A letter from Sokolow

 After I posted a short film about Sokołów, Rachel wrote to me. It turned out that she has letters written to her grandmother before the war. In 1935, Matla left Sokołów for Tel Aviv. In Sokołów, a young man - Chaim (probably Chaim, because we only know the first letter of his name Ch.) Łosicki - missed her.

When I read that in his letter (written in Polish) Chaim was quoting the greatest Polish poet, Adam Mickiewicz, I couldn't hold back my tears. "...How much you are precious, he will only find out who lost you...". Polish-Jewish intellectuals loved Polish culture, but this culture - as we know - rejected them.

I thought that maybe it is worth asking if you have old letters from Sokołów in your archives? Or to Sokołów? In Polish or in Yiddish. I will be grateful if you would like to share them with me. Or maybe you know what happenned to Chaim Łosicki? 

Thank you very much!


Your support needed

Soon I will publish the first part of the translation from Yiddish into Polish of the Sokołów Podlaski Memorial Book. Since there is no monument dedicated to Jewish inhabitants in the town, this translation is a kind of virtual monument. Thanks to this, young people in Sokołów schools and adults can learn something about the history that they will not learn at school or from the town authorities.

In order to be able to translate the second part of this Book next year, we need your help. Therefore, each person who pays PLN 500 or more for this project (this money will be paid entirely to the person who translates the text into Polish; I cover the rest of the costs of this project myself and I work on it for free) will receive from me by e-mail a high-resolution (10349 x 6510 pixels) Sokołów map from 1925 in jpg format. As the fundraising site https://pomagam.pl/sokolowpodlaski does not provide me with your e-mail addresses, please contact me after making the payment so that I can send you a map. 

Thank you!


We are all Sokolowers

 This year we didn't organize a ceremony in Sokolow but instead we organized a virtual ceremony on zoom. We are all Sokolowers - in Poland, Israel, US and even in Wien 🙂

Thank you all for being here today!

And watch a video about Jewish history of Sokolow! 



Aron-Jakow Grinberg

 Did you know that Aron-Jakow Grinberg, who was born in Sokołów in 1900, was the deputy speaker of the Knesset in 1955-1963?

In Sokołów, he founded the Mizrachi-cheder (he was a teacher) at Niecała Street in the house of Alter Bekerman and was active in the Zionist organization.


Support discovering the Jewish history of Sokołów: https://pomagam.pl/sokolowpodlaski


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.