman, an enlightened Jew who studied Torah and a passionate Zionist orator. Every Sabbath he would give talks in synagogues and Houses of Study about Zion and other obligations.
Meir Maltzman was one of Rabbi Mohliver's students and he belonged to Reb Yisroel Frenkel's circle. He was extremely honest and believed with all his heart in Jewish hope and the survival of our people and their Torah.
6. Herhshele Rozenblat (The Kielcer)
He was born in 1798 and came to Radom in 1845, where he lived until the end of his days. He was called The Kielcer because he was the first Jew permitted to live in Kielce. Because he translated the Napoleonic Code into Russian Prince Paskievitch granted him citizenship of Warsaw and freed him from taxes for his whole life. Reb Hershele founded, together with Ruven Bekerman, the first pawn shop in town. He and his wife gave so much charity, legends were told about them in town. When Yisroel Frenkel came to Radom he was the first to take him into his house. He was also friends with Rabbi Mohliver and Ruven Bekerman whom he chose as trustee of his will which he wrote in 1877 in a beautiful Polish. Among other things he wrote the following:
Although we did not live in great comfort we did not only take care of ourselves. We helped the poor in our city as much as we could. I remember the difficult winter of 1856 when we delivered food, shoes and clothes to more than one hundred children. No one in town knew about this as we did it secretly with the help of the butcher Aron Yosef.
In his will he wrote about creating the pawn shop with the participation of:
Bekerman with 200 ruble, me and my children, 125 ruble, Rabbi Yehoshua Landau gave 30 ruble, Eliyahu Rotman, 50 and together we had 450 ruble. Today the pawn shop is worth 1500 ruble. My intention was for my children to follow in my path and be kind hearted and generous.
He continued to write about establishing a fund from with every year a certain amount would be divided among poor new mothers, dowries for poor brides, aid for the aged and sick and coals for the poor. He answers his own question as to why he did not leave all he had for charitable purposes and his reason was that his son in law squandered his entire dowry and left his three children with Reb Hershele to nourish and educate. He concludes his will with these words:
Now there is nothing left for me to do than thank my friend Mr. Ruven Bekerman and Rabbi Mohliver for their friendship and great help. I wish you long lives, health and happiness.
7. Shmuel Veynberg
One of the most dynamic Jewish Enlighteners in the city. He studied in Tomashow and Krakow and was filled with Torah as a pomegranate is filled with seeds. He came to Radom as a teacher and then became a bank employee. His wife Ronya was also educated and had a reputation for her good character. She had a grocery store. Their home was open to scholars. During the plague of 1893 they did a lot for the poor and needy for whom they opened a kitchen. Shmuel Veynberg died at the age of 62 in Warsaw, at his son's, Dr. Yitzkhak Veynberg, the famous philologist and professor of oriental languages.
8. Professor Paltiel Mushkatblit
Professor Paltiel Mushkatblit was born in Radom in 1872. He was one of the last Mohicans of the great Torah and Jewish Enlightenment generation whose teachers were Reb Yisroel Frenkel and Mordkhai Ber Borenshteyn of blessed memory. He was also a student in the Warsaw Science School of Samuel Dikshteyn and continued his studies and reached the level of religion professor in the government high school.
Professor Mushkatblit worked in this field for forty four years gaining respect from the Jewish and Christian populations. He taught three generations in the spirit of national self worth.
Although according to his seniority he could have enjoyed retirement, he could not convince himself to leave the profession and his beloved students.
According to his vitality and activity he was still a young man full of energy and love for his young students.
His second love was literature, Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish. He was a correspondent in Nahum Sokolow's Hatzfira from 1890 until 1907 and a regular contributor to Izraelita. His translations also have a special value. He translated works of Eliza Ozhenshkov and Shimansky. He translated Kaiserling's The Jews Who Helped Columbus from German into Hebrew which gained him a reputation in wider Hebrew reading circles.
A separate and magnificent chapter is Professor Mushkatblit's communal activity. There was no discrepancy in his work for the good of the Oshviata society which spread education and was far from the national spirit and was among his national Zionist activities. He faithfully served the Zionist movement in Radom for 37 years as one of its leading members. During Czarist rule his life was put in danger a few times due to his Zionist activities. During all these years there was not a single Zionist appeal without the participation of Professor Palti Mushkatblit. He could be non partisan and give lectures on philosophic and scientific topics and this did not stop him from his daily Zionist work, selling shekels, recruiting members and helping to raise money for the funds. In the last months of his life when he was already sick he did not want to give up his work for the fund raising appeals for the Jewish Agency.
Professor Palti Mushkatblit did not only speak on philosophical and historic themes. Who does not remember his remarkable lectures about Hasidism and Jewish mysticism which excited his listeners for weeks? And who does not remember his heartfelt lectures about Jewish holidays? And who does not remember his richly spirited articles in our Radom Kielce Life?
Professor Palti Mushkatblit encompassed sincerity, conscientiousness, goodness and loyalty: an exemplary, loyal son to his parents and an exemplary friend.
The loss was difficult for our city, losing one its best sons; one of its nicest and worthy representatives.
May we eternally honour his memory.
9. Avrom Goldsobel
Around 1890 he received permission from the government to open a private school where the children would wear uniforms like in the Russian schools.
Goldsobel's school opened in Kuper's house near city hall and the children from the wealthiest families studied there.
Avrom Goldsobel taught Russian and mathematics. Freidman taught Hebrew and later opened a haberdashery. They were both students of Reb Yisroel Frenkel and among the first Jewish Enlightenment propagators in town. Goldsobel also helped rabbis prepare for government exams.
10. Sholem Diament
The son of Hershl Diamnet; a friend an in law of Yisroel Frenkel. He raised a generation of national and Zionist activists. He was very knowledgeable in Hebrew and Talmud. He taught children and adults Hebrew and bible. He was an excellent Torah reader and did this for years in the large synagogue. He was an active Zionist and a member of the Odessa Palestine Committee. He was a devoted activist in social institutions. He had a book store on Zheromsky Street. He died in the 1920s and the Zionist organization inscribed his name in the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund.
11. Leybish Milman
In the 1920s, when we did not yet have a Hebrew school in town and the students attending the Polish high school began to assimilate, a young Hebrew teacher suddenly appeared, Yehuda Leyb Milman.
Milman began teaching evening Hebrew courses at Vitolda 11 and quickly became popular as an excellent pedagogue. From all levels of society in our city and the suburbs, girls and boys came streaming to his classes. The amount of students grew every day. He needed to create groups. The place was too crowded to accommodate all the students. Enrolling in his classes was not difficult because tuition was low. Although it was said Milman never graduated from teacher's seminary, he had a great knowledge of Hebrew and his lessons on grammar attracted a lot of interest.
His lessons were not dry. He had conversations in Hebrew with his students about the Land of Israel, awakening in them a love for the land. He spoke with them on actual topics and the children didn't even feel how quickly Hebrew rang out of their mouths. After a few weeks, they all spoke Hebrew among themselves…
On the Sabbath, Milman met his students on Lubliner Street and held private lively conversations in Hebrew. The kids were audacious, clicking their tongues and the teacher was proud. In these conversations two stand out. Meir Krayevsky and Yosef Zvikielsky. Influenced by Milman, many students went to pioneer training camps and later immigrated to the Land of Israel.
