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Section IV
The Interwar Years 1921-1939


Cultural Institutions


  David-Horodok was culturally under the influence of Lithuanian Jewry. The Haskalah [Enlightenment] movement had permeated the town in the last century through the boys who had gone to Lithuanian yeshivas and especially through the Jewish merchants of David-Horodok who encountered in their travels the new winds blowing in the larger Jewish centers. They were also the ones who felt that their businesses required their children to have a broader, more general education than that given in the cheder [19] and yeshivas.

  To that purpose, I. Shaffer, I. Lipshitz and others brought the renowned I.S. Adler to teach in David-Horodok. He introduced a new instructional system and he laid the foundation for a modern and Zionist education.

A Memory of Motl Slotzki of New York

  A very good Jew arrived in town from abroad. He was dressed aristocratically with a cape, a soft hat and a cane in hand. His handsome face was encircled by a broad black beard, and his black eyes made him look like Dr. Hertzl. That was Yashi Adler. He came from Krinki in the province of Grodno and opened a school in David-Horodok where he taught the children Hebrew in Hebrew. Instead of the old familiar children's melamid [teacher] with his whip, Adler typified the modern instructor who organized the school in the modern style—clean, neat and disciplined.


  The other teachers in town attempted to adapt to the new times, and they began to teach Hebrew in Hebrew. These included S. Laichtman, S. Zagarodski and Y. Begun who were not the most eminent of the Jewish instructors, but were teachers who felt that they had a nationalist and Zionist mission to educate a new Jewish generation. They were the carriers of Zionism in those days.
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The Teacher Shimon Laichtman and his Wife Sheine, the First "Hebrew in Hebrew" Teachers The teacher Shlomo Zagarodski

From Interviews with Bessie Davidson

  When Bessie was six and her younger sister Sophie was four, they began attending Hebrew school with their brother Bill. "We were like twin sisters, and we couldn't bear to be parted from each other. And Sophie, she was carrying on terrible. She cried and cried when I left. And my mother went to the teacher and said, ‘My little girl, she won't pull through. She misses her older sister.' So they took her, too. So we went together." There were two cheders for the grades kindergarten through first grade, and four or five cheders for grades two through four in David-Horodok. Hebrew schools did not have their own buildings; they were held in the teacher's living room, which was built to be particularly large. Bessie's school had chairs and desks for the students. About thirty children of varying ages attended. The schools were open all year, six days a week, except for 6 weeks' vacation in the summer. The students got out Friday at noon and then returned to school Sunday morning. During the six weeks in the summer, the Hebrew teachers would visit parents and make arrangements for the next year. Families paid tuition for each student.

  Bessie remembers that her school had the relatively modern viewpoint that children should not always sit at their desks and study. The children studied, but also sang (Bessie and Sophie were in the school choir) and danced, and had recess. Besides religious texts, they also read the same kind of stories about children as we do in America. They learned "reading, writing and arithmetic." Bessie even got a crush on one of her teachers, who she describes as a very handsome fellow. She was ten or twelve at the time. He escaped to Israel during the Russian Revolution, where he married and eventually died.

  Carriers of Zionism, the teachers taught exclusively in Hebrew to prepare students for emigration to Israel. (Hear her telling it. 300KB) In kindergarten, Bessie learned the Hebrew alphabet. In the first and second grades, she learned words, and in the third grade, how to read. A lot of what she read were poems, especially those of the Hebrew poet Chaim Bialik. Since only Hebrew was spoken in her school, she became quite fluent. The students even read translations of Tolstoy in Hebrew. "I used to read the Haftorah very well." But the Hebrew Bessie learned is not the same as that used today. "Everything is different: the pronunciation, the grammar. I don't understand it now." Because of the school's orientation, Bessie had to teach herself how to read Yiddish.

  "The boys studied the Talmud, but the girls, they wouldn't let you study. We could only study chumash[20] and tanakh[21]. But Sophie and I used to sit and listen to the boys read the Gemara [22] because we liked to hear Aramaic.[23] The boys studied Gemara after the girls left for the day. But I loved it so much that the rabbi, he was a young rabbi, let me stay and listen. As a child, I really loved it. I always wanted to be educated."

