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[Page 263]

In the Newspaper Editorial Rooms

Translation by Naomi Gal

First buds of local journalism

In view of infinite numbers, ten–years time is nothing, but considering the huge distance we covered during that time in the political, economic, the national and social areas, particularly when it comes to local newspapers, it would not be an exaggeration if we would say that these ten years were equal to the whole history.

The buds of local journalism were sown in Rovno many years ago. Already in 1910–1914 there were in Rovno two general newspapers in Russian “Volhynia Misel” and “Yogo–Zapadenya Volhyn” whose editors, writers and readers were Jews and most of the content was Jewish lives.

In 1918 “Kadima”, a bi–weekly magazine, was published in Russian, a mouthpiece of Histadrut, the Zionist Students Union; in 1919 Rovno's Jews tried to publish: “Ne Starezshe”, a newspaper in Russian, but due to political instability in those days it stopped after one issue; Tarbut Hebrew Gymnasium had a student newsletter for many years.

At the beginning of the twenties, after the stabilization of the Polish Regime in the western part of Volhynia, there were several newspapers which survived only because of the many commercial ads Rovno had aplenty as a big commercial center.

Back then, in 1922, L. Gotlieb and I. Fagel founded a daily newspaper; this one too, a bulletin–board, which was distributed in synagogues and every public area.


Di Yiddishe voch (“The Yiddish Week”)

But this conditional partnership did not last, and when the commercials' frenzy subsided, the collaboration dissolved and I. Fagel founded (1924) the first magazine in Volhynia called: “Di Yiddishe Voch” with S. Shraier (Shrira) as the literary editor, who was a prominent figure of Hitahdut Party and hence brought with him most of the writers and readers from the Zionist Circles. Among the participants in this newspaper were L. Spielberg, M. Holoveshka, Z. Bramnik, A. Shtil and others.

There were quite a few comical moments in this romantic period of the newspaper. When the first issue of “Di Yiddishe Voch” was published in Rovno and sent to the provincial cities, it was a real historic event. The villages were astonished by this newspaper, as if it was a rare entity from abroad. Until then everybody believed that a writer and journalist was someone invisible who sees but is unseen, lives in Paris, London, Warsaw – and all of a sudden it is only “Bryl” and “Shmeril”, our own flesh and blood. On Saturday the newspaper was brought to the synagogue and on Friday to the public–bath; Yeshiva students brought the newspaper to their fathers–in–law to show them their poetry or at least their own name printed in square font on a greeting–announcement…


Volhyner Voch

This first magazine did not live for long; due to lack of experience, it stumbled through careless publication and was closed by the authorities but was able to assemble a circle

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of local writers and forge a road for the future of Volhynia's long–lasting journalism.

Instead of the magazine that was closed, Rovno produced two others. One was “Volhyner Voch”, published by L. Gotlieb, I. Fager previous partner. This magazine was published from 1924 to 1926 with the participation of experienced writers and journalists.


Volhyner Leben

The second magazine – “Volhyner Leben” was published by I. Fagel, the other partner, with the literary editing of M. Holoveshka. This newspaper was sort of a continuation of “Di Yiddishe Voch” and like its predecessor paid detailed attention to local lives. For this purpose, Asher Shtil, the famous chronicler was summoned, he demonstrated vast knowledge in all Rovno's public areas. The newspaper contacted known writers and journalists and soon found its appropriate place in Rovno and Volhynia public life, and even became a bi–weekly.

This lasted for a few years. The Rovno and Volhynia public became accustomed to their own newspaper, around which a decent entourage of local and non–local writers and journalists congregated. The public institutions and entrepreneurs realized that an article in a Rovno Newspaper had a weight and impact no less than a metropolitan newspaper and the newspaper had great opportunity to become a daily.


Volhyner Zeitung

However, the period of economic crisis in Poland, the famous, or infamous “Gravsky Days” put an end to these wishful hopes. Old firms crumbled and were destroyed because of this harmful man, and the Volhyner Leben had to reduce its publication to once a week, and it was near closing. In those difficult days H. B. Baranik (Ayalon), one of the more seasoned local writers and journalists, was summoned to help as the editor and publisher of the newspaper whose name was changed to “Volhyner Zietung”.


The editorial and administration of “Volhyner Leben”

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Despite the time's hardships the new editors managed to continue the Volhynia's newspaper's tradition and elevate its standard literary and socially, putting its pages in the service of the Zionist Idea and educating its readers to civic–public consciousness. The best writers and journalists proposed to contribute to this newspaper and it had regular reporters in every city and village in Volhynia and Polesie, and in the cities Austraah, Dubno, and Krementz branches were opened with special editions.

At this time, they were about to celebrate ten years of the newspaper, and preparations began, but H. B. Bararnik made Aliya and the anniversary was celebrated belatedly by I. Bord, the last editor of the newspaper. By then the newspaper was called “Volhyner Nise”_


Diverse Newspapers

In the fifteen years of the existence (1924–1939) of “Volhyner Leben – Zietung Nise” newspaper it had competitors, newspapers that appeared in Rovno one by one but did not last long.

With Yagoda and Boim as editors a weekly magazine named “Volhyner Shtime” was published and with S. Wogmiester as editor B. Gam's “Das Niye Vert”, newspaper was published. A serious effort was made by I. Marcuse, a Warsaw journalist who together with the Warsaw newspaper “Der Yiddishe Courier” founded the daily newspaper “Volhyner Yiddishe Courier” (1933). A modest attempt was made (1932) to publish a Hebrew Newspaper called “Hebrew Volhynia”, a bi–weekly in a booklet format dedicated to the Hebrew movement and creation, but it did not last. And the very last (1934) – “Unzer Voge” a very pleasant weekly that gathered all Rovno and its surroundings' literary and publicist talents, after “Vlhyner Nise” lost face.