When Yuzef Temerzon opened the high school Pshiatshul Viedzi, Yehuda Leyb Milman was one of the first teachers. However, he did not remain there long as this rare Hebrew teacher and pedagogue could not show the authorities that he had graduated from a teacher's seminary. After many years of pedagogic work and sacrificing himself for the Hebrew language, Milman had to leave the high school.
Yehuda Leyb Milman was also active in communal and Zionist activities.
Translated by Janie Respitz
Although the gymnasia or high school did not head in a good direction in its early years, it later became an important factor in the Jewish educational system.
The gymnasia was founded in 1917 or 1918 by the assimilated Jew Yuzef Temerzon*. The director and most of the teachers were Christian with hardly any understanding of Jewish students and the national and religious interests of their parents.
In 1924 a mixed committee was founded
comprised of parents, volunteers and teachers, chaired by Yekhiel Frenkel. They arranged for a change of status for the school and the school was now completely in Jewish hands. At first Eynhorn was chosen as director and then the engineer Zielinsky, then the engineer Rusak, and later, Hurvitch. A new Jewish teaching staff was hired and the school took on an appropriate national Jewish character.
The gymnasia joined the Lodz Association of Jewish National Schools which included in their program (approximately 10 hours per week) lessons in Jewish history, bible, Hebrew and literature.
Officially, the language of instruction was Polish, however the lively everyday speech (during breaks and in class) was Yiddish. A beautiful library was organized as well as laboratories and the school was run with exemplary order and discipline.
However the financial situation remained bad and the school struggled for its existence. Children were often sent home when tuition was not paid. However the administration and the teachers fought stubbornly the keep the position until they succeeded (in 1928) to regain the government permit they had lost.
The pedagogic level was now higher. Despite the great amount of Jewish studies, the students who graduated did not have any less general knowledge as those who went to the Polish gymnasia.
The students had their own orchestra and drama club which in 1928 (for the tenth anniversary) gave a beautiful concert and a successful Hebrew performance.
There was a time when the gymnasia has 600 students. This was after the Lemberg pogrom when Jewish students had to endure a lot from their antiSemitic colleagues in the Polish schools. However, wealthy Jewish parents mainly ignored the Jewish gymnasia where mostly children from poorer families of small businessmen and craftsmen, attended.
A lot was done for the development of the school by the director Hurvitch, over many years. He devoted heart and soul and had a warm relationship with every student and teacher. During this time the school received a high school permit and a plan was ready to build their own building.
I would like to mention a teacher from the older generation Izak Shitzer (a Latin teacher) who was also the vice Starosta (official position of town elder) of the Radom District, (the only Jew to hold such a high position) and he was a man of great talents. (The Germans later beat him to death in a prison).
Miss Frenkel was a German teacher. However the pedagogic supervisory commission fired her for wanting to help the students at graduation.
The teacher, F. Borenshteyn, was an engineer, a spirited man and an important physicist. He later took a high position at the Warsaw state patent office.
Some of the good pedagogues were: Miss Haber (history), Mrs. Shiler (natural science), Mrs. Goldberg and Reb Holtzkener (mathematics), Miss Glicksman (Polonistics), Fridman (Latin) and the engineer Eyzenberg (Physics).
Jewish studies were taught by: Paltiel Mushkatblit, the great bible expert and one of the oldest Jewish enlighteners; Elkhanan Shitzer, a man with great philosophical knowledge and author of a few Hebrew works. He also wrote in the ghetto and went to his death with his manuscripts under his arm; Leybush Milman, one of the Hebrew veterans in Radom, Dr. Grayever and the younger teachers Vortzman and Korman.
The students graduated with a national awareness and were later active in social, political and cultural life. Many of them were talented in various fields. Sadly, the majority of them were killed during the greatest destruction. (The Holocaust).
We also must mention the initiator Y. Tinovitzky who remained the secretary of the gymnasia until his death and his sons were teachers.
The gymnasia also offered preparatory classes which later evolved into an elementary school.
The Director H. Hurvitz
When we speak about the Pshiatshul Viedzi, we must stop and pay close special attention to the praiseworthy work of the director H. Hurvitch.
He came to Radom in the late 1920s from Novo Radomsk and Piotrkow where he ran the local Jewish high schools.
He was a member of the head administration of the teacher's union and the Society of Communal Schools. He was very instrumental in the consolidation of the Jewish high school system in Poland.
While educating Jewish children for their civil obligations he simultaneously instilled a national awareness and love for the Jewish people.
As a mathematics teacher, he had his own system to awaken their interest and make this dry subject come alive. He taught his students not just to be machines but to understand the formulas logically.
Director Hurvitch supervised the entire teaching program for all subjects. During his visits he would make pertinent observations. He paid special attention to Jewish studies attempting to keep them at a high level.
The school hired him at a difficult time when due to various reasons the institution was in danger of losing its permit. Hurvitch succeeded in taking the school out of its complicated situation and steering it on the main road. He worked tirelessly, instilling order and discipline while creating a friendly atmosphere for the faculty who greatly respected him. Under his influence, the teachers were prepared to do everything possible and support the school with total devotion. For this reason he was loved by all the students and felt the gratitude and support of the entire Jewish population.
Director Hurvitch also paid close attention to the musical education of his students. His feat was organizing a student orchestra which performed successful concerts.
He had great plans to develop an elementary school at the high school and build a large building. There was already a significant amount of money toward this goal but the Nazis put an end to all Jewish plans.
Director Hurvitch's wife was a teacher at the gymnasia and she ran the elementary school. She helped her husband a lot in his devoted work.
They were killed together with Radom Jewry.
His participation in the Jewish educational system has a very different significance.
As is known, there were three Public schools for Jewish children in Radom, where they did not learn on the Sabbath. The schools were called: Maria Konopnitzka, Eliza Ozheshkova and Berka Yoselevitcha. At this last school, Yishayahu Goldshteyn was director and teacher.
Later, when Yishayahu Goldshteyn retired, (by the way, it was very rare for a Jewish teacher to receive a pension), he taught Jewish children at no charge. He taught in Khinukh (at the communal Ezra), at the orphanage and other places.
He was highly respected for his educational accomplishments in Radom.
On December 2nd, 1955, the gentle heart of our unforgettable, charming and talented educator, Esther Melkhior stopped beating.
She was born in Radom and graduated from gymnasia with a gold medal. Thanks to her energy, outstanding talents and innate intelligence she acquired her broad knowledge. She received her higher education at the universities in: Warsaw, Berlin, Heidelberg, Vienna and Leipzig.
With all this cultural baggage, she spent her life serving children whom she loved with her entire being.
Previously, she worked at the Radom Jewish high school, Hovevei Daat, after at the Hebrew gymnasia in Warsaw: Krinski, Lerla Lubiska and others.
In 1930 the Ministry of Education sent her to a pedagogic congress in The Hague. The Ministry of Education also nominated her as a member of the examination commission for all the Hebrew gymnasia in Poland.
In 193839 she was the founder of Our Schools in Lodz where the language of instruction was Hebrew.