  "There was a lot of homework. Every day, there was homework. But we didn't just study. We would be home at three o'clock, and then we'd take an hour to play outside or do something else. We played jacks, and jumping rope. At night, I would sit by my books and study. I used to love to study. In Europe if you stay up late, you use the kerosene in the lamps. My parents didn't like I should use so much kerosene for the lamp. But I loved it." Sophie, however, was more indifferent to school and something of an imp besides.

  "Sophie many times hid our school books from cheder because she was tired of it. She hid so she wouldn't have to go. But we shared books because they were expensive, and I had to study because I couldn't get by heart the way she could. She was very, very bright. She knew her lessons anyways, but I didn't. And we all used to go and look for them. I had a cousin Golde. She'd say, "I'm gonna' find them. I don't care, but by hook or by crook, I'm going to find them." She never did. We never found them until Sophie told us where she'd put them. They'd stay hidden a few days, but finally she would take them out, because she felt bad about me not being able to study."

  Bessie's father got up every morning and made the children breakfast before school. "My mother was always very busy with the business, and he would help us get ready to go to school." Later, the cheder took an hour break for lunch. The students brought lunch with them every day. Lunch was wrapped in newspaper, the ubiquitous packaging material of the shtetl.

  Bessie's kindergarten was on Olpenergas a few blocks from her house and near the synagogues. Her grandfather lived across the street from the school. An old man, he spent a great deal of time sitting on his front porch. At 3:00 PM when school ended each day, Bessie and Sophie would stop by the porch to say hello to him. However, he had so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he could never remember who they were. "I used to say to him, ‘Zaydele, was machst du? What are you doing?' And he would say, ‘Who are you, whose child are you. Wemes bist du?' I'd say, ‘My father's name is Dovid Shlaima.' Then he'd say, ‘Sit down, I'll talk to you a little.' Because then he knew who I am."


  The elders of David-Horodok also tried to establish a high school in town. This was eventually opened as a government school. That was the town school in the Russian language which did a good job in helping the youth get into the intermediate and higher institutions and thereby acquire a higher education.

From Interviews with Bessie Davidson

  Later at the ages of thirteen and eleven, Bessie and Sophie left Hebrew school to attend the intermediate Russian school in the town. They had to take exams to get in, for which a Jewish teacher prepared them. They only attended the Russian school for one year, however, because the fighting during the civil war got so bad that in 1920 all schools, Jewish and Russian alike, were forced to shut down. The Russian schools were closed because of the collapse of the government. The Jewish schools were simply afraid to meet.

  The girls were admitted to the Russian school not only because they passed their exams, but also because their mother Razel had "cultivated" the principal for many years. She had been bringing fish and geese for the man's family as a "present," which was her way of ensuring her children's education. "It wasn't easy for Jewish kids to go to a Russian school." Russian laws restricted Jewish enrollment in Russian secondary schools to 7% or less. Only wealthier Jewish families could attend, because they had to bear the cost of school tuition payments (required for Jews and gentiles alike), as well as the added cost of bribes needed to secure a place. "We never had a lot of educated people who spoke Russian. They went to the university at Odessa or one of the bigger cities, like Moscow. A lot of them, they could afford it. But you had to have a pass. You couldn't just go to a university without one. A Jewish person - it was very hard to go there. The ones that had money, they had a way to go in, but the ones like me, we couldn't afford to go in there. Even when we were comfortable."

  The Russian school was very strict, and expected students to work hard. The first grade was like the fourth or fifth in America. Bessie and Sophie learned geography, history, math, French and reading and writing in Russian. This time, Bessie read Tolstoy in the original Russian. Bessie says they learned quite a bit of Russian while they were there. "There were women and men teachers. There was one French teacher there; she was beautiful. I remember her face. And I still remember a few French words. The principal's father-in-law taught geography. We used to like him because he wasn't so strict like the principal. He was a little guy, but such a good nature. He used to come and show us the Russian map. We had to look up places on the map. It was huge; it covered the whole wall. Sophie was very quick. She understood things one, two, three. But she didn't care about it very much. I sat and studied all the time, because I always loved school."

  The girls wore uniforms, unlike at cheder - white blouses with long sleeves, a long black skirt and a black apron. The apron looped over the neck, covered the chest, and was buttoned in the back at the waist. The boys wore black pants and white shirts, and jackets with brass buttons. "The Russian school was open on Saturdays, but Sophie and I didn't go. None of the Jewish girls did. Although it wasn't like there was so many Jewish girls. They weren't accepted."