(A photo bottom of page 266)

(Under the photo) The Members of “Volhyner Zietung” Editorial

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Opposite Rovno and other Volhynia cities, many Jewish newspapers stood alone but not isolated. “Eke Volhyskaia” the spokesmen of the ruling Polish minority, threw its witty arrows at Jews public matters and its newspapers whenever possible.


In the City's Council

Dispersing the city's council

In the last meeting of the city council, on May 10, 1932 the decree by the “Voyevoda” about dispersing the council was read. It was said that among the council's members there were some who were guilty of acting against the state, culpable of criminal actions etc.

The date for the new elections was to be revealed later. Reliable sources reported that the elections would be held in the middle of the next month.


Rovno during elections

The city and the suburban populations were divided into 5 election–regions. Amid the participating Jews were: Yosef Mann – deputy chairman, Fisyook, Zibes, Josphsberg, Ben–Zion Rider – members, Yehoshua Goldberg, B. Goldman, M. Goldstein – deputies.

The general list of those who could vote numbered 22,124 men. It was hard to determine the number of the Jewish votes since the responsible councils did not impart information voluntarily.

In an election meeting the “Community” assembled on May 22 it was decided that the community would draw up a special list to represent all the different classes of the Jewish population in town. Members of the new council were elected: Liberman, Stock, Josepberg, Sizak, Zigelboim, Salzman, Goldman, Tapper, Gelzer, Shtivolman, Milmister, Pialkov, Mann.

In the Zionist camp a National Economic Coalition was assembled with the participation of: A. The Zionist General Union B. Hitahhdit the Zionist labor Party C. The Zionist Party “Mizrahi” D. Ahdut – the religious organization E. The Jewish Tradesman Organization F. The Jewish Merchants Organization F. The Small Businesses Organization G. The Jewish Landlords Organization.

The candidates of the National–Economic Coalition were:

  1. Dr. M. W. Rotfeld – The Zionist Union's Chairman
  2. Dr. Leon Bachar, a lawyer – representing Small Businesses Organization.
  3. Zvi Heller – The Community Council's chairman, representing the Landlords' Organization.
  4. Engineer Peres, architect – representing the Tradesmen Organization.
  5. Yohanan Levin – a member of Poland's Hitahdut Council, member of Ort's Chairmanship.
  6. Yosef Vigdorovitz – a merchant and landlord.
  7. Engineer B. Kagan – member of Keren Hayesod Chairmanship, a previous City Council member.
  8. Leib Chrel – a hatter, representative of the Tradesmen Organization.
  9. Bienish Goldman – the representative of the Small Businesses Organization.
  10. Zvi Ridel, a landlord – representing the General Zionist Union.
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  1. Wolf Tapper – Chairman of the Small Businesses Organization.
  2. Yahushua Erlich – representing the Jewish Merchant Organization.
  3. Reuven Gasko, photographer – Representative of Tradesmen Organization.
  4. Leib Spielberg – The director of the Orphans' Institutions Center in Volhynia, Rovno's Hitahdut's Chairman.
  5. Itzhak Berliner Bank Director – member of the directorate of Rovno's Orphans Institution.
  6. Nissan Stol – representative of Ahdut, the religious organization.
  7. Shlomo Shumar – representative of the Small Businesses Organization
  8. Moshe Karshon, a merchant – representing the General Zionist Union.
  9. Moshe Servetnik, small business – member of Rovno's Hitahdut's directorate.
  10. Zina Galperin, photographer – representing the Tradesmen Organization.
  11. Yosef Lerner – member of the directorate and representing the Jewish Merchants Organization.
  12. Yehuda Fox, merchant – representing the Jewish Merchants Organization.
  13. Moshe Knijnik, leather worker – representing the Jewish Merchants Organization.
  14. Koifman Gasser, metal worker – representing the Tradesmen Organization.
  15. Avraham Schwartz – representative of Small Businesses.
  16. Itzhak Krishtal – Rovno's Hitahdut's member.
  17. Yaakov Brik – member of the Small Businesses' directorate.
  18. Israel Isser Weinstein, silversmith – representing the Tradesmen Organization.
  19. Aaron Krok – representative of Tradesmen Organization.
  20. Shlomo Haim Eizengart – representing Tradesmen Organization.
There was no unity in the ranks of the workers. The Bund issued their own list headed by Gorin, Nahis, Shektov. At the head of the Professional Unions were: Dannenberg, Hersh Zir, Lahovsky and others. Special parties were Zibes and his entourage, Binenboim from “Kavkaz”, the neighbors and others.

The non–Jewish population unified in one strong coalition including Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Czechs and Germans and this was their strength and hope. As for the Jews, it is doubtful that they would be able to appear on June 12 more united than they were; while facing one Christian Party the Jews had 9 diverse parties.


Protest against the election results

Here are the results for the new City Council, but some changes would be made:

From the Christian population 24 members, divided between the different minorities: Poles 14, Ukrainians 5, Russians 3, and Czechs 2.

From the Jewish National Coalition 7 members. By the order of this list the council members were: Lawyer Rothfeld, Lawyer Bahar, Engineer Peres, I. Gilerman, I. Levin, engineer B. Kahan.

From list no. 3 – M. Josephsberg.

