We Remember the Hebrew Gymnasium of Bialystok!

Yaacov Samid

The Author Yaacov Samid

The author of this book, Yaacov Samid, graduated from the Hebrew Gymnasium in Bialystok (Poland) in 1929. After receiving his M.Sc. diploma, in 1935 he emigrated to Eretz Israel. In 1990 he organized a school reunion and brought together the dispersed graduates of the Hebrew Gymnasium in Bialystok. Hundreds of surviving alumni from Israel, the United States, Europe, Africa, Australia and the Soviet Union gathered in Tel Aviv in a moving ceremony. In 1992 Yaacov Samid published the Hebrew edition of this book, now followed by its English version.

The book proves that the Nazi could destroy the walls of this Jewish school, but could not demolish its immortal spirit!

The Bialystock Hebrew Gymnasium

It was a daring Zionist enterprise: setting up a Jewish high school where Hebrew is the language of course. All subjects, all matters, taught and discussed strictly in Hebrew. It turned out to be a foundry where Jewish pioneers were cast, and inspired to abandon civilized Europe and take up the wilderness of Eretz Israel. The halloed school was short lived. In 1939 it was destroyed by the invading Germans. Yet, during its 20 years of existence it kindled a Zionist Jewish spirit, that became immortal. More than 50 years after its physical destruction, graduate Ya'acov Samid raised the flag of reunion. In 1990 they came; the surviving students and some teachers: Gathered from all corners of the world to meet in Tel-Aviv and pay tribute to the glow of the immortal spirit which shaped their lives. A couple of years later, Ya'acov Samid -- responding to his pleading friends -- has compiled a book: "The Immortal Spirit". Both the video from the Tel-Aviv gathering, and the book (available in Hebrew and in English), are now offered on this site: http://www.bialystokgymnasium.org/

This site is presenting the Commemorating Books and Video/DVD of the Hebrew Gymnasium in Bialystok, Poland; Destroyed by the Nazis, immortalized in the hearts of its teachers and students.

Quotes from Letters Written to the Author

Chaim Herzog, former President of Israel

I am glad that the Gymnasium has been documented so that this historic accomplishment can be passed on to following generations...

Yitzhak Shamir, former Prime Minister of Israel.

The book is written and organized in excellent taste with regard to its content and its deluxe format. The Gymnasium was fortunate to have an energetic, enterprising and skilful graduate who undertook this important task of documenting its history.

Dr. Ephraim Wapinsky

The book serves as an outlet of heart-felt emotions and love which engulfed the students of this school, dedicated to Tora, science and the love of Israel - the nation and the country. The reward of this honorable/memorable (?) achievement is kept in the hearts of all those who now enjoy the great and tiring effort that was invested in putting the book together.

Dr. M. Bayliss

I have read the book with great deliberation, and poetic heart beats. You have hand crafted a well-put, splendid object -- content and style. What an excellent taste... You have succeeded in recreating the sense of continuity and growth of this glorious institution. You deserve much praise for your initiative and your editorial judgment for this anniversary volume. It immortalizes a magnificent chapter in the annals of the dreamers and the warriors of our national resurrection.

Zila Spitalni

This was an arduous and rigorous work to publish this book -- superb in style, outstanding in content. It is due to your perseverance, determination and commitment to the self-assumed mission that we now enjoy this distinguished product. Thank you very much!

Dr. Henry London - USA

There is no doubt that this book is a most suitable monument to Bialystok and to one of its finest educational institutions, and we of the Bialystok Gymnasium owe you our sincere gratitude.

Quotes from the Press

Ha'aretz

This book is the story of an era told through the chronology of an educational institution teaching in Hebrew and producing a generation of Zionist leaders.

Davar

This book is rich in content and elegant in appearance. It amounts to a magnificent historic certificate exalting an institution steep in humanistic spirit and Hebrew substance, so deserving of its title: "The Crown Jewel of Hebrew Education in Poland." This book is a labor of love of Yaacov Samid. It details the impressive growth of the educational activity within the school. It emphasizes important events in every one of its twenty years.

The animated spirit of the Hebrew Gymnasium is alive within the pages of this book, now joining the list of volumes which together create and safe-keep our national memory.

Niv Hagimlai

A beauty of a book. This volume is produced in a large album-format. Excellent editorial work. It is evident that a great deal of thought and labor was invested in this. Every page brings up a scent of memories, a touch of humor, the lore of friendship between teachers and students -- readiness to pitch in for others.

Bialystoker Stimme - NY, USA

It was a colossal endeavor, requiring obstinacy and energy, to compile material about an institution which has not been in existence for more than 50 years - an institution which was rightfully considered one of the pearls of Hebrew education in Poland. Its archives have been destroyed. The greater percentage of the graduates and teachers were no longer alive. It required a great deal of research and library work. The result of this monumental task is a beautiful book, impressively bound. Acknowledgments must be essential to Yaacov Samid for his initiative and exhausting labor, without which this book would surely never have seen the light of day.