  After the February revolution in 1917, a Hebrew school was opened in David-Horodok under the directorship of the teacher Maniavitch. With the assistance of the teachers I. Zaldin, R. Shaffer, I. Kashtan and I. Margolin, the school was established at a very high level. The school fulfilled a double purpose: it taught the children and, at the same time, was a center for Zionist activities and Jewish national consciousness.

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Teachers of the first Tarbus school in David-Horodok, 1917 - 1918 Tarbus School in David-Horodok, Year 5678 (1917-1918)

  The Hebrew school existed until 1920. During the stormy war years when David-Horodok was passed from hand to hand, it was impossible to carry on a normal educational system. After the Polish-Bolshevik war, when normal life was restored in the town, the first concern was to set up the school. In 1924, a Hebrew Tarbus [culture] school was founded anew under the direction of R. Mishalov. There is not enough space in this book to fully detail the blessed activities of this Tarbus school in David-Horodok. It started with three classes and in time became a seven-class folk school, one of the best in Poland. Until its closing in 1940, there were eleven ceremonies, which graduated hundreds of children.

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The first teachers of the Tarbus (Culture) school in David-Horodok

  It was not easy to strengthen the Tarbus school to the point where it could stand safely on its own feet. The school did not get any subsidy from the government or the municipal agencies. The various expenses of the school proper were laid on the shoulders of the parents of the students. The teaching personnel existed only on their wages from tuition. If we remember the grave poverty that ruled the town, we can then understand the great difficulties with which the school struggled at every moment. It was a credit to the remarkable commitment of a group of concerned individuals in the town, to the loyalty of the teaching staff, and to the national consciousness of the parents.
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Laying the cornerstone for the new Tarbus school, Year 5687 (1926-27) The Council of Teachers in David-Horodok (about 1927)

Almost 100 percent of the parents sent their children to the Tarbus school despite the fact that they had to pay tuition, when at the town Polish government school they would not have had to pay a groschen. These three factors—the concerned group, the teaching staff and the parents—were responsible for the existence of a thriving Tarbus school.
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The seventh graduation class from the Tarbus School in David-Horodok Seventh class of the Tarbus school with the teacher Blumenkopf (Ben-Yosef), 1931 Tenth graduation class of the Tarbus school in David-Horodok, 1938

  The second director of the school, Avresha Olshanski, elevated the school to such a high level that it became one of the best Tarbus schools in all of Poland. After finishing the Tarbus seminar in Vilna, he became first a teacher and later the director. He devoted his entire energy and time to the school, leading it from year to year to higher and higher standards. He was the one who in 1931 founded the Bnei Yehudah [Sons of Judah] of David-Horodok, the Hebrew-speaking youth of Poland. Afterwards the movement spread to other cities and towns in Poland, but nowhere was it treated more earnestly than in David-Horodok.

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Preparation class and kindergarten students from the Tarbus school in David-Horodok. The Lag B'Omer Parade in David-Horodok, 1933

  It is worthwhile dwelling briefly on the Bnei Yehudah movement in David-Horodok. It was begun through Avresha Olshanski's initiative. He persuaded several school children that pupils of a Hebrew school who plan on aliyah to Eretz Israel ought to speak Hebrew not only in class but also at home and in the streets, among themselves, with their parents, brothers, sisters, neighbors, friends, in a word, with everybody. From a small group of children the movement spread to all the school children.

  A child who joined the Bnei Yehudah movement was obligated to speak only Hebrew at home, in the street or in a shop buying a notepad or a book. A Bnei Yehudah would always speak Hebrew to a Jewish companion. Understandably, at first it was very difficult for the parents who did not understand Hebrew, and it would often tax the patience of the parents, shopkeepers and grownups in the street. However within time they began not only to understand Hebrew but also answer in Hebrew. Christian servants in Jewish homes also began to understand and speak Hebrew. Newborn children were taught Hebrew from the beginning.

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Tarbus school's kindergarten, Year 5688 (1928) Purim celebration in the Tarbus school's kindergarten, Year 5699 (1938)

  Once David-Horodok was visited by Yosef Baratz. Before he came to town, he had heard the wonder of the "Tel-Aviv of Polesye" as David-Horodok was called because of the spoken Hebrew. He could not believe that it was really true. To demonstrate to him that it was true, they took him out into the street. When he happened to meet a child, he would address the child in Yiddish, expecting that the reply would also be in Yiddish. No matter how many children he met, everyone replied in Hebrew.