The National Economic Coalition (list no. 7) was unsatisfied with the election process and filed an official complaint about the way the elections were run, its legitimacy and the results on the date and the conditions according to Election Law.

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In the Community's Council

“Maot Hitin” Endeavor

After a harsh winter Rovno's Poor suffered, many of them became ill from hunger and cold; the hope to get some assistance for Passover evaporated.

For a few weeks the community members set night after night discussing the budget, but more than taking care of the poor, they “handled” politics and filling of public offices, while the poor, who supposedly were the reason for these arguments, were not saved by all this, and hundreds of families were going to be without Matzos for Passover.

Some of the council members convened for deliberations at the house of Mr. Hirsh Heller, the community head and it was decided to issue a public pamphlet stating that as a result of the division of hearts prevailing in the community, it is impossible for it to perform any Passover Endeavor.

Finally, Rovno's Rabbis and VIP's were summoned to tackle this obstacle and fulfill “Maot Hitin” obligation. (a special Passover Charity collecting money so that the poor can have matzos); however, the rabbis from all the synagogues were unable to do much since “Maot Hitin” the previous year hardly reached 2000 goldens. There was a last–minute miracle the previous year when an urgent assistance was received from “Alliance Israelite” but miracles do not happen every year, although Rabbi Moshe–Laser did address Rabbi Professor Shor in Warsaw.

The number of fund–raisers diminished as well this year and previously rich people could not or did not want to donate for this purpose while the number of needy people became much greater, so that the sums collected for “Maot Hitin” was like a drop in the sea.


Elections for the community Rabbi not certified

The election of the rabbi by H. Grinfeld, who was proposed and elected as Rovno's community rabbi was not certified by the Minister of Education and Religions since the community's directorate who held these elections was not certified as a directorate.

Efforts were made to correct the situation and set new, legal elections. The rumors in certain circles was that Rabbi Soroshkin, the community rabbi of Lutsk was about to submit his candidacy for Rovno's Rabbi.


Agreement for payment for Kosher Meat

When a payment for kosher meat for the welfare of the community was determined, there was hope that now would be some action in that matter, but the curse of the quarrels and divisions of opinions, which weighed on all the community's activities, smoldered all hopes and the disorder and incompetence continued to prevail.

Bernstein, the community council chairman summoned the directorate to an urgent meeting, but only three came to the set date: they were the chairman himself, his depute Binnenboim and Sizak, while the five remaining members: Dr. Goyzenberg, Zoyman, Bookimer, Lerner and Ziks announced in writing that they would not attend because the meetings were not run properly. The copy of this letter was sent to Mr. Levin, the chairman of the Audit Committee who informed Mr. Heller, the Council's Chairman.

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The new agreement of donations from the community was breached by the butchers shortly after it was issued. The butchers, demanding certain reductions from payments, submitted a proposal to the Municipality, and when it was refused, begun slaughtering in the surrounding areas, where the expenses were smaller, this caused a considerable damage to the municipality and the community. All sides were summoned to the “Starostwo (The District Office) to discuss the matter and as a result the butchers renewed the slaughter in the municipal slaughter–house. The municipality received its dues, but when it came to the special payment for the benefit of the community, the butchers continued to refuse, and the community was again left with no income source for the maintenance of the rabbis and religious artifacts.


A Committee set for electing the community's rabbi

On Sabbath's eve, May 21, 1932 a meeting was held by the community's council aiming to elect a committee that would manage the elections of the community's Rabbi. Present in this meeting was Mr. Vindish, a “referent” for Jewish Affairs of the Starostwo.

The members nominated for the committee were: Yeshayahu Finer – Chairman, Baruch Liberman – deputy; Stol, Schpritz, Rosenhak – members; Sodovitsher, Awerbach, Hazanshook, Perlmouter, Finkelstein – substitute.


Harsh Words to the community

The directorate of Rovno's community sank so low it abandoned its few clerks to starvation. They went to work every day leaving their families penniless and, in the evenings, they came back home empty handed.

The tragic–comic aspect was that in the endless meetings the community leaders fought each other supposedly taking care of the needs of all Jews, but they were unable or unwilling to take care of their own clerks.


In the Public Institutions

An association to take care of orphans

After World War One a Volhynia Center of the Association for taking care of orphans was founded in Rovno to handle the orphans of war, pogroms and epidemic victims. There were then 12.000 orphans in Volhynia, about 7.000 war and pogroms' victims who badly needed help with shelter, healing, clothing, education etc. When the after war American Support (DDK) was withdrawn, all the burden of sixty Volhynia cities with its 137 different institutions and thousands of children – fell on Volhynia's Center in Rovno.

The depleted local community had to replace the rich American donors, but with time the center was able to enlist between five to six thousand members who paid a monthly fee. The good work continued and even evolved. Although the association had some deficits, as a public institution it went out to the Jewish Street with “The Flower Day”, “The Orphans' Week” and even “Red Handkerchief” and with the pennies collected and particularly with the workers' unshaken faith, they somehow got the much–needed money.

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Ort Company

In 1925 Ort Company was founded in Rovno and its goal – occupational training of masses of Jews. Its first endeavor was opening a vocational school with two departments: tailoring for girls, whose numbers increased every year, and carpentry department for boys, which was closed for lack of students.

This company had for a while outside support temporarily, but this soon disappeared – while the subsidies from government, municipal and community's institutions were cut to minimum – and it had to support itself by enlisting friends, occasional donations and even “Commercial Deals”, like inviting famous cantors, artists, plays etc.

With modest work, without publicity and despite the Education Authorities' pressure, Ort managed to establish an appropriate building for a school, where hundreds of Rovno's youth, especially girls, received a vocational education and reached financial independence.

