KONOTOP Jews Past and Present


The Jewish elementary education (literacy and knowledge of the Tanakh) was within everybody’s reach. There were four Heders in the town, where the teacher (melamed) sometimes with assistants conducted the lessons from morning until evening prayer. The owner of the Heders, (Baransky, Slobodkin, Kalmanov, and Hazanov) were hard workers and desperately poor. They taught discipline, memory, and attention. One such teacher was Nahman Baransky. There were three Heders for thirteen boys, where melameds, Zalman Evselev Fainickly, Leiba Evselev Komisarov, and Kusiel Evdeev Zavadsky, taught school with certificates from the Jewish school’s committee of Nezhin. And one school where twenty-five girls were educated and were taught by petit bourgeous, Donna Goldberg.8 She had the

certificate of the private elementary teacher from the Teacher's Council of Konotop's two-class town’s college for teaching of the Jewish children. The Talmud-Torah school for fifty boys was taught by melameds: Movsha [Moishe] Leibow Koz1ovsky, having a certificate from the Nezhin Jewish College Commission; and Izrail Aron Goldenfarb – certificate of elementary private teacher from the School Board of Konotop, two-class town’s college. The next stage of education including professional education was not accessible to the majority of Jews.

The so-called industrial proletariat was insignificant. Until the revolution,9 there were workers in the factories that were owned by Jews, who hired them. In  he other factories and government services, they were not allowed to work. Businessmen and workers were in opposition to each other only in small workshops. The so-called class fight, which tried to ignite in this environment was the Party “Bund.” The class fight could not be achieved because of two reasons. First of all, the Jewish worker was interested in the stability of the factory, which because of economical weakness could suffer from any conflict, especially a strike. And secondly, in such a hostile environment, they only could hope for mutual aid and national solidarity, excluding any conflicts. Such solidarity was shown even in paradoxical situations.


8 It was atypical and advanced for Jewish communities of that era for girls to receive an

education outside of the home.

9 Great Soviet October Revolution in 1917.


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