  A child who belonged to Bnei Yehudah always got a "5" (very good) for his/her grade in Hebrew class, no matter how bright she or he was otherwise.

  At first the children organized a special intelligence unit whose task it was to verify that the new members of the Bnei Yehudah were keeping to their oaths to speak Hebrew exclusively. The intelligence officer would sneak into the new member's home and lay under a bed for hours in order to ascertain whether the member was keeping his oath.

  The Tarbus school existed until the onset of World War II. When the Soviets entered David-Horodok in the end of September, instruction in the school began once again but the language was Yiddish, not Hebrew.

  An unforgettable moment occurred at the beginning of that school year. The director Avrasha Olshanski was forced, under the dictate of a Communist activist who was himself a graduate of that school, to assemble all the children. Sobbing spasmodically, he announced that the school would no longer teach Hebrew, only Yiddish. The Communist activist then gave a lecture to the effect that the children had been duped in the past. He wanted to convince them that their Hebrew language was the language of the Jewish counter-revolutionaries.

  Avresha Olshanski until then had been the devoted and faithful father of the school, but now he could no longer bear teaching there. He could not ethically tolerate the change. He and his wife, who was also a teacher, moved to Bialystok where they found employment as instructors. There in Bialystok, he, his wife and children, met their death at the hands of the Nazi murderers.

  Through the initiative of the same A. Olshanski, a course in Tanakh  was initiated. It went under the title of "Every Day a Chapter of Tanakh." This course was intended for the grown-ups of David-Horodok, and the lectures were extremely popular. The course was attended mostly by the older youth and adults. The lectures packed the large hall in the school. People who attended the lectures were from all social levels and all political persuasions, both religious and freethinkers.

  Teachers with a variety of beliefs taught the Tanakh. A rabbi would teach and give an overall religious interpretation in his lecture. A maskil [adherent of the Haskalah] would lecture, explaining the chapter by the use of new scholastic methods. There was a lecture from a member of the free atheistic circles who interpreted the Tanakh from a purely historical-cultural point of view. Each lecturer's special point of view was listened to with tolerance and patience. These lectures began in 1937 and continued until the beginning of World War II.

 In 1927 the Mizrachi [Zionist party of religious Jews] initiated a religious Yavne folkschool. This school did not exist for long, closing after only two years.


  Besides the folk schools, there existed in David-Horodok well-organized libraries. The teacher S. Zagarodski organized a library for children and school youngsters even before 1905.

  In 1917 the Zionist organizations in town founded a library which developed quite nicely. Unfortunately it was not active during World War I. Following World War I, the libraries in David-Horodok developed vigorously.

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The Directors of the Zionist Organization's Library - Year 1917
In 1925 the Po'alei Zion founded a library named for I. L. Peretz. In the last years before World War II, this was the only active library for adults in the town.

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Announcement of the 5th jubilee celebration for the I.L.Perez Library, to take place on December 2, 1930

  There was a large library for the students at the Tarbus school. Publications with Zionist and literary theme always had a wide audience.

  There were also self-education groups in the town, sponsored by the various parties and youth movements.


 David-Horodok also had a long-standing amateur drama group, which gave performances from time to time. There had long been an inclination towards theater and acting in David-Horodok. Even in the time of the 1905 revolution, such amateurs as I. Afiganden, I. Gottlieb and Helman would excel in readings from the masterpieces of Shalom Aleichem, Peretz, Bialik, Frishman, etc.

  Later a group of amateur artists was trained, and they gave two or three performances each year for the Jewish populace.

   After the 1917 Russian revolution and later, after the Russo-Polish War, the drama circle developed somewhat more. Fresh faces arrived, and the actors gave a serious performance from time to time. The proceeds of performances went to various charitable causes. At times the revenue would be divided up to support a variety of needs. In praise of the drama circle, it must be said that the amateurs had little interest in how the money was divided. They were only interested in artistic success.

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Perfomance of the The Dybbuk by the young amateurs of David-Horodok, 1938

  In 1936 another youthful amateur group was founded. They gave several successful performances. Unfortunately, the outbreak of World War II ended the activities of both drama groups.