Some of Ort's activists were: Engineer Levitas, Anna Bernstein, L. Fisyook, I. Levin, I. Texser, engineer Kanibitch, attorney Zakon, Lieb Spielberg, Dr. Shwidky, L. Halperson.


Ten years of HIAS work in Rovno

In the beginning of 1935 Rovno's HIAS, the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, turned ten. During this decade the organization became famous in Rovno and all of Volhynia for its fair service and the efficient help it provided to the masses of Jews who knocked on immigration gates, and if it were not for HIAS these immigrants would have been the victims of many evil people looking for easy prey.

This organization existed mainly due to the support of foreign organizations, who paid 65–70 percent of its yearly budget, from the minimal payments of the immigrants and from Rovno's public donations, which usually did not play an important role in the maintenance of this society.

Until the end of 1931 the head of Rovno's HIAS Department was Rovno's entrepreneur Shlomo Kolikovitcher who dedicated a lot of his time and energy to this organization. In the last directorate there were prominent activists, amid them: S. Fisyook, Dr. S. Gorin, Dr.

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Tchernovilsky, Dr. Zimerinsky, Z. Barmnik and others. The technical management of the office was in the loyal hands of M. Holovechka, who contributed considerably to the establishment's reputation.


In Taz Company

Despite the dire financial situation of Taz Company, all efforts were made to enable poor children to enjoy the countryside, so crucial to their health. Taz company was delighted that this endeavor was successful and was happy to announce that beginning on June 19, 1932 Taz “Demi–Colony” will open on 12 Pilsodsky Street (Halpern House) where there were already about eighty children. On June 26, a full “colony” would be opened in Klevan for hundred children with a wonderful team of educators.

Taz management efforts deserves of course all the credit, but this is not enough, it needed a real support, so that it would continue to perform its necessary work for weakened children.


Old People's Home

Obviously, when it came to budgets, “Old People's Home” situation was no better than other establishments. But despite the financial difficulties the management constantly made sure the old would lack nothing. Indeed, hot and tasty meals were served every day and their other needs were being met on time and in this respect the old were not worse than those staying at the charities for children.

As for tea and sugar, some women–activists should be proud: Lea Bernstein, Ziger and Pasmenik. They had at their disposal generous women who saw it as a sacred obligation to support the old with tea and sugar week after week.

The old men and women accepted willingly and gladly the sweet generosity of the good–hearted women and showered them with blessings.


A Folks Theater by “Linat Hazedek”

Following the success of “Ararat”, the chamber–theater from Lodz, on April 1, 1932 “Linat Zedek” (Zamkova 15) inaugurated a new Jewish folk theatre.

To the opening a first–rate troupe was invited, numbering fifteen of the best actors, headed by Berta Zaslavska, the famous actress and Leon Getlikarman. The troupe brought a rich program of operettas and melodramas.


Taz General Meeting

On Sunday, January 8, 1933 a general meeting of Rovno's Taz was held in Kapilnik's home. The meeting evoked considerable interest in social circles. Many wanted to attend this meeting but entering without an invitation was difficult. Dr. Shifer, a special delegate from the main center, was sent to attend this meeting.

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The meeting opened by P. Galperson, a chairman nominated by the authorities. At the directorate table sat: Dr. Shifer, G. Wogmister, L. Halperson, B. Bramnik and Dr. Zimerinsky.

Dr. Shifer spoke in–depth about the feeding endeavor for poor children that Taz Center decided to found. G. Ridel delivered the financial report for 1931–1932 and Dr. Zeirlin, Taz, a physician in Rovno, spoke about future plans.

The debates around the table were very intense and had dramatic moments and quite a few personal insults. Participated in these discussions: Dr. Kopayka, Dr. Panitz, Dr. Nathanson, M. Litvak, D. Stock, Zibs and B. Eisenberg.

In secret elections, a new management was elected: B. Eisenberg, L. Halperson, L. Fisyook, A. Salzman, Dr. Tchernovolsky, G. Ridel, G. Wogmister, Sterntal and Dr. Rabinowitz. Candidates: I. Gelerman, Dr, Mandel, D. Stock, B. Rider, Engineer Mann. Audit Committee: I. Galpern, Pharmacist Rosencrantz, M. Litvak. Candidates: Spojinsky and B. Kromoy.


Rovno Educational News

Baccalaureate in the Mathematics Gymnasium

The baccalaureate exams in the Mathematics Gymnasium were successful due to good preparation of the students, who excelled in general in their gifts and high intelligence.

Out of twenty–one students of the twelfth grade twenty students took the exam. The gymnasium's principal, the famous Stanislav Savinsky was nominated as the chairman of the exams committee.

Nineteen passed the exams and received baccalaureate, they are: Oierbouch Asher, Gildengorn Lea, Goldstein Simcha, Gurevitz Yaakov, Wasman Ephraim, Toker Deborah, Langer Mendel, Motyuk Itzhak, Figenholtz Lisa, Fox Liana, Kagan Israel, Kowalski Witold, Rosenboym Yehoshua, Rak Bracah, Shril Gerson, Shmoter Yeshayahu, Stren Avrham–Hersh, Katzman Moshe, Stienik Shlomo.

For the next school year, the gymnasium was moved to a new location: 3 Podgora Street, Heller House.


Tarbut Regional Council

On June 4, 1932 a delegation of the regional council presented itself to the Education Minister. The delegation members were: S. Rosnhak, M. Gilrater and I. Bronstein. They presented the minister with a detailed memorandum of Volhynia's schools' organization. The question of granting privileges to the Hebrew Gymnasiums was discussed in particular.