During the German occupation she was in Warsaw where she excelled with outstanding boldness and self sacrifice, putting others before herself many times.
On three occasions she rescued her younger sister from the hands of the Gestapo and annihilation.
Due to her patience and devotion to the inhabitants of the ghetto as well as her clever advice and aid, she was loved by all.
Her care for the youth in the ghetto was particularly strong. She secretly created cooperative groups called Shop's where many young people found work and a livelihood. This work helped them stay alive.
Even when she went over to the Aryan side, she helped save many Jews while risking her own life.
After many years of separation I saw her again in order to say goodbye for good.
For many years she was my teacher and educator and her untimely death did not only shake me, but all of her friends and supporters.
Translated by Janie Respitz
This was the school at 27 Lublin Street, run by Isar Lipshitz and Yakov Hekhtman. Here they taught bible, Talmud, Hebrew and general studies according to the program of the Folkshul, (elementary School). Besides the above mentioned school directors, they also hired certified teachers. The school was loved in our city. The children from the orphanage learned there for free. Many of the students continued on to high school and higher education.
Lipshitz and Hekhtman were sincere, common men who were loved in our city. They even taught secretly in the ghetto. They were both killed in the holocaust.
Jewish children did not feel welcome in the Polish kindergartens. They were often insulted. Therefore, there was a great effort to open a Jewish kindergarten. Miss Rokhl Landau and Miss Kh. Gastinska put in a lot of energy until their kindergarten gained a good reputation in all Jewish circles. Besides these two Jewish national kindergartens, others opened which had a general character, for example, the kindergarten of Miss Rakhman and Miss Finkler. Jewish children felt free and at home in these kindergartens.
Private Schools for Children up to Ten Years Old
A few people remember the first Jewish private school for children from ages 810 which opened in 1904 by the teacher Regina Melkhior. This was a serious exercise in the field of education, based on new ideas from that period, which were brought forth by her younger sister, a pioneer in the Jewish enlightenment in Radom, Miss Esther Melkhior.
She believed, like the entire Jewish intelligentsia of the day that the solution to the Jewish question will answered by approaching Polish society, learning the Polish language and acquiring a secular education. In this spirit, she was active in the Society for Education Among Radom Jews which began to offer free evening courses. Later, she was active in the Society of Lovers of the Jewish Enlightenment which founded the first gymnasia in Radom. She was an active educator in this institution for many years together with the liberal, progressive Polish director Dr. Odzhibulsky.
Besides the 1500 children that learned in the general elementary schools there were also communal and public schools like the two Talmud Torahs, Tvunah, Kultura, Das Leor Mesura, Chinuch Yiladim, Yavne and others.
Translated by Janie Respitz
There is a Yiddish proverb which says, You can never arrive late to die or to teach. We can understand from this how honourable and financially rewarding teaching was. These religious tutors often released their frustrations of poverty and suffering on their students. Of course there were all types of teachers, with various amounts of knowledge and pedagogical talents. Among them were some great Talmudic scholars, Hasidim and Jewish mystics who became teachers without having to be persuaded: they wanted to teach Torah. There were also some Hasidim who became teachers because their Rebbes told them to. If the Rebbe noticed his Hasid had special talents for teaching Torah to children, he assigned him this mission.
We are offering here a description of Moishe Rotenberg, written by Dr. Y.M. Grintz, how education was taught in Radom for two generations:
A Jewish boy would begin learning the Alef Bet (The Hebrew Alphabet) with a religious tutor [for the youngest children] and would end with this teacher with the very beginning of studying the Pentateuch. The teacher's assistant would bring the children and take them home. He would also take the children to morning prayers where they would receive candies. They would then move on to a Gemara teacher where they would begin to study Talmud, Mishna with Rashi and the Torah portion of the week. On the Sabbath they would study The Ethics of Our Fathers. From this teacher, they would move on to a real teacher, and from there to The House of Study or to Yeshiva. There were also special teachers for older people who would give Talmudic lessons. Older boys would study alone in all the Houses of Study in town, especially in the House of Study of the Burial Society. Many boys left to study in Yeshivas in Brisk, Lomzhe and other towns. Saturday morning and evenings Talmudic lessons would be taught in the small Hasidic prayer houses. Rich Jews would teach talented boys free of charge. There were wealthy Jews who demanded their sonsinlaw study with a Talmudic scholar. This is what Reb Yoelish Boyminger did with his son inlaw who studied Torah with Reb Eliezer Ezra Kirshenboym who later became the head of the Jewish court in Lublin.
Before the First World War almost every boy studied in the House of Study, however many of them had already begun to read heretical books, becoming damaged goods, or became halfway enlightened Jews. Others began to study in non Jewish schools and universities.
Besides the private Kheders (small religious schools) there were two Talmud Torahs. The poor children were provided shoes and clothes by the Jewish community. One Talmud Torah was founded by Mordkhai Ferster and later to moved to its own house which was purchased by two charitable women in town: Soreleh Soveh (her son in law is the famous poet Dovid Eynhorn) and Brayndl Nayman (the grandmother of the Agudah representative at the Sejm, Leybl Mintzberg). This Talmud Torah was supported by the Jewish community, city hall and a few regular donors. Over one hundred children attended. The second Talmud Torah was on Glinitze Street.
Besides the teachers of religious studies there were also those who taught Hebrew. Among them were Jews with beards who observed Jewish law. They taught from Hebrew readers which were used in Hebrew schools all over the country in the Ashkenazi dialect. Their students knew more Hebrew than those who studied at the Hebrew gymnasia where the teachers only knew new Hebrew literature. These teachers had roots in the old literature, were knowledgeable in bible, Talmud and commentaries. Among some of their outstanding students were such personalities as Sholem Diament, Reb Yekhiel Yosef Bornshteyn and Reb Itche Meir Bluman.
We are providing here a list of the teachers in Radom from the end of the 19th century until the Holocaust who Jews from Radom remember from childhood. People cherish these Kheder memories their entire lives with a lot of sentiment. We see before us the teachers, their assistants and our friends from those times.
The list was collected and revised by Leybl Rikhtman. He made a great effort to ensure the list will be exhaustive. However we cannot be sure that some names of teachers have not been omitted.
Nosn Alter Katz
He lived at Staro Krakovska 5. He was an Ostrovsk Hasid. He taught the children the Pentateuch, Rashi and Gemara. He influenced them greatly with his devotion. He died before the First World War.
Hershl Kazanover (Kusman)
He lived in the round marketplace. He taught the Pentateuch and Rashi. He was a passionate Hasid and a decent man. He was killed in Auschwitz.
He lived at 7 Mali Street. He was a scholar and modest man. He was a stranger to monetary matters. He was poor, but happy. He prayed sweetly. He would tell his students stories about Hasidim and righteous men instilling in them piety and decency. He died in the First World War.
Motye Ber Borenshteyn
He lived at 33 Voel Street in the house of Mali the tavern keepers and later at 8 Zatilna Street. He was a learned and thoughtful person, orthodox (not a Hasid), enlightened and an expert in Hebrew grammar. He became blind in his old age. Nevertheless, every Sabbath he made sure the person reading the Torah did not make any mistakes…he died in the First World War.