  It should also be mentioned that the children of the Tarbus school gave a successful performance under the leadership of their teacher every year.


  David-Horodok had a sports club Hako'ah [The Strong] which developed a very good football [soccer] team. The football team competed for a couple of years, but it was disbanded after their best players made aliyah to Eretz Israel.

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The soccer team Hako'ah [The Strong or The Force] in David-Horodok in 1927.

Charitable and Religious Institutions

Memories of the Hasidim from Motl Slotzki of New York

  David-Horodok had its own dynasty of "good Jews" [euphemism for Hasidic rabbis]. This was the family of Alter Rov, Rabbi Israel Yosef who had come from Volhynia, from Korets. The street around Alter Rov's studyhouse was occupied by his sons and daughters. They lived in want, but warmed themselves under the broad but cooling rays of the bygone star of their grandfather, the Alter Rov.

  In contrast there was joy and liveliness in the Stoliner shtibel. The adherents still talk about when the Stoliner Rebbe visited. Then even the misnagdim [scholastics who were anti-Hasidic] went into their studyhouses on the side streets and stuck close to the walls in fear of receiving a smack in the neck and throat from a tipsy Stoliner Hasid. At that time the Alter Rov's Hasidim felt particularly humiliated and dejected. David-Horodok was the capital for Rov Israel Yosef just as Stolin was the capital for Rov Ahralan.

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The Synagogue of the Stoliner Hasidim

  Rov Baruchl had his own studyhouse and his own Hasidim. Rov Baruchl's Hasidim were not rich Jews. They were small shop owners and laborers, but they did not let the rabbi down. Indeed looking at the stateliness of Rov Baruchl, his beautiful long gray beard, his intelligent large deep eyes, his patriarchal Abraham-like appearance, no town would have allowed such a personage to go hungry all seven days of the week.

Rabbis and Community Leaders "The Horodoker Dynasty"

(an excerpt from an unpublished book on Hasidism by Dr. Rabinovitz)

  About the beginning of the nineteenth century an independent Hasidic dynasty was founded in David-Horodok, which is near Pinsk and even nearer to Stolin. Its adherents were known in the vicinity of Pinsk as "Horodoker Hasidim," to distinguish them from those of Rabbi Menahem Mendl of Vitesbsk who went by the same name. This was the smallest branch of the Hasidic dynasties in Polesye, and had a small circle of Hasidim in David-Horodok, Lakhva, Luninets, Pinsk and Kozanhorodok. Just as the Labashier Hasidim found their place west of Pinsk, between Pinsk and Kobrin, so did the small group of Horodoker Hasidim east of Pinsk, between Pinsk and Lakhva. The founder of the dynasty was Rov Wolf (Ginzburg), called by his Hasidim Rov Wolftsi, a son of the tzadik Rov Shmuel Halevi of Kashivke, a town in Volhynia not far from the well-known Hasidic center of Nasvizh. Rov Shmuel was a close friend of the renowned tzadik of Volhynia, Rov Mordechai of Nasvizh. This can be seen from a letter written by Rov Asher of Stolin sometime between 1802 and 1826 indicating that both tzadikim were on friendly terms and were in-laws.

  There is no information as to how Rov Wolf founded an independent dynasty in the center of the Karlin realm. The only Hasidic source that mentions Rov Wolf refers to him as Av Bet Din [head of the rabbinic court]. It is also popularly believed that Rov Wolf was first designated as a rabbi in David-Horodok, and later, probably because of his lineage, he became a rebbe [Hasidic designation of their rabbi]. Details of his personality, life, and the exact year of his death are not known. There are various popular legends regarding his death which testify to his popularity and authority. The legacy of his rabbinical seat went to his son Rov David. It appears that the son had no great influence. For example, Rov David is not mentioned in the short family biography kept by Hasidic sources.