Registration of students to Jewish Gymnasiums

Tarbut Gymnasium (3 Posta Street) announced that registration for the school year 1932–1933 for all classes would be held on August 19–30. There are also three preparation classes and a kindergarten. For the new school year, a boardinghouse was being organized for students from other locations.

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The Humanitarian Gymnasium of “Oshbiata” Company announced: Students for 1932–1933 are now accepted. The entrance exams will be held on September 1 and school begins on September 20 in the new building, 3 May Street facing Ludomirsky Garden.


In a Political Maze

The Trial of 32 Jews

On April 8, 1932 in the Rovno's Regional Court began the trial of 32 Jews accused of belonging to a party that intends to isolate certain Polish territories and annex them to the Ukrainian part of the USSR. All the accused, most of them Rovno natives, were ages 18 to 28; some of them were women. The trial lasted until April 14 and after the closing arguments of the prosecutor and the defender, a verdict was issued: 27 accused were sentenced to 4 to 7 years in prison, 5 were acquitted.


A Big Political Trial in Rovno

On May 23, 1932 a big political trial began in Rovno's Regional Court against sixty–four people, twenty of them Jews accused of belonging to an illegal party (Communist). Chairman: Talikovsky, Malishevsky, Kasevsky, Goshtensky–judges. The verdict was issued on June 6, 1932 stating that forty–nine of the accused were sentenced to 4 to 8 years of prison, twelve were acquitted, eight of them Jews.



The “Starostwo” Office (The District Office) sent to the Jewish Community a message from the Army Ministry stating that enlisted Yeshiva students did not keep themselves clean and were negligent of personal hygiene.


Social Life

Jewish Intelligentsia Society

On March 28, 1932 with M. Fisyook as Chairman and Engineer Kenivitsh, the Mayor's deputy, a founding–meeting was held in the Municipality Hall of the “Jewish Intelligentsia Society” whose goal was to enter as non–partisans to all the public and social institutions and represent the masses of non–partisan Jews. Important decisions were taken in that meeting about the Society's activities in the future.


Jewish Civilian Club

On March 23, 1932 a meeting was held in the municipality hall by an initiating committee in order to found a “Jewish Civilian Club”. A directorate was elected consisting of: M. Fisyook, Engineer Kanivitsh, the mayor's deputy, Dr. Fliashner, Gymnasium “Oshbiata” Principal, Josephsberg, the principal of the Commercial School – secretary.

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After reading the regulations and discussions it was decided to accept it. According to the decisions the club would be based on Jewish National values and its goal is to create a bridge of understanding between the Jewish and the Polish nationalism. An organizing committee was elected composed of: Dr. Flieshner, Josephberg, engineer Mann, G. Wogmiester and Galzer, and they were in–charge of obtaining the means to maintain the club. The attendees declared the membership fee, Mrs. Fisyook donated 500 goldens. A plush location was rented, with five rooms, in Efrat–House.

From a public appeal to the Jewish Public published in “Volhynian Zeitung” signed by Mr. Fisyook:

––In these days of great and harsh crisis the Jews are going through, we need to abandon the personal ambitions, the political frictions and also the class struggles and work united to alleviate life. Around this noble goal all diverse movements should come together and become one association that would truly and honestly think only about the public's wellbeing.

–––––For this purpose, a Jewish “Tent of Congregation” is being established; amongst others, its important aims would be: 1. A friendly place of meeting to discuss problems that are prominent in the Jewish Society. 2. Elect a directorate of the best public people who will represent Rovno. 3. Establish a reading–hall where books and newspapers could be obtained in Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish and where often there would be lectures about general, economic and social issues. 4. In the “Tent of Congregation” would be decided all affairs touching on elections to the City Council, the Jewish Community and other Jewish Institutions. 5. The representatives of the club would exercise their influence and intervene with the authorities in every case of discrimination, general or individual, “To save the poor from the powerful”.

–––– We believe that whomever cares about Jewish dignity would join us and support our wishes to facilitate the Jewish public's situation, both political and general.

On June 5, 1932 the festive inauguration of the “The Jewish Civilian Club” took place at Mr. Fisyook's home (11 Heller Street). By personal invitation forty to fifty people arrived. Sitting at the head of table, set in good–taste, sat the Starrostwo, Mr. Bogoslavsky and other respected Polish guests. At 9 o'clock exactly Dr. Flieshner opened the celebration with a welcoming speech, stressing that the club's goal was to educate good Jews and good citizens in the common homeland, as Jews in England and America were doing. And although Poland does not have the right conditions for such activity, one had to wish that with time such conditions would be created for harmonious life between all parts of the population. For this purpose, the club will provide a network of publicity through lectures, a library etc. In conclusion, the lecturer called out: “Long Life!” and the orchestra played the Polish and the Jewish anthems, while everybody stood up.

Mr. Bogoslavsky the Starostwo followed him, he welcomed the idea of

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the club, which indeed was missed in the city. He accepted agreeably Dr. Flieshner's words and added that the Polish population would do on its part everything for harmonious life with the Jews who have deep sentiments for the homeland and they will work hand–in–hand. Among the greeters were Shamplinsky, Zeshimzky, the inspector of the schools, Josephberg, Stock and others. The meeting was adjourned at midnight and the guests dispersed in the club's rooms for friendly chats.