As long as Bayle Mirl's food store made money, Reb Motl sat and studied Torah. However, when she was robbed and impoverished, he began teaching.
At first he began with the older boys but then realized it would be a Mitzvah (good deed) to teach poor children to read so that in 120 years they would be able to recite the mourner's prayer.
As weak as he was he had the courage of a hero. During the cholera epidemic 60 years ago, he took it upon himself to help the sick. He spent his whole life trying to help others. He founded the Society to Welcome Guests: every Friday he would collect and distribute Challahs to the poor; he would send visitors to spend the Sabbath in people's homes and always had guest at his house.
He was also among the most active members of the Burial Society and was among those who took down the three martyrs that were hanged and gave them a Jewish burial.
In fact, right after that funeral he got sick and passed away on the 7th of Tishrei 1915.
Yakov Yoineh Borenshteyn
He lived on Voel Street in the new shops. He was a scholar and a modest man. He had between 12 and 18 students who he influenced and helped them to understand the wisdom of the Torah, man's intuition and Hasidism. He died in the First World War.
He lived at 2 Stare Miasta, in Meylekh Shotland's house. There were 50 60 children in his Kheder (school) and was considered the best children's teacher. When he told them stories his voice would thrill[produce excitement and pleasure]. He died in 1908.
Zerakh the Teacher
His Kheder was on Brunda Street, near Zhitnia. He was a master of grammar and bible. He was strict and demanded discipline. His last years he taught at the Talmud Torah. He died in the First World War.
Yosef Glovatchover (Maltz)
His Kheder was at 2 Podvalne Street in Mulyazh's house. He was strict and hated negligence, nonsense and non punctuality which he instilled in his students. He died after the First World War.
Avrom Yitzkhak the Teacher
He lived on Synagogue Street in Mali the tavern keeper's house. He was on of the first to teach very small children. He had 100 children and 2 assistants. He was a simple man, loved the Jewish people and earned very little as a teacher. By the end of the 19th beginning of the 20th century there were hardly any children in Radom who did not learn the Alef Bet from him. He died before the First World War.
Shmerl the Teacher
His family name was Shvartzverg. At first he lived on Voel Street and later at 12 Lubliner Street. He taught the Pentateuch, Rashi and Gemara . He was a Hasid, a Talmudic scholar and a Lover of Zion. He moved to the Land of Israel and died in Tel Aviv.
His Kheder was at 6 Shvarlikovska Street. He taught Gemara and annotations of the Talmud. Not every student was able to study with him. He only took the most diligent and clever. He was a Ger Hasid and the manager of the small prayer house. He died in the First World War.
Meir Yekhiel Lekekhbekher
At 25 Voel Street he taught Pentateuch, Rashi until Gemara with 25 of the best students. He was a respected Ostrov Hasid and friendly to people. He died after the First World War.
Poor children came to his Kheder of Synagogue Street to learn the Alef Bet, Pentateuch and Rashi. He earned merely pennies but was satisfied with the little he had and even gave charity. He would recite numerous psalms daily and visit the sick. He died before the Holocaust.
Hershl Pilaver (Tzveygnberg)
He was among the important Sokolov Hasidim. At his house (first at 17 Synagogue street and then at 4 Round Marketplace), Sokolov and Lukov Hasidim would gather to pray. He was very good at leading prayers. He was learned and loved magic. He taught Gemara and was loved by his students. He died at age 53 in 1925.
Avrom Eli Tzuker
He lived at 13 Kasharova Street. He was a scholarly enlightened Jew. He ran a practically reformed Kheder with school benches. He taught Bible, Hebrew, Polish and Russian. He died at age 70 in 1927.
Until the First World War his Kheder was at 24 Shpatzir Street and later he became a wine dealer. He taught sacred subjects and also Polish and Russian writing. He was a Ger Hasid and a scholar. He died in the 1920s. His sons were the owners of the iron factory Brago.
Itche Meir Bluman
He lived at 3 Volnoshch Street. Shabbily dressed and absent minded he was an expert in Hebrew, grammar, and Jewish history. When M. Krinsky published his two Hebrew text books in Warsaw, Itche Meir sent him a critical discourse for which Krinsky thanked him and actually made some corrections based on his suggestions. He offered his students a bit of Jewish history chronologically starting with Adam up until the Ger Rebbe…he had a knack for art and drew beautifully. He created his own pedagogic system, teaching through posing riddles which he made up himself and later published in a booklet. He was an expert in languages especially German and Russian. He died before the Holocaust.
He was the son in law of the teacher Meir Yekhiel and his Kheder was at 15 Voel Street in the home of Frayndl Rivka Berl's. He taught Bar Mitzvah boys Gemara and annotations. He was attracted to general knowledge. He knew bookkeeping, explored philosophical books from the middle ages and did not neglect the Talmud. He was young, smart, charming and funny, always with a smile on his face.
He lived at 5 Bernardinska (Pielke) Street. He was very scholarly and modest. He was one of the best Gemara teachers in town. He was a thin man with a red small beard, extremely poor and bore a burden of troubles. He never got angry with anyone. His sons, Yirmaya and Yisreol where great scholars. Reb Feyvl was related to Rabbi Kestenberg bit never profited from him.
Eli Kazanover (Farbman)
He lived on Synagogue Street and later on Bernardinska. He was a man of stately appearance and an eminent scholar. It was said he new all six tractates of the Talmud by heart. People came to him with questions on Jewish ritual as if to a rabbi. He was well respected by the Radzin Hasidim. They would gather to pray in his modest home. He was also a great shofar blower and the blessing he made before blowing the shofar moved people with his deep seriousness. He spent many years as the head of the Yeshiva in our town. He died before the Holocaust.
Yosef Kuzmir (Yosef Lozhnik)
First he lived at 5 Starokrakovske Street and later at 29 Voel Street and finally at 5 Piekle Street. He taught Talmud and commentaries to five groups of students. Not everyone was privileged to be his student. He was among the Kotzk and Lukov Hasidim and lived in great poverty. During the summer his wife would rent orchards and she also sold dried fruit to help her husband earn a living. Their daughter knew the Pentateuch by heart. He had a respectable funeral. His coffin was brought into the House of Study and Rabbi Kestenberg delivered the eulogy.
Mordkhai Meir Aybishitz
His Kheder was at 29 Voel Street in Khvat's house and later at 5 Zhitnia Street in Shloime Zaydenveber's house. His taught Gemara with annotations and later became a merchant. He was learned, led services and was an important Alexander Hasid. He died before the Holocaust.
Simkha the Teacher
He lived at 17 Round Marketplace in Motl Koper's house. He was a scholar, a Hasid and a man of good values. He taught Pentateuch, Rashi and Gemara. He died before the Holocaust.
Avrom Yakov Yoine's (Bornshteyn)
At first his Kheder was in the New Shops and after, at 12 Shpatzir Street. He was a teacher's teacher, learned in Torah and modest. He was in business. On the Sabbath he would teach his students The Ethics of Our Fathers and tell them stories about the holy men of Radom. He died before the Holocaust.