  Subsequently, Rov David's son, Rov Israel Yosef Halevi, became a central figure in the small Hasidic branch, and he was their rebbe until the end of the nineteenth century. He was a renowned scholar and led his small congregation of Jews autocratically. Both his fellow townsmen and those from surrounding areas regarded him with great respect. In contrast to the Barazner Hasidim who were mostly common rabble, his Hasidim included many aristocrats, even some from misnagid homes [a misnagid is a rationalist who was usually antagonistic to Hasidim]. For example when he would journey to the Horodoker synagogue in Pinsk, his "table" would be visited by the then-Hashuber rebbe, Rov Motis, the community heads, cultural leaders and others. Rov Israel Yosef had personal dealings with the renowned tzadik of Volhynia, Rov Itzhak of Nasvizh. With the expression "I pray and implore that his holiness (Rov Itzhak) not forget us in the future ... so that I may rest peacefully in my house ..." he refers undoubtedly to the controversy between his Hasidim and the Stoliner Hasidim, who regarded the Horodoker Hasidim as inferior. (See below) The liturgical melodies in his Horodok synagogue, which was called "the rebbe's studyhouse," were similar to the liturgy in Volhynia.

  Rov Israel Yosef died in 1899 and a common tomb enclosed his grave along with the graves of his father and grandfather in the Horodoker cemetery. His descendants had a certain renown, such as his grandson Rov Itzhak who died in 1908. Rov Itzak's grandson Rov Aharon belonged to the last generation of the dynasty. He occupied the position of rebbe in the neighboring town of Luninets. A second grandson, the last Horodoker rebbe, Rov Moshe was a student at the yeshivas of Volozhin and Lida and a gifted preacher. He was close to the Zionist movement and was held in great esteem by all. He died a martyr at the hands of the Nazis.
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Rabbi Moshe Ginzburg from David-Horodok among the citizens of New York Leibeh Reizeleh Ginzburg, Rebbitsin

  Of the writings of the Horodoker tzadikim, nothing remains except the few letters mentioned above. The establishment of a dynasty probably resulted from choosing the son of a Hasidic tzadik as rabbi, who then became both rabbi and rebbe together. This is similar to the manner in which the Labashier dynasty was established. The small branch of Horodoker Hasidim were bound together solely by the personalities of the tzadikim Rov Wolf and Rov Israel Yosef, who enlarged the small number of Hasidim in that narrow corner of Polesye. They remained the only disciples of the Hasidic movement.

A story that appeared in Let Laughter Ring by S. F. Mendelsohn

  The Hasidim of Stolin were greatly irritated because the Hasidim of Horodok ridiculed their rebbe. The Stoliners were particularly angry at a certain Reb Zanvel who led in the barrage of contempt, and Reb Yankel Belohusky, a zealous Stoliner, vowed to take revenge on this sinner.

  Reb Yankel had never met Reb Zanvel, but he knew that the Horodoker would pass through Stolin on the way to his favorite rebbe just before Rosh Hoshana.

  When the train packed with Horodoker Hasidim arrived in Stolin, Reb Yankel Belohusky walked into a crowded car and called out: "Reb Zanvel! Reb Zanvel!" One of the passengers responded, "Reb Yid, what do you want?"

  Reb Yankel walked up to the stranger, slapped his face vigorously and ran out. Everybody burst out laughing, but the one who was slapped laughed the loudest.

  "Why are you laughing?" he was asked.

  "I am laughing at the stupid man who slapped me," said the stranger. "He does not know that he was fooled. I am not Reb Zanvel."

The Orphanage

 David-Horodok was ruined and impoverished after World War I. The "giant" [the United States], which had begun its aide activity throughout Poland, also opened a branch in David-Horodok. One of the "giant's" most important accomplishments was founding the town's orphanage in 1919.

  There were 32 orphan children up to age 14 in David-Horodok. They were placed in an orphanage situated in a comfortable dwelling with three bedrooms, a large dining room which doubled as a lecture hall, and a large courtyard where the children played a variety of games. The orphanage was well equipped with such items as comfortable beds, good bedcovers and a sufficient quantity of food and clothing. The food was good and the children were well fed and appeared healthy. The entire maintenance of this house was paid for by the "giant." The local people could be of no assistance except for supplying teachers who worked without pay.

  That was the situation until the Bolsheviks recaptured David-Horodok during the Russo-Polish War in the summer of 1920. Then there was a radical change. The management of the orphanage was transferred to a branch of the social service organization of Revkom, the Revolutionary Committee running the town. They gave much advise but little practical help. There were no food reserves in town. The children became hungry and began to scatter. When the Bolsheviks left town they "requisitioned" the entire contents of the orphanage and took it with them despite the protests of David-Horodoker Jews.