The Association of Novostaw

For many years Novostaw was considered Rovno's summer capital. In order to plan the leaving to the summer–homes Z. Braker, a member of the municipality council founded “the association of Novostaw”. H. Heller, the community's director was very interested in this club and was its most active member. He was active in the association's development by reducing the train–fares, obtaining building–materials to build accommodation–rooms, paving roads etc. The associations' committee members were: H. Heller – chairman, Z. Barker and Demidovitz – deputies, Z. Feldman – treasurer, Parass (dental–technician) – secretary.


Bank Activities

General Assembly of the members of Odbudowa Bank

On March 28, 1932, the yearly general assembly of the members of Odbudowa Bank was held in its private home. The assembly was opened by H. Heller, the deputy chairman. The assembly was conducted by: S. Yankoviak – chairman, I. Frishberg – chairman's deputy, B. Bernstein – secretary. Following the directorate's and the council's reports G. Kaiserman, the accountant, read the balance of payments and H. Erlich read the Audit Committee's protocol. The report showed that since the general assembly of the previous year the deficit decreased by 80 thousand golden and was now only 30 thousand. The reports were approved by all and confidence was expressed toward the directorate and the council, who were asked to continue their tenure.

A suggestion accepted in the previous assembly was approved, to add 100 golden to each share in order to safeguard the financial health of the bank. A healing committee was elected for that purpose: Yankoviak, I. Frishberg, I. Horovitz, B. Bernstein, M. Hazantshok, S. Zimmerman, H. Gelman. The wish was expressed to vigorously collect the necessary debts to heal and strengthen the bank.


The Development of Powszechny Kasa Credit Bank

In those extremely harsh days of economic disaster, when even very old banks were being liquidated, it is amazing to watch the speedy development of the new bank, founded in 1932 on 61 Poniatovsky Street.

The new bank received more and more collections from different parts of the country and provided its clients low–rate interest loans. No wonder the bank was very crowded.

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At the Small Business Bank

Rovno's small business bank energetically collected debts from its clients by every legal mean, including foreclosure. The bank itself became entangled in grave commitments that endangered its existence and its continuation depended on successful debts collection.


Powszechny Credit Bank

Powszechny Credit Bank on 61 Poniatovsky Street was member of the audit committee in Lemberg. This bank became famous from its prominent banking activities, and had connections with Poland big banks.


Save the Popular Bank

It was a happy day for the Jews when 10–12 years ago, a group of entrepreneurs created Rovno's Popular Bank. Their purpose was to create for the Jewish masses an establishment for self–help, in order to divert them once and for all from begging and to educate them on the basis of healthy cooperatives. During the great commercial influx between 1925 to 1929 the bank grew and it was a real honor to cooperate with it, as a directorate member and as a client. But then the double crisis arrived: the economic–financial from the outside and the political from the inside and the bank was carried away to its doom by the flow of disputes and nowadays this proud Jewish establishment is completely destroyed. And if this was not enough – the echoes of the destruction were even worse than the destruction itself. The bank remained deeply in debt, including possible loss of widows and orphans' savings and there was no source to return their funds to them; there was a serious threat that bankruptcy would be declared with all its gloomy consequences. In order to avoid this the members were required – per the last general assembly – to pay 30 zlotys each to cover the deficit. The directorate could collect this sum by law but it would be better if the members would volunteer the money of their own free will. Friends, please save the bank and save yourselves!


The Long Agony of the Discount Bank

Rovno's Discount Bank was not among the living a year–and–a–half later, but it was not dead yet. The entrance still had the sign and there were daily meetings of the court's liquidator with bitter people who came to find out how to save some of their assets. A general assembly of the creditors was summoned but only nine people showed up. The liquidator debated between the law and reality, until with great difficulty he was able to assemble a liquidation directorate. The bigger the bank is, the harsher the dying and who can count the number of its victims!

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The Economic Situation

Never before were Rovno's Synagogues as populated as they were then; even the learning–tables were full to capacity. And this was a clear sign of poverty. In many homes in the city, people were busy “killing” time with cards games, chess, domino and other games. In all sort of public meetings, if there were no entrance fee – the halls were full.

These were signs of the dire situation. People were idle, they had nothing important to do so they looked for something, anything to make them forget their gloom and desperation. Many tried to divert their minds from their hunger, or just find a way to leave home where there were only worries and troubles. It has to be said that young people, idle, visit also the missions.


The end of an historic project: Jitin Sugar Plant

Rovno's talk of the day was the Jitin Sugar plant and its owners, brothers Ehrenreich, who lost everything, were in deep debt and were about to end their careers in prison. To Rovno and its surroundings, the word “Jitin” had a magical sound from an historic period, which evoked Jewish pride. This factory, considered for a long time as one of the biggest, provided employment and income for many families in the city and region, but the cruel hand of time was upon it and its owners.


Purim in the City

Purim holyday was a sad one this year. Unlike in previous years Purim balls were held only in schools for educational purposes and in Zionist organizations only for JNF benefit, no private balls were held for lack of funding. Synagogues complained about the diminished income they had this holyday.


Building Situation

For the Maccabiah and the Mizrachi–Fair that was held in Tel Aviv every year, we sent thirty people who traveled from Rovno to Eretz Yisroel. Most of the immigrants had no economic base there. They sold their belongings to pay for their trip and they intended to stay in Israel if they could; as for the young women among them, they intend to find their way to practical purposes…

[Page 279]

From the Sports' Section

Choach (Rovno)–Hasmonean (Krementz) –1:6 (2:1)

Rovno's “Choach” athletes got along well with the guests. Despite the fact that in free–kicking the Krementz team were leading in the beginning of the game 0:1 but eventually they had to capitulate to the well–trained Rovno's team. The goal makers were: M. Licht (3), Gamar, Motobilovker and Podgiesky. Rovno players who excelled were Gloz and Motobilovker.