He was the son of Moishe the scribe, he lived at 13 Voel street. He was a private tutor for Bar Mitzvah boys who he taught Pentateuch, Rashi and Gemara . He taught his students how to study on their own. He died before the Holocaust.
Yekhiel Yosef Bornshteyn
He was Meirl Malakh's son in law. He offered private lessons in bible and Hebrew. He was knowledgeable in Torah and was a decent man. He lived at 12 Round Marketplace in Nosn Nayman's house. He died before the Holocaust.
He was the teacher Yosef Kuzmir's son in law. He was learned, smart and loved life. He was a pleasant man active in communal life. He loved books, particularly belletristic. He struggled to earn a living a worked very hard to raise his children. He taught for a while at the Talmud Torah at 28 Voel Street and later opened a Kheder at 8 Round Marketplace in Yitzkhak Bialsky's house. (Late at 5 Bernardinsky). He died before the Holocaust.
His Kheder was at 4 Staro Krakovska. He was a good teacher and taught Pentateuch and Rashi. He was killed in the Holocaust.
He live at 7 Zatilna Street in Meir Volf Rikhtman's house. He taught Gemara and annotations privately. He was a scholar, a Hasid and a happy man. He was killed in the Holocaust.
He had a large Kheder at 2 Stare Miasto in Meylekh Shotland's house. He was devoted to Torah. His students loved to hear him tell stories and legends. He was killed in the Holocaust.
Moishe Khlebovsky (Khlevisker)
He had a large Kheder on Shvarlikovska Street in Khane the milk pail's house. His students were afraid of him and tried to be diligent and punctual. He was killed in the Holocaust.
The Blond Hershele
He lived at 17 Synagogue Street and taught Pentateuch and Rashi until Gemara. He was a Hasid, loved to teach and was devoted to this task.
Meir Pshitiker (Rakatch)
His Kheder was at 59 Voel Street. He taught Pentateuch, Rashi and the beginning of Gemara. He was not too strict however taught his students with discipline.
His Kheder was at 19 Skarishevska Street. He was an understanding man and a good teacher of Pentateuch and Rashi.
This was a modern Kheder on Shpatzir Street. He taught bible, Rashi, Hebrew and general subjects. He was a cultured man with fine mores. His Kheder quickly became a school.
Mordkhai Volf Blushteyn
His Kheder was at 33 Voel Street. In Mali the tavern keeper's house. He taught 20 students from important families. His school was under the supervision of the government and he hired a special teacher to teach Russian and mathematics. He was an Alexander Hasid.
He had his Kheder at 5 Staro Krakovska Street. He taught Gemara to Bar Mitzvah boys and was as excellent commentator. He was a passionate Alexander Hasid.
Shloime Reykhnadl (The Litvak)
They called him The Litvak (Lithuanian) because of his Lithuanian accent. His Kheder was at 45 Skarishevska Street where there was also a House of Study. He was learned in Torah and had pedagogic talents. He also taught children in the ghetto. He was killed with two of his sons. One son and three daughters live in Israel.
Shloime Meir Finegold
He was the son in law the teacher Avrom Tzuker. He live at 3 Lubliner Street and taught bible, Talmud and Hebrew at various Kheders and then at the Mizrachi school, Yavne. He taught for free at the orphanage where he also led services and led the Passover Seders. He was a Vork Hasid and an enthusiastic Lover of Zion. He died in 1943.
His son Mordkhai (Marek) survived and lives in Israel.
Hirsh Ber Gomulkes
His Kheder was in Mali the tavern keeper's house. He taught Pentateuch, and Rashi until the beginning of Gemara . He was the manager of the Alexander prayer house. He would organized feasts for the new month, evening meals to mark the end of the Sabbath, and memorials to commemorate the death of the Rebbe. He immigrated to America and died there.
Asher Gutman and Moishe Zayontz
They were partners in a Kheder at 21 Lubliner Street. They were both learned in Torah and men of action. They were both killed in the Holocaust.
He taught Hebrew, foreign languages and mathematics. He instilled a love for bible in his students. He later became a merchant.
Yosl Pshemislav (Namen)
He was the son in law of Avreyml Akiva Yosef's. He was a private tutor for Hebrew, bible and Jewish studies. He later learnt ceramics and worked with his children at Rotenberg's crockery factory. He was a well known singer and led services at the Zionist quorum at 25 Zheromsky Street.
Yosl Korman (Yosl Kadoles)
He had a modern Kheder in Rog Rvaynske and Rinek. He was a calm and reasonable person.
Yakov Meir, Dudl Kazanover, Avigdor Migdalek, Hirsh Ber Gniveshover, Avreymele Akiva Yosef's Zhurov and others.
These were all well known Gemara tutors, great Talmudic scholars and good people. Some of them only taught 34 rich boys, bridegrooms. They all educated generations of honest, good Jews with love for sacred books and Jewish sources.
by A. Rozenfeld
Translated by Janie Respitz
In 19121914 the students in Dr. Yazhinsky's science oriented school decided to organize a student battalion Hashomer which would serve as a dam against assimilation. The head of the battalion was Khaim Rozenzveig (Ben Menachem, the present chief director of the post office in Israel), who was already then an energetic young man and a good speaker. Among the company leaders were Yerakhmiel Raykhman, Yosef Shtiler and Khaim Rozenfeld. Every company was divided in a few groups and I had the privilege of leading a group.
Simultaneously the girls created a battalion and among the leaders were Ruzhke Mushkatblit, Hanke Vaysman and Dvoyre Golembiyovsky.
All three are now living in Israel.
The goal was to attract the young generation to the Zionist spirit. We did not have a locale and our work was carried out in Glozman's garden and outings to Antonyuke and the Kafter forest. We had very interesting conversations about Zionism, Jewish history and
learned a lot from our commanders. We learned Hebrew with a distinct zeal. As we learned to pitch tents quickly, tie and untie knots, partook in various sports competitions, we quickly surpassed the Polish scouts. Our battalion belonged to the Kielce circle. We arranged conventions for the battalion heads, listened to lectures rich in content, met the new commanders like Berland, Yakubzon, Rikhtman, Edelshteyn, Krystal, Shitenberg and others.
I remember an incident in 1914 when I returned with my groups from an outing in the Kafter forest. We marched with uniforms and sticks and a Cossack patrol detained us. They wanted to scare us but we answered their questions calmly. As they did not find anything to pick on they allowed us to continue our march back to the city.
Many members of our battalion were among the first pioneers in 1918 who immigrated to the Land of Israel.
The Jewish Academic Club
Those who belonged to the Jewish Academic Club either studied in Polish universities or due to the fact that many faculties in Polish higher education were either half closed or entirely closed to Jews, had to leave and study abroad. Almost all these students were graduates of Hovevei Daat or as we called it in Polish Pshitshul Viedzi. The amount of students from Radom fluctuated from 150250. In Warsaw our students had the reputation of being intelligent, with sharp minds who catch on quickly and do well on exams.
One characteristic of the students from Radom was their love for Yiddish. Yiddish was their natural everyday language, just like the students from Vilna province. The Academic Club mainly carried out its activities in a folksy Yiddish spirit. They organized lectures, discussion evenings and live newspapers on a high level.