The momentous occasion of the reunion that took place in Tel-Aviv, May 1990, was documented by a professional TV team, and is available on Video and DVD format. For more details pls. go to: http://www.bialystokgymnasium.org/

Preface

Yaacov Samid

5

A Word from Max Ratner for the Hebrew Edition

 

7

Bialystok-The Jewish City

 

9

Personalities from the Past

Yitzhak Dzivak

14

History of the Hebrew Gymnasium and its Founders

 

17

 

The Founders

 

19

 

Menachem Mendel Kaplan

Yona Kaplan

20

 

Dr. Moshe Katznelson

Dr. Zeev Negbi (Wlodia Katznelson)

21

 

Dr. Moshe Zieman

Dr. Tuvia Zitron

22

 

Lipa Patt

Dov Aharoni

23

 

Eliezer Kahana

M. Shmuel Pleban

24

Annals of the Gymnasium

The Years 1919-1921 ("Bet Ha'am": The Building at 74, Senkiewitz Street)

27

The Year 1922 (Gymnasium Permit from the Authorities: The Building at Brokowa Street)

33

The Year 1923 (The Magazine "Anachnu"; Visits by Bialik and Sokolov; Lag B'omer celebrations)

37

The Years 1924-1925 ("The Jubilee Gazette") 

44

The Year 1926 (The First Graduation Class) 

54

The Year 1927 (The Building at 79, Senkiewitz Street) 

57

The Year 1928 (Tchernichovski's Visit) 

60

The Year 1929 ("Kolenu" Magazine No.1) 

63

The Year 1930 (Bialik's Visit; Self-Help; The JNF) 

69

The Year 1931 (("Kolenu" Magazine) 

75

The Year 1932 (The Gymnasium Receives State Rights) 

84

The Year 1933 (The Departure of Principal Dr. Zvi Zemel; The First National Teachers Conference)

90

The Years l934-1935 (The Laboratories; Playing Pranks on Teachers)

95

The Year 1936 (Pre-Military Training) 

105

The Years 1937-1938 (Cin the Gymnaium Structure) 

114

The Year 1939 (The Last Graduate Year; The "Le'An" Magazine)

122

Principals of the Gymnasium and its Graduation Classes 

131

 

Eliezer Furman (Karari); Dr. Chaim Zweigel (Zalzali, Sarig); Dr. Eliyahu Rosenbaum (Maroz); Dr. D. Rozenman; David Braver; Dr. Zvi Lilien; Dr. Zvi Zemel; David Rakowitzki (Rakavi)

 

The Twentieth Anniversary Book Which Was Never Published

135

 

Naomi Nof's Article

137

 

Yaacov Samid's Essay

138

Under Soviet Rule (1939-1941)

 

141

 

Description of the Period

143

 

Rachel Kalisher's Article

144

The Holocaust (1941-1943)

 

147

 

Description of the Period

149

 

Hadassah Shprung- Levkowitz's Essay

152

 

Chaike Grossman's Essay "Beyond Space, Beyond Time"

155

Reflections and Memories

 

Naomi Nof (Goldman)

161

 

Frieda Polatsek (Friedman)

162

 

Prof. M. Mishkinski "A Visit to Bialystok After 50 Years"

163

 

Dr. Yeshayahu Ostridan "My Teachers"

164

 

Dr. Moshe Bayliss (Bialystotzki) "Hebrew Education in Poland Between the Two World Wars"

168

 

Dr. Ephraim Wapinski

169

 

Yaacov Samid "My Study Years"

171

 

Chaim Shafir (Reif) "A Branch of Eretz Israel on Polish Soil"

173

 

Dr. Baruch Kaplan "My Hope"

175

 

Adv. Dan Poczebutzki "Fascinating Lessons"

176

 

Alexander Ekar (Sitsh)

178

 

Gedalyahu Marmor

179

 

Shlomo Patt "An Incident"

180

 

Mordechai Szczupak "From the Bialystok Gymnasium to the Haifa Technion"

181

 

Shifra Gotlieb (Atlasowitz) "Encounters"

182

 

Eliezer Avinoam (Lipkind)

183

 

Eliezer Sobotnik

184

 

L. Epstein "Longings"

184

 

Mina Braun (Gelerstein)

185

 

Dina Freedman (Bramson) "The Hebrew Gymnasium"

186

 

Chava Sneh (Goldberg) "The Gymnasium Secretariat"

187

 In Memoriam:

 

Principal Dr. Zvi Zemel by Noami Nof

191

 

Teacher Moshe Adler by Pinchas Adler

192

 

Dr. Shimon Dattner (1902-1989) by the Author

192

 

Teacher Franca Horowitz by the Author

193

 

Teacher Pnina Berstein by Shimon Dattner

194

 

Mordechai Samid (Semiatitzki) by Pnina Samid

195

 

Dov Shuval by Shosh Ruti Katz

196

 

Shmuel Shamir (Lapshin) by Engineer A. Shamir

196

 

Professor Menachem Stern z"l by Prof. Aharon Oppenheimer

197

 

Mordechai Laznik by Arie Laznik

197

 

Abraham Kaplanski by Rachel Kalisher (Kaplanski)

198

 

Hillel Aldag (Oldak) by the Author

198

 

Yitzhak Gorfin by Baruch Avidor-Wieder

199

 

Chaya Rothstein (Efron) by Nira Harel

200

The Hebrew Gymnasium 50th Anniversary Reunion:

 

Description of the Reunion

203

 

The Mekama of Moshe Elkoni (Olkinitzki)

203

The Hebrew Gymnasium 70th Anniversary Reunion:

 

Description of the Reunion

207

 

Greetings from Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir

211

 

The Mekama of Zvi Bodanowski "Seventy Years Later..."

213

 

Gymnasium Plaque

214

 

Poem by Max Ratner "My Native Land"

215

Epilogue:

 

Dikla Golomb

216

Quotes from Readers of the Hebrew Edition

217


Twelfth Graduation Class 1937

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Last Updated September 15th, 2004