Shomria–Morganstern– 1.0

Championship game D; The young Shomria players could not defeat the strong Morgenstern team. An unsuccessful kick caused a goal to the other side.


Hasmonean (Rovno) – Hasmonean (Lutsk) – 0:5

Rovno's Hasmonean defeated easily Lutsk Hasmonean. Rovno was winning all along the game. The goal makers: P. Feldman (20, Soffer and others.


Rovno's Hasmonean

In 1918 a few enthusiasts who parted from the “Sports Club” founded the sport club Maccabee. After a few years of brilliant activity, which deserves to be inscribed in sport history, and not only Rovno's, there was a short pause, because the authorities blocked Maccabee, which later resumed its activity under the name Hasmonean.

Especially successful was the soccer team who for some years held Volhynia's Championship and constantly won different cups with the excellent coaching of Z. Virny, but what is more important, Hasmonean won Rovno's public affection, which in the beginning was indifferent to both, sport and the team.

A large part of the success should be credited to Haim Gelman, the devoted chairman, who inspired Hasmonean with so much of his ideals for Zionism and public enterprise. Other activists in this area were: M. Torkovitz, W. Parnass and others.

A Conference of Journalists
and Writers with Moshe Setavi

by H. B. Ayalon

Translation by Naomi Gal

In 1932 a conference was held in Rovno of journalists and writers from Volhynia, cities that were under Polish Regime. In this conference participated the writer Moshe Setavi (Stavetzky) from Eretz Yisroel who during his travels in Poland visited Rovno and stayed for several weeks. He was enthusiastically welcomed by the local newspapers (“Volhynian Zeitung” and others) and delegates from other cities who came to the conference. Writer Stavi lectured to the writers and read his work to the Zionist circles.

[Page 280]

A conference of journalist and writers from Volhynia in Rovno with the writer Moshe Setavi


The meetings with Setavi were warm and hearty. His words were like a breath of fresh air from the real Land–of–Israel; as for him, he was intoxicated by the Hebrew–Zionist spirit he found in Rovno, this provincial town he remembered from before he made Aliya in the beginning of the century. The local youth approached this productive writer from Eretz Yisroel and drank in avidly his words. These were days of excitement and inspiration in Rovno.

From the Hebrew Newspapers
(see excerpts below with years and edition citations)

Translation by Naomi Gal


Rovno's Zionist activities Hamelitz 1900 C111

R”H Zinger

Not too long ago the Zionists of our city called for a meeting in order to found a Biblical School, which our city lacked, and also a special Prayer–House called “The Zionist Prayer House”.


Jealousy and its consequences

Hamelitz 1900 C216
Aaron Bayville

Something new happened in our town (Rovno) on the first day of the Hebrew year 1900. The cantor who was hired to pray during the high holydays at the synagogue committed a terrible sin: he wrapped all his body with Tallit and on his head he wore a high yarmulke like cantors do in big cities, and this caused the fury of the worshipers who feared their prayers might get confused, but they were unable to tell it to his face fearing the others' wrath, so they came up with a scheme. When the cantor went out to breath some fresh air, his yarmulke disappeared and no one knew who took it. When he came back and could not find his yarmulke he was unable to complete the prayer. The suspicion fell on the beadle and the congregation wanted to dismiss him, he begged and asked to swear on a Torah book that he was innocent. When he climbed up the stairs of the Torah Ark he fainted and the doctors had a hard time bringing him back.


Hazeman The Times –1913 C12

Yehuda S.

The branch of Hovevai Sefat–Ever association in our city was recently working with zeal. The members congregated every evening, had literary discussions and read Hebrew newspapers. Due to the branch's influence, many were learning Hebrew in our city and hence helped to improve the financial situation of the Hebrew teachers. The association planned to open Hebrew and Jewish history classes.

In T'u Be'Shevat the branch held a wonderful celebration, about three hundred people participated, including some guests from nearby cities. The hall was decorated with pictures of great Israeli writers who were painted for this festival by Mr. A. Hasin. The program was opulent: speeches, singing, music, quizzes etc.

Speeches were given by: the teachers Leib Eisenberg, Kopelman and Ribnson and followed them Grinfeld and Shindelkroit. Miss Motyook recited in a wonderful style and enthusiastically Bialik poems, and Shindelkroit – Tchernichovsky's poems. In the singing participated H. Halif, Koker and Kushner. Especially pleasing for the guests was Mr. Berger who sang Eretz Yisroel songs with a Sephardic accent. The singing of “Hatikvah” ended the party which left a great impression on the audience.


“Hazfira” issue no. 116 – June 1st, 1920

The beginning of the Polish Regime
L. Garbuz (Avatihi)

M. Kadosh came to Warsaw, sent by the Cultural Office of the Volhynia's Zionist Union to consult with culture and education activists on different matters, and he gave us these reports on the life of Jews in Rovno and its surrounding regions.

The attitude of the occupying authorities (The Poles) to the Jews is not yet set.