In later years when the situation changed a bit, we heard less about the Jewish Academic Club. However it did not switch to an assimilation path and continued to work for the Jewish national cause.
Hundreds of our students passed through the Academic Club where they found a friendly environment and a lot of interesting topics to enjoy.
by Dr. Henia Rakotch, Haifa
Translated by Janie Respitz
Just like the Poles who founded a musical institute Lutnia the Jews created the Hazamir Club, under the direction of Dr. Gershon Levin. As a respected Yiddish writer, Dr. Gershon Levin had great influence on Jewish youth in general and specifically on the Hazamir Club. He even succeeded in bringing assimilated youth closer to Yiddish culture.
Dr. Levin was connected to Radom from his early youth when he studied at the Russian gymnasia. He later married here and was the soninlaw of Shmelke, the owner of the leather factory.
The following were active in Hazamir: the engineer Leon Bekerman, the curator of the Jewish hospital Yekhiel Kamer, Yakov Friedman, Piatr Frenkel, Ferman, Bramson, Mikhal Oppenheim, Eli Zhpeyzman, Sholem Diament, Markus, Yehoshua Tzuker, Dr. Henia Rakotch, Ludvig Briliant, Motl Kirshteyn, Mundsheyn, Miss Gershteyn, Gutzi Zisman, Dovid Shtroyzman, and many others who were active in Tzirei Zion, the Bund, and the socialist movement.
The locale of Hazamir was at 12 Warshaver Street on the third floor where they carried out diversified work. There was a rich Yiddish Hebrew library, which had many books
in other languages. From time to time lectures and literary evenings would take place there as well. There was also a drama club which performed the plays of Sholem Aleichem and Sholem Asch. The HazamirClub brought the well known writer Ruven Brainen to give a lecture. He attended a performance of the drama club and reacted warmly.
Later the Hazamir moved to 8 Mletchna Street.
The Hazamir created a symphony orchestra comprised of 20 men and was conducted by Aharon Shtelman. It did not take long for the orchestra to reach a high musical level.
Until the First World War Hazamir was the only cultural corner which embraced Jewish youth. Unfortunately, the First World War interrupted the cultural activity of the Hazamir Club.
P. Giser's Music School
In 1916 a musical society Harp was founded. The conductor and director was Goldblum. Later, a choir was found at the scout organization Hatzofim, directed by the engineer Artur Goldblum. The drive toward music continued to grow resulting in 1917 when Mr. P. Giser's opened a music school with a limited amount of students. The school was situated at 8 Zgodne Street. Mr. Giser taught violin and Madame Luria taught piano, later, Mr. Shvoger. Thanks to the idealistic stubbornness of Mr. Giser, the school became an exemplary institution. They educated musicians who were well recognized and this brought a lot of honour to our city.
The first student concert took place in the hall of the Zionist Organization. The following excelled: Simkha Bakman, Tinovitsky, Zaydenshir, Viner and Veytznblat.
The closing of the first school year was celebrated in a packed hall. The school orchestra, among other pieces, played Mendelsohn's Hochtzeyt and Heine's Lorelei. The Rubinshteyn brothers also had great success with their solo number (violin and cello).
In 1920 the school orchestra played Verdi's Nebuchadnezer, Tchaikovsky's Song Without Words, and Brahms' Hungarian Dance. After wild applause the violinist Volman performed Mozart's Third Fantasy.
A year later the following students excelled: Zaydenshir, Bielsky, Shtelman and Glat.
The school grew and gained a great reputation. That same year, it was officially recognized and received a government permit.
However despite all this success, Mr. P. Giser struggled bitterly for the school's existence, which was famous throughout Poland. In 1925 Moishe Stashevsky wrote an article the Radom newspaper appealing to the cultural community to support the school which was in a difficult financial situation.
Theatre and Art
Jewish Radom loved theatre, concerts, literary lectures and recitations and generally, art and cultural presentations. A good theatre always had success and the actors would leave with moral and material satisfaction. Impresarios from Warsaw would always stop in Radom when they toured the country. It is interesting, for example to mention a few artists who appeared here over the past few years and were warmly received by our local press;
Misha and Lucy German gave 5 performances of Mother and MotherinLaw and returned for two more performances.
The Theatre Without Makeup gave one experimental performance.
The Troupe: Dovid Birenboym, Dovid likht, Dovid Sherman and Yakov Kurleneder.
Lola Polman, who first came with a concert of folk songs, and later came leading a large ensemble with two performances of Yitzkhak Perlov's operetta As Long as we See Each Other.
Rokhl Holtzer, Yosef Kamen, Avrom Volfshtat performed the play Life and Death directed by Dr. Mikhal Veykhert.
Noyekh Nakhbush gave a word concert.
The Vilna ensemble of Khash, Kadish, Nekhama and Leyb Shriftzetzer came and gave three performances.
A musical vocal evening performed by Radom actors in the hall of the World Zionist Organization included: A. Gutman on violin, accompanied by Miss P. Kurtz. Miss M. Grosfeld singer and Miss Tz. Hokhberg, piano.
The columnist B. Shefner gave a lecture at the Worker's House.
An exhibition of the pictures of Rafael Mandeltzveig took place at the Intellectual Club. Some of the pictures were bought by a visitor and some were bought by the administration of the club to be raffled off among the members and with the revenue going toward the club.
An exhibit of the pictures of the Tzitrin brothers took place in the three large halls of the Intellectual Club. Due to the great interest the exhibit was moved to The World Organization at 55 Traugutta Street.
The Dramatic Club
Even before Hazamir there were efforts to create dramatic clubs. The newspaper Izraelita (January 1902) describes a Chanukah evening in Radom organized by amateurs. They performed a comedy which was received with great applause. After, they performed a fragment of Gilinsky's Jews and The Last Moments of a Righteous Man, directed by Professor Ludvig Briliant. The clean profit earned from three evenings of packed halls (although the religious and assimilated boycotted), was 300 ruble. The entire amount was spent on buying coal for the needy.
On the eve of the First World War another drama club was organized which performed L. Kobrin's The Village Youth. There was a second drama club whose participants were Yoineh Kadishevitch, Yakov Frenkel, Shtelman, Sender Vayngart and Mrs. Goldshleger. Their goal was to perform only better plays. To achieve this goal they invited the director Oscar from St. Petersburg.
A third drama club was comprised of Moishe Rubinshteyn, Y. Volkozh, Vaygnshpreg, and Y. Feldman. A fourth was founded by the craftsmen's union under the direction of Ludvig Briliant. The women's ensemble included Dobrele Huberman, Ruzhke Veyl, they young Rubinshteyn and the teacher Markus' daughter. Men: Khaim Leybush Huberman, Tzolke Likhtenshteyn, Yosef Fishman, Yekhiel Guterman, Kintzler, Shloime Zvolinsky and Yisroel Tzeygnberg. It was directed by the artistic couple Itzkovitch. The performances were very well attended.