  After the Russo-Polish war ended, all efforts to re-establish the orphanage were unfortunately unsuccessful. Instead an Orphan's Committee was founded, which undertook to place the orphans in separate homes. The chief priority was to enable them to learn a trade. Through the committee's efforts, the orphans were well cared for in private homes. Money to support the work of the committee was raised by selling flowers ("flower days"), organizing special campaigns, and collecting the proceeds from performances of the drama circle. However, the main reason the committee was able to exist was the support it received from the David-Horodoker Women's Organization of Detroit. This support was achieved through Itzhak Lieb Zager who had personal family ties with America. Thanks to his concern the committee received regular support from America throughout its existence.

  The Orphans Committee existed throughout the period of Polish rule in David-Horodok. In 1939 when David-Horodok was taken over by the Soviets, the Orphans Committee was abolished, along with all other institutions.


Bank and Credit Institutions

  In David-Horodok, as in all other Jewish communities, credit was a common problem. There were always Jews who needed cash—for business purposes, for a child's wedding, to build a house, or because of misfortune. In bygone days there were the so-called usurers, (the Yiddish word is vachernik because the payment was due each week or vach) who would loan money on a pledge and for a considerable interest. Each Friday the debtor would have to bring the usurer both the principal and the interest. The usurer was usually an influential Jew with considerable authority in the community. If the principal and interest were not paid on time, he would not hesitate to keep the collateral, which might have been as much as ten times more valuable than the borrowed money. Understandably going to the usurer was a last resort when there was no other way out.

From Interviews with Bessie Davidson

  Bessie's mother Razel once borrowed money from a neighbor down the street who had a little extra cash at the time. The neighbor would drop in several times a week to examine the house and what the Eisenbergs were having for dinner. She wanted to make sure they were not squandering the money on luxuries, which would have made it difficult for them to repay her. "That old lady, Miachele was her name, had red hair; she wasn't very honest and neither was her husband. She died before we left. Her son was arrested by the police for stealing. He'd been taking things for a long time. When he was a little boy he took one of my mother's geese. After my mother borrowed the money from her, Miachele would come while we were eating dinner at noon and sit with her feet on a stool and watch us. She was afraid my mother would behave the way she would have if she had borrowed the money. But my mother was very honest. Every time Miachele left, my mother would say to me, ‘That woman is going to give me an eyn-ore [evil eye] if she doesn't stop looking at me that way.'"


  When loan and savings offices began developing in Russia, one such office opened in David-Horodok, and later a second office also. These two offices had the same purpose but had different names. Both were named after the bookkeeper—Shlomo Razman's Office and Pinye Sheinboim's Office. Many merchants had accounts in both offices. The offices enjoyed the complete faith of the populace and were entrusted with their savings. As a result the offices had enough cash for loans to those needing them.

  In 1909 the larger businessmen in David-Horodok founded a Merchants Bank under the management of Noah Grushkin. The bookkeeper was Meir Olpener. The bank developed very well.

  With the outbreak of World War I all the financial institutions failed. After World War I, when David-Horodok went over to the Poles and normal life had resumed, another Merchants Bank was formed in 1923 under the management of M. Kviatni, and a People's Bank was founded in 1924 under the management of S. Papish. These banks developed well and they were a significant factor in the economic life of the town.
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The first management and the Board of Directors of the Bank-Amamy (Popular Bank) in David-Horodok, 1933. The management and the employees of the Bank-Amamy (Popular Bank) of David-Horodok

  There was also a charity office in David-Horodok, which gave free loans to small businessmen and handicraft workers. The charity office was managed by a committee headed by I. Gottlieb. This committee would control the requests and set the amounts of the loans.


[19] Elementary Hebrew school; cheder literally means "room" in Hebrew

[20] According to The Encyclopedia of Jewish Religion, p. 194, the chumash is the Five Books of Moses or the Pentateuch; synonymous with Torah in the sense of the first division of the Hebrew Bible; a volume containing the Pentateuch, used in synagogues by the congregation in following the reading of the Law.

[21] According to The Encyclopedia of Jewish Religion, p. 376, tanakh is the usual Hebrew name for the Jewish Bible. It consists of the initial letters of the Torah, Niviim, and Ketuvim or the Pentateuch, Prophets, and the Hagiographia (Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles, and the five scrolls of Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther.)

[22] The second division of the Talmud, which contains long commentaries

[23] The language the Gemara was written in Aramaic, closely related to Hebrew

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