From Kheyder to Talmud Torah

Until he was 10 years old, Morris Hollender attended kheyder (Jewish religious primary school) in Upper Remety.  Here he received his foundation in Hebrew and learned the basic prayers in the Jewish liturgy.  Later, he moved on to secondary Jewish studies at the Talmud Torah in Beregszasz.

“We had a shtibl (homespun synagogue) in our village – the sides of the building were open, so everyone could our melodies.  The Gypsies who lived on our farm would learn Jewish melodies from hearing us when we davened (prayed) – that way they knew what to play at our simkhes (parties)…Even the mailman knew the melodies.  It would take him all day to deliver mail in all of the little villages, so sometimes he would show up at shul on Friday night with our mail – he knew that we’d all be there, so he’d give us our letters during the service!   He’d sing along on a prayer or two and then go on his way…

“There was a Talmud Torah where four teachers had their classes, and my teacher was Reb Yankl Ankerman from Koblish.  He was very strict without beating up anybody.  He would say to students ‘Your father is working hard.  He pays the tuition so that you can study Torah, and you are not spending the time studying properly.  This is a shame.’  His punishment was always psychological.  Sometimes, I would have preferred a beating from him.”

“Reb Yankl was a poor man, and he couldn’t afford to buy his own wine, so between Purim and Yom Kippur, he made his own wine from raisins.  Even as he was teaching us and asking us to translate from Hebrew to Yiddish, all the time he was soaking the raisins and getting them ready to make his own wine for peysekh (Passover).”

“When Jews went for business to Beregszasz early in the morning, especially in the winter time, they wanted to have a minyan before they arrived in Beregszasz.  People would come through the compartments asking “Who is a Jew?” Even the conductor was helping out – ‘Who is a Jew here?  There is a minyan…’ “

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