The craftsmen's club also had a cultural commission comprised of: Yosl Sokolovsky, Moishe Zayfman, Kh. L. Huberman, Binyomin Hokhman, Yosef Fishman and others. They would organize lectures about Yiddish literature and other artistic fields.
by Dr. Khaim Elboym
Translated by Janie Respitz
The first drama club of the left wing Labour Zionists (in the locale of the professional union) was organized by Khaim Leybush Huberman who was the darling of the section. He not only taught us how to act, but also respect for the stage and instilled in us a love for dramatic works.
I remember how Huberman directed Bimko's Thieves. In order to set an example he played every role for us boldly portraying each character. He laughed, cried, whispered and shouted. He displayed mildness and anger. He did the same for women's roles. We admired him, studied and copied all his movements and intonations. He left every rehearsal wet and exhausted. But he achieved what he wanted: the performances were very successful.
Later there was some reorganization and a youth drama club was created. Among others, those who belonged were: Ruzhke Gluzman, Zlitzka, Kenigsberg, Taykhman, Genieh Elboym, Fraydl Shildkroyt, Moishe Burshteyn, M. Fuks, Eli Handelsman, Avrom Moshkovitch, the little Khaim Elboym and of course, Huberman.
The youngest, who had less chance of getting lines created their own dramatic section at 16 Rvainska Street and invited Yosef Sokolovsky to be the director. He presented Sholem Aleichem's The Divorce. Zekharia Vayntroyb gave us lectures about theatre and the task of a drama club. This club was comprised of: Shmerl Lipshitz, Shloime Guthertz, Khaim Korman, Yitzkhak Vaytzman, Khaim Elboym, M. Kuperberg, Levi Mandel, Avrom Koloditzky, Eli Luxenburg, Goldfarb, Sh. Horovitch, Beynish Moishe Kleynman, Shaindl Gutman, Bashke Grinberg, Esther Handelsman, Karinska, Golda Goldshteyn, Rayzl Goldshteyn, amd Gitl Moshkovitch.
Frayndl Zaltzman got the role of the rabbi's wife, and I got the role of the rabbi. We began to rehearse and I used our neighbour, the Kviver Rabbi as a prototype. I also was related to Avrom Lipe Den where the Kozhnitzer Rebbe, Reb Eliezer Elimeylekh, of blessed memory lived. My wife was the daughter of a religious teacher. The role was not foreign to her either. The rehearsals lasted three months. Each of us had to find his own costume and props. It was worse for my partner as she had to sneak everything out as her parents could not find out she had anything to do with entertainers…We performed for a packed hall at the Zionist Organization and the audience applauded enthusiastically.
Encouraged by the success we then performed Y.L. Peretz's It's Burning, Peretz Hirshbein's Infamy, Kobrin's The Village Youth, An Ski's The Dybbuk, Sholem Asch's Motke the Thief, Gutchkov's Uriel Acosta, one act plays and concerts. The Dybbuk was directed by the actor Jacques Levi. We would often invite professional directors and lecturers on theatre and art. We experienced trouble for a while from the police agent Bakhner until we received legalization with membership cards from the police. Our business director, Shloime Horovitch (now a PhD in Chicago) arranged, that with our membership cards, we could go to the cinema for free. Something we really enjoyed.
All the proceeds went toward our small library and for the tasks of the club. We were only permitted, after a performance to buy a drink. We would often perform to raise money for various institutions. We also often helped poor wandering troupes. If they were lacking actors, we would help out free of charge. We accepted invitations from surrounding towns and went on tour. They promised at least to cover our expenses, but it did happen that we had to pawn various items in order to pay for out trip home…
One time, we arrived in Kozienice in an open truck. Our prima donna caught a cold and was developed a hoarse throat. The local medic tried to help but nothing worked. He advised her to drink a Gogl Mogl. We had advice but no money. Sitting despondent by the patient's bed we noticed a small box under the bed. The box was filled with eggs. We immediately whipped up a Gogl Mogl and poured it down the prima donna's throat. By now we were all feeling hoarse so we all began to drink the Gogl Mogl. We were all feeling better when suddenly the electricity went out. What will happen? All the cards in the fire fighter's barn were sold, but something happened at the electrical plant, an obstacle: No lights!
The next day, somehow, we performed. When we went to settle with the hotel clerk, it turns out he discovered the mess in his egg box.
The bill was unaffordable and we had to leave him a promissory note…
I would like to conclude with an episode about our performance of The Talmudic Scholar. The lead role was played by Tzipora Rozentzveyg, the daughter of the sauerkraut seller on Blakharsky Street, who was very religious. He found out his daughter was acting and he came to the performance and caused a scandal:
I will not allow my daughter to become a con artist; over my dead body! This minute, right now, go home!
Our pleading and Tziporah's spasms and fainting did not help. We had to call the police to intervene. After long and difficult negotiations we reached a compromise and both sides agreed that Tziporah would perform that day for the last time. The audience received her with thunderous applause and she really shone in this lead role.
Later, Tziporah became an active Communist and married Elimeylekh Zinenberg who carried out the death sentence of the provocateur Bakhner on the steps of Khvat's hall. Right after, they both left for Russia.
This drama club was just one small flower in the colourful bouquet of cultural activity in Radom. This city of business and industry had a lively interest in culture and art and many young talented people came to our succulent soil.
Translated by Janie Respitz
The Zionist Library
The Zionist Library was founded through Kultura on 9 Varshaver Street, but during the Soviet Polish war the location was taken over and a large portion of the books were lost.
Only in 1925 did activity resume and the library was named for Yitzkhak Grinboym.
The Zionist Library was one of the largest libraries in town. It had more than seven thousand books in various languages including one thousand Hebrew and two thousand five hundred Yiddish.
The library was situated in the locale of the Zionist Organization at 25 Zheromskiego Street and had the largest amount of readers who read mainly literature.
Every day around 150 books were exchanged by subscribers who were served by 56 librarians for an hour and a half.
The Peretz Library
This library was founded in 1919 by the scout's organization Hashomer Hatazir. It was totally supported by membership dues and subscribers. This library had barely two hundred young readers.
The Library of the General Worker's Cooperative
It was founded in 1928 by the Bund and the Bund youth group Tzukunft at the cooperative and it represented an integral part of Bundist cultural activity.
In the early years there were only two hundred books, mainly in Yiddish.
The library served the Jewish workers who joined the professional union and whose offices were at the same location.
The membership dues were very low, 30 50 groshen a month. However the request for books was great and the initiators looked for ways to expand the library.
The Library at the Jewish Craftsmen's Club
Before the First World War this library had four thousand books, mainly Yiddish. During the war years and the occupation the library suffered great damages but after the war activity was resumed and it continued to grow and develop until the Holocaust.
The Mizrachi Library
This library was founded in 1916 on the premises of the Mizrachi organization and the books were mainly in the spirit of the movement that founded this library. The library had about one thousand volumes, Hebrew and Yiddish. Most of its readers were men and young people from business families.
