The Story of the Jewish Community in Woldrom

Wolbrom Before the Holocaust

Education

The Cheder

Cheder of Agudath Yisrael “Beit Yaakov” school for Orthodox girls, Wolbrom “Beit Yaakov” school for Orthodox girls, Wolbrom

“…Even the poorest people sent their children to the Cheder to give them education, although they could hardly find the money to pay tuition. I remember with sadness how children who were about ten years old would drop out because their poor parents had to take them out of the Cheder. Despite the harsh conditions in the working places, these parents were forced to have their children learn a trade so that they could earn money.

Girls learned in the Cheder in a separate class. As soon as they could read and say their prayers, they would leave and go back home to help their mothers. In the homes of the few rich or well-to-do people they would continue to study with a private tutor….We would watch these girls who did not have the privilege of studying Torah with a mixture of sympathy and scorn, but also with a certain jealousy – since they had more freedom to play outside than we did…..

We would study all day long, returning home for a long lunch, and then going back to study till evening. In wintertime, after Sukkot, we would also study at night…. Every evening many children, aged five and above, would come streaming from all corners of the town, under the dark skies, braving the strong winds, with the rain and mud adding to the winter darkness that covered the place. They would go to the square where the different Cheders were situated, dressed in warm clothes, holding lanterns with burning candles inside…..”

Nathan Chofshi in Wolbrom Irenu (Our Town Wolbrom)

The Yeshiva

"The Yeshiva was the higher grade educational institution after the Cheder. Most towns did not have a Yeshiva, and those wishing to continue their studies after the Cheder, would go to places which had a Yeshiva... In the absence of a Yeshiva in Wolbrom, the learning at the Beit Midrash, under the Melamed (teacher) Mordechai Wolf, served as a substitute to studying in a Yeshiva. Due to the great difficulty and high costs only few parents could manage to send their sons to a far away Yeshiva...

At the initiative of some of the more important Hasidim, headed by Rabbi Abraham-Yissachar Gotlieb, “Keter Tora” Yeshiva was opened in Wolbrom after Passover 1929... The Rabbi of Radomsk promised to cover 25% of the running costs. A board was established which included all the Chassidic groups in town. “Keter Tora” was one of the expansive and creative chain of no less than 33 Yeshivot in different towns in Poland, with over two thousand students… Around one hundred students learned in the Wolbrom Yeshiva.”

Sh. Barkai in Wolbrom Irenu (Our Town Wolbrom)

The Public School

A group of students with their teacher Zelda Fisch (Lubling) Public school A school field trip, 1936

“Construction of the school building began in the end of 1930. Wolbrom needed a building for its elementary school. Until that time the classrooms were scattered all over town, because no apartment could be found that could house them all. The construction proceeded quickly, and soon the school opened its doors.

The principal of the elementary school was the doctor’s wife, Fanny Maria, an old woman with white hair. Winter and summer she wore a long black dress that reached under her knees.

The school presented a problem for the town’s Jews. They were not used to have boys and girls study together. Moreover, the curriculum did not correspond to their desires, and there was a kind of unofficial boycott on the public school. The result was that private schools with Jewish principals were established. There was no compulsory schooling for Jews.

When the Orthodox Beit Yaacov School was established, the Orthodox Jews transferred the Jewish girls to that institution. With many efforts their work bore fruit, and many girls eventually studied in the Beit Yaacov School.

There was no high school in Wolbrom, and those who wanted, sent their children to private tutors or to the high school in Miechow or Olkusz. People interested in promoting education tried hard to establish a high school in town. There was a high demand, but it never came into being because of the lack of financial means. This pained the youngsters who wanted to learn.”

Sh. Barkai in Wolbrom Irenu (Our Town Wolbrom)