It is possible to lobby for the Jews to a certain extent. But on the other hand, the lower, local authorities are arbitrary, and usually they operate on some clerks' whims. For instance, they closed for a month Rovno's Jewish Community Council and locked its hall. Their reason: the community council was elected in mayhem days and it had no right to rule the Jewish Community and be its voice. These “Democratic” Authorities planned to set new elections based on community regulations from the Czar days and decrease the community's activities in maintaining synagogues and registrations of births and deaths. This “Un–Democratic” Community Rule was elected in Kransky's days based on the quintuple election, all the Jewish population participated, the line–up was: 11 Zionists, 9 Ahadut (orthodox) members, 7 non–partisans, 9 Bunds, 2 Poalai–Zion

[Page 282]

and 2 “United”. When the Bolsheviks entered Ukraine the representatives of the proletariat parties left the community because they felt that “the proletariat dictatorship regime” was not the right time for workers and bourgeoisie to sit together and since then they did not return to the community, and do not intend to do so in the future, and if new elections would be held they will not participate.

On May 20 the conference of Jewish Doctors, summoned by the Community's Council to discuss the Volhynia region's sanitary and hygienic situation, was supposed to take place but the Starosta forbade this conference. The Jewish institutions in Rovno's Region did not get any support from the authorities and all the efforts made failed. There were also delays caused by the local authorities for the preparation for the Redemption Celebration (for St. Remo's resolution) until a special delegation addressed the region's minister in Lutsk and he gave permission. The Redemption Party was successful in all the regions. There are no words to describe the enthusiasm that engulfed all classes of the Jewish Public in Volhynia (and Podol). Even the orthodox, who until recently were remote from the Zionist Movement (although they did not attack and shame it the way “Shlomai Emunay Israel” did in Poland) they all participated in Eretz Yisroel endeavor. In every city fundraisers were held for the Redemption Fund, in which all Jewish populations participated with no exception. In all the synagogues prayers of gratitude were held for this historic event. Many of the Jews intended to make Aliya.

The material situation of the Jewish population was very pitiful. All the sources of livelihood were blocked. The different armies who passed through the country made it like a bottomless pit. Recently the situation began to slightly improve, but the difficulties of transport interfered with commerce, which was most Jews' livelihood.


The Population's Attitude to Petliura

Petliura did not have a good reputation in Ukraine at all, no one supported him and no one had any hopes regarding him, the whole idea of Ukraine's freedom was not popular among most of the people. The peasants and the villages' inhabitants were oblivious to such matters, the city dwellers – were previously Russian clerks and were waiting for the day when Czarist Russia would again rule this region. Anyway, no one believed in Petliura and his armies from Ukraine and not from east Galicia and were all thieves who joined this camp only to rob and pillage. The Jews' attitude was no better, and it is understandable. The pogroms that took place under his rule ruined families and whole communities, and they will not be forgotten, and if they do not make big changes in his camp and get rid of damaging elements, there is no guarantee that the pogroms will not reoccur.. On the other hand, there was no signs of hostility toward the Jews by the Ukrainian population. So, everything depends on the government's inclinations and on its power. If this government would be indeed humanitarian and sustainable, and besides goodwill, would have the capacity to execute its wishes, there is no doubt that the relationship between the Jews and the country would be comfortable.


The attitude toward the occupying armies (The Poles)

The population saw the Polish Occupying Armies as a real force for the first time. All the different camps that wandered in the country did not leave

[Page 283]

an impression on the population, although they harassed them and caused many problems and misdeeds. Everybody felt that these were isolated acts of violence and nothing more, but they did not have real power and that they were going to leave the way they arrived. The Polish camp was different: here they saw an organized army who does what it does according to a certain system and for a certain goal, and this power they feared and hence surrendered to it. There were no attempts of rebellion, as there were in the Bolsheviks' times, or at the time of the different Hetmans and most certainly there will be none. However, it should be said that the peasants and the poor, even the Poles among them, were very scared that the aristocrats and the polish landowners would oppress them. Because these “Lords” had already returned to their estates and were serving in all the high and low positions.


Hatzfira Issue 132, 1920

In Zionism

Already in January 1920 an early Zionist Conference was held in Rovno, which accepted a whole line of decisions about the Zionist enterprise in the occupied area and it elected a temporary Central Zionist Chamber in Rovno. The main chamber contacted the world's Zionist institutions and despite the economic and inner hardships in the development of a large Zionist operation – the Central Chamber was able to organize in the whole region appropriate Zionist work. Monies were collected, pioneers' groups were assembled, the Chalutz had a conference during Passover, a net of schools, kindergartens and a few other cultural establishments were opened, a central books' storeroom was founded in Rovno, District Zionist Committees were assembled in big cities to manage the Zionist projects and they took the right steps to put everything in place. They also made contacts with Podol's cities.


“Haolam” (“The World”) issue no. 34 from June 11, 1920

Collected M. Zinovitz

In 1920 Volhynia Region was annexed to Poland and Rovno Hebrew aficionados started to promote Hebrew education. There are in Rovno: a Hebrew Gymnasium (Three preparatory classes and first grade) where there are 106 students, boys and girls, 2 kindergartens with 60 children; a boardinghouse where 60 children receive their education; an orphanage with 50 orphans; Talmud Torah with 250 boys and girls. The schools are in the spirit of modern pedagogy and Hebrew is the language used for teaching all subjects. The children also receive meals given by the “Committee for Helping Children” part of the Polish Ministerium for the people's health. For the summer the cultural office opened a playground for Rovno's children, as in other places.

Compared to the Hebrew education enterprise – the Yiddish movement in Rovno is tiny. In this city Yiddish had only two schools with around 300 students. These students were from low classes who do not care much about education, but the Yiddish establishments could not have reached even this small number if the cultural office did not have enough financial means to open new Hebrew Schools.

Rovno's education institutions are maintained mostly with the money of the United American Committee, but this aid is not enough for their upkeep.


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