You can read more about the aforementioned libraries and a few others; their organizers, librarians and activities in the section Movements, to which these libraries belonged.
by Kh. L. Huberman (Paris)
Translated by Janie Respitz
The most interesting period in the lives of the Jews in Radom began with the Jewish Enlightenment movement. This movement was led by Yisroel Frenkel who was bitterly opposed by the religious fanatics. The Hasidim simply cursed him. He had to put up with a lot but he courageously continued his battle and succeeded in his short life to introduce the youth to a new path and instill in them a desire for education and knowledge. His students were both young and from the older generation of the middle class who stubbornly helped him in his fight for enlightenment. His followers were Peretz Bushatzky, Palti Mushkatblit, Hershl Khvat, Sholem Diament, and others who later became leaders in the Zionist movement. However, the Jewish enlightenment did not only lead to Zionism. It awoke a sleepy generation and led them toward intelligent thought.
In the revolutionary days of 1905 our youth consisted of aware and courageous fighters from the intelligentsia as well as the workers, like the brothers Dovid and Gdaliye Veyntroyb, Shmuel Teykhman, Motl Shuster and others. During the bloody demonstrations against the province, where soldiers shot, our first revolutionary victim fell, Aron Itzik, a tailor's son from Synagogue Street. Others were wounded. But this did not stop the revolutionary drive. They carried out an attempted assassination with the bombing of the regional police superintendent. This took place in broad daylight on Lubliner Street. The Jewish young men were arrested, tortured and sentenced to many years in prison and sent to the far reaches of Siberia. Shmuel Teykhman was among them. After drowning in blood, the Russian revolution in the industrial city of Radom remained well organized, and a strong worker's centre that played a significant role in communal life.
In those years the Sobotniye Shkola (Saturday School) was founded for young workers, run by the brothers Yekhiel and Pinte Frenkel through Leon Bekerman, Palti Mushkatblit, Sholem Diament and Yitzkhak Brikman. Two evenings a week they taught reading and writing and on Saturday afternoon they taught bible, Jewish history and other subjects. The literary club Hazamir already existed as well as the dramatic section with the participation of Yoineh Kadishevitch, Yenkl Frenkel, Shtelman, Sender Vayngart and Miss Goldshleger. Under the direction of Oscar, the director from St. Petersburg they performed very successful, serious classic plays. Later a second drama club was founded by Moishe Rubinshteyn, Yehuda Volkarzh and Yisroel Feldman.
However all of this changed when Yakov Stravchinsky, Briliant, Mosihe Rubinshteyn, Moishe Huberman and Binyomin Hokhman founded the Craftsmen's Club on Lubliner Street. This was a large place with a performance hall and many rooms for various types of entertainment. There was an inexpensive buffet, chess tables, dominos, billiards, and a reading room with an extensive library. This is where the real drama club was created with the participation of: Briliant, Khaim Leybush Huberman, Tzalke Likhtnshteyn, Yosef Fishman, Yekhiel Guterman, Kintzler, Shloime Zvolinsky, and Yisroel Tzveygnberg. The women were: Dobrele Huberman, Ruzhe Veyl, the little Rubinshteyn and Markus Lerer's daughter. They were directed by the professional actors Itzkovitch and his wife. Their performances were always well attended and successful.
Every Saturday the club would hold lectures on the Yiddish classics. This was run by a literary commission consisting of: Yosl Sokolovsky, Moishe Zayfman, Khaim Leybush Huberman, Binyomin Hokhman and Yosl Fishman.
Besides the modern Heders (religious schools), like the Old School, a continuation of Yisroel Frenkel's, Pomeratnz's School and others, there was already a Hebrew School under the direction of Leybush Milman. This was made up of the Kadimah group of Shmule Eliye Morgolis and Nokhem Plotzky (who were, by the way sentenced, by the Austrian occupation authorities for their open protest against the position of certain Jewish organizations during the funeral of the convert Dr. Fidler).
The Zionist youth who were studying on Varshaver Street had their own society called Kultura. The working youth took their example and created the Worker's Library also on Varshaver Street which after a few months had around two hundred members. They organized evening courses, lectures, entertainment evenings and performances.
All the cultural work unfortunately came to an end with the outbreak of the First World War. The Jews of Radom went through a lot and the city took on a sad appearance. The hatred of the Jews by the Russians and the Poles left an impression. There were many homeless arriving from surrounding towns, naked and barefoot. The Craftsmen's Club quickly created
a Centre for the homeless where they organized aid. A bigger problem was the change of authorities, and the arrest of many Jews accused of espionage. In Rotenberg's tannery they arrested Reb Feyvele (the son of the Alexander Rebbe who was Rotengerg's soninlaw) and two more Jews from Rotenberg's family. They were dragged to the Kapter forest and hanged without a trial. Rotenberg's soninlaw and two more Jewish boys, Moishe Goldberg and Kadish Volokh were hanged by the Russians.
The Jewish population breathed more freely under the Austrian occupation. A few young people signed up to work in Vienna and others found work locally. Life normalized and communal activities resumed. The Worker's Library immediately transformed into a Union. It developed into a professional movement which included all the working youth. This is when Dovid Eynhorn arrived, who with the help of Leybush Huberman and Yosl Sokolovsky, reformed the library. Gitl Aylboym worked there energetically.
For a while the union was non partisan, but soon split into two political orientations: Eynhorn and Fuks represented the Bund and in opposition to them were the Poalei Zion (TheLabour Zionists) Dovid Vayntroyb, Shmuel Teykhman, Zekhariya Vayntroyb and Moishe Zayfman. The union was divided into two political parties: the Bund and Poalei Zion. These two movements that always fought each other grew strong and played a large role in communal and political life. After the creation of the Polish State, both movements held a respected position in the first elections of city council.
Besides the drama club Kultura which performed the play Moishe in Hebrew, with the participation of Khanele Volf, there was also a drama club at the Worker's Home, led by Kh. L. Huberman with the participation of Moishe Fuks, Moishe Milkhiker, Moishe Boym, Yosef Fishmnan, Yosef Sokolovsky, Khaim Migdal, Gitl Aylboym, Esther Zalitzky, Hela Glikman, Perele Tzuker and Dorkeh Zayfman. The drama club of the Worker's Union was led by Lioteh, however in 1920 all the drama clubs were united in one club named The Peretz Corner.
The Temerzon School played an important role. They did not teach on Saturday so children from religious families that could not go to Christian high schools attended. The students of Temerzon School continued on to universities in Poland and abroad, for example: Fishl and Bunem Tzuker, Shayndele and Nosn Huberman, Georges Blikher, Zilberberg, Solkeh Diament, Yulke Mandel and Sokolovsky.
After the Balfour Decleration, an intensive immigration movement began to the Land of Israel. The first to emigrate from our city were Moishe Leyb Royzenberg (Shoshani), Shmuel Naydik, Ovadiah Moishe Margolis, Yehuda Goldshteyn and many other pioneers who helped build the Jewish land.
by Malka Royzntzveyg Plotzky (Paris)
Translated by Janie Respitz
Oh, hometown of Radom, you are alive in my memory,
With the same charm and the same beauty,
As in my childhood, my youth,
Until night descended upon you.
A bright wide street, where our house stood,
Across from our house the green meadows continue
All the way to the distant valley;
The fruit orchards blossom
They certainly are blooming today as in the past.
When this once was a city of Jews
If every person in heaven has his star,
Train station, cities and borders and countries.
The world is beautiful. Every town, its lustre,
Today sons and daughters are walking in your parks,
Only the mark of Cain remains on your face,
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