Jewish School

Here was the Secondary School No. 2 in Sokołów - the Polish Folk School for Jewish Children.

Moshe Zając recalled: "School number 1 was for Christian children. The curriculum of both schools did not differ in any way. School number 2 was, however, open on Sundays, and not on the Sabbath. Polish patriotic attitudes were not any weaker in the Jewish school than in non-Jewish one. It was thanks to the teachers who were completely assimilated and did not want to even hear about Jewish problems. The headmaster [Icko] Trumper, teachers [men] Grinberg, Gompl, Wachsberg, teachers [women] Steinerówna, Malewonczyk were staunch assimilationists. Trumper, Gompl and Wachsberg had leftist views and were opposed to Zionism. They had a great influence especially in the upper classes in the school. The school was the first to guarantee a general normal education.

The children at school felt very well, despite the strict headmaster who often pulled the students by the ears. The children liked their own school very much, a school for Jewish children only. Its great importance became even more apparent when the school was shut down a few years before the war. Jewish children had to learn alongside Christian ones. Oftentimes they returned home crying because of insults  or even beaten up by their Christian colleagues. Anti-Semitism directed against Jewish children was as strong as the one directed  against their parents.

I remember the Polish patriotic celebrations on May 1 or the special celebrations that took place in Sokołów on the occasion of the unveiling of the statue of Father Brzóska (a Polish patriot, hanged by the tsarist authorities after the uprising in 1863). There were no Jewish celebrations at school, but Jewish children took part in Polish ones en masse. All school children came to the unveiling of the monument. But the town officials did not even look at us and didn’t give us a special place. When the Christian children were brought to the church for the solemn mass, the teachers of the Jewish school saw fit to bring the Jewish children there and lined them up in rows in the square in front of the church. There, we heard the well-known shouts: "Jews to Palestine," and Christian children spat on us.

After the whole ceremony, when the peasant orchestra had stopped playing and all the Christian children and other institutions started to leave, only then did we go to the monument and lay a large wreath on behalf of our school. Even today I feel the taste of insults to which our assimilated teachers did not react.

Despite this, I think of them warmly, because they were the first to give us a taste of secular education and further learning."

We would not know this story if it were not for the translation from Yiddish into Polish of the Sokołów Memorial Book. In September, we will publish the first part of this book on the Internet for free. This is a very important and necessary project that you can support here https://pomagam.pl/sokolowpodlaski Without your support, we will be unable to translate the next parts and we will not know other stories like this one.

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