Elyahu Mote Bukshtein




In general in all towns of " Lite " (TN: Jewish populations whose culture and traditions originated under Great Dukedom of Lithuania, and successively belonged to Lithuania, Russia, Poland and now Belarus). Jewish education was received in "chadarim" and in "yeshives ".


When a boy was 4 year-old he was given to the Cheder.  The assistant of the "melamed" (TN Jewish teacher) sometimes brought him to Cheder.  His mother accompanied him first time, and an angel threw him a coin ("kopike"), so that he is always a good student worthy of receiving gifts. Until  year 1905 were different categories of religious teachers: those that taught  "aleph-bet" (TN: alphabet),  blessings and prayers, while others taught Pentateuch commented by " RASHI " (TN: French studious man  of  XI century) and " Gemara " (post biblical treatise of Jewish rules).


Learning year was divided in two periods: from "Pesach" until Rosh Hashanah, and from "Sucot" (TN "cabins" festivity) until Pesach. After  first period when the boy knew something of Hebrew, passed to another religious teacher that thought him Pentateuch with RASHI comments. During  childhood the boy that studied during four periods, passed to study " Gemara " with the religious teacher YOSL ULINOVER or  sent to a Yeshive to another city, as for example Malch.


Wealthy children studied "Gemara" with the teacher AIZIK the judge. The girls didn't study. Daughters of wealthy homes studied some writing with the teacher ARKE . I remember that there was in town some teachers that taught Hebrew grammar, and some Yiddish writing and reading. Children of wealthy families studied with teacher AIZIK MOLODOVSKY (poet KADIA MOLODOVSKY's father ); he taught grammar and Jewish history according to the method of courses (first, second, third, etc.).


There was in town a study house (Talmud Torah). Went there poor children, who were taught  prayers and Pentateuch. Religious teachers used a stick to stimulate  students. In year 1908 appeared in Bereza a graduate teacher dressed with clothes adorned with "golden bellboys". His name was GUERASHOV. He opened a school that had three degrees and that taught Russian. There, boys studied up to 12 o'clock a. m. and girls starting from 1 p.m. He accepted children that already knew Russian alphabet. The cycle was of three years and Saturdays was not a learning day.


For this reason out brake a protest in town. Was said that this school converted Jewish children in gentiles, since they studied with "discovered head", but in spite of this, many children went to this school. Other children continued outside the frame of state high school, and they were called  "externals". In year 1910 arrived to our town teacher VAINSTHEIN and together with  his wife opened a school for adolescent girls, whom taught manual works. SHLOIME GANDZ gave  particular classes of Yiddish and Russian.


During WWI German conquest, and until war ended and outbreak communist revolution, were closed all "chadarim" and schools. SHIKE BERMAN, TEMTSHE ROZANSKY, ELIE MOTE BOKSHTEIN and ZEIDEL FAIKOV opened a kindergarten in the place where school of GUERASHOV was. Teachers BEILTSHE BERMAN, CHANE BILTSHIK, REIZEL GOLDMAN and FEIGL PERLOVITSH, former students of state high school, taught Russian and Yiddish, as volunteers, without being paid. The organization formed a choir ,besides the library and the reading room. Income they obtained in choir shows, was distributed by equal parts to the library and the kindergarten.


Then were invited teachers YOINE REZNIK, ROCHE KAMENIETZKY and another "Morá" (feminine teacher) of Brest as paid teachers; the kindergarten become a school. In year 1919, under Polish régime, Joint and those  from Bereza settled in US, helped to maintain the school. The support offered benefits to most of  Jewish population and in particular to children. They received breakfast and lunch in school. The Joint also covered teachers salary.


In Bereza there were two public baths. During  German conquest one of them became a stable.  The Assistance Council that distributed American help, decided to rehabilitate bath's building to install the school there. Was possible thanks to the help of  Joint. Five classrooms were added for the School, and other two for the Talmud Torah that had lost its building after the fires of the "Batei Midrashim". In Yiddish school, Polish and Hebrew was taught according to the methodology of those days.


In year 1922 was founded the Hebrew school. Zionist brought teachers, and they taught Hebrew in private classes. When quantity of students increased , Zionist required a building dedicated only to Hebrew school. Since the Talmud Torah was transferred to a building donated by MERE YACHES, they were two classrooms free. First were requested by Yiddish school and then by Hebrew school. They arrived to an agreement according to  which  Yiddish school received one classroom and Hebrew school a classroom and a half.


The activists of Yiddish school SHLOIMKE VAINSHTEIN, GOTL PISETZKY, MEIR FODOSTRIVITZE, NISL ZAKHEIM who were members of Bund, and NAFTALY LEVINSON, ELIAHU MOTE BOKSHTEIN, YE'HOSHUA KAPLEN, NIOME SHAPIRA, IECHIEL SOLNITZ who were leftist, decided to include the school in the Yiddish education net.. In the house next to the school was formed a theater group that prepared shows, and it's revenues covered part of school budget. A children and adults choir  was also organized, under the direction of LEIBL KAPLAN. The theater group and the choir  had shows of great success.


The Hebrew school developed, and was included in Education Institutions net of "Tarbut" institution. Short time later, the institution grew and had activities in two different buildings. This hindered the task of students. The activists of the school YEHOSHUA ZALTZMAN, HENACH LISKOVKSY, MOISHE GOLDSHTEIN, FAIVEL YAVER and others decided to lift an own building. They acquired a land in "Gmine" St. and in year 1934 was built a beautiful building and a conference room. Youth was organized in different movements, as Ha'shomer Ha'tzair and Betar.


When day classes concluded   youth  met around Hebrew and Yiddish schools. The shows and  artistic nights that they organized were surprising, This helped to increase  economic funds of Jews in the town, and leveled up culture. The teachers of both school attended both presentations. Some parents sent boys  to  Hebrew school and girls to Yiddish school. The life passed this way in the town until the Holocaust, and one astonishing and symbolic thing happened: only two buildings of all  buildings of the town survived not touched, , and these were those of  Hebrew and Yiddish schools, that were not damaged. The buildings were intact, but... empty