At the beginning of the 19th century, according to the Constitution, Jewish children could attend Polish parish schools. However, they more often attended cheders, i.e. religious schools. A part of Jewish youth attended gymnasia[1.1]. During World War I, in addition to the 3-grade Polish school, there was one Jewish unit and about 30 cheders. After the war, a Talmudic school was built in Ostrołęka. In the interwar period, many Jewish boys attended the Beth Josef Yeshiva, later moved to Ostrowia. Its founders included the rabbis Joel Klajnerman, Aron Anulik, Meir Segał. At the beginning of the 20th century, on the initiative of Zionist activists, Hebrew libraries were set up in many cities in Mazovia, including Ostrołęka. In 1910, Gdala Hersz Rozenblum and other inhabitants of Ostrołęka were arrested for managing an illegal library. Holdings of the library comprised 355 volumes. There were drama societies in the library. At the beginning of the 20th century, an amateur theatre was very active[1.2]. Its pioneers in Ostrołęka were, among others, Awigor Melina, Wejwel Bajuk, Aron and Fajga Zysman. Their first activities included monologues, one-act plays and sketch comedies. The Hashomer Hatzair amateur society staged more ambitions plays: A hero in chains after Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables or For our faith after the play of Shalom Asch. There were also craftsmen’s amateur societies, which specialized in staging religious plays on Jewish holidays - Purim and Sukkot. The most renowned figure of the Ostrołęka theatre was Meir Margules, who emigrated to Israel in 1922 as a He-Halutz member. Before, being a young boy, he had debuted in an amateur theatrical society in Ostrołęka. After his departure to Israel, he became a leading figure of the Ohel theatre in Tel-Aviv. In 1964, he was granted the Israel Prize, the highest state award for merits for the development of the Israeli theatre[1.3]. Another well-known figure connected with the city was Icchak Iwri, born in Ostrołęka and later residing in Łomża[1.4]. He was a person of merit for the literary and artistic life of Israel. He published a collection of poems about the war entitled Between Blood and Blood, which was recognized by Israeli and world critics. He was also an author of lyrics of the songs broadcast on the Voice of Israel radio. As early as in the 20s of the 20th century, Mark Rakowski, a writer and a translator living in Ostrołęka, became famous. In 1956, he returned to Poland from the Soviet Union. He was a member of the Polish Writers’ Union.
Translated by LIDEX
- [1.1] J. Gołota, “Z dziejów społeczności żydowskiej w Ostrołęce na tle innych miast mazowieckich”, [in:] Ostrołęka na tle innych miast mazowieckich w XIX i XX w., Ostrołęckie Towarzystwo Naukowe im. Adama Chętnika, Ostrołęka 1998, page 95
- [1.2] Szczepański J., Społeczność żydowska Mazowsza w XIX - XX wieku, Wyższa Szkoła Humanistyczna w Pułtusku, 2005, page 352
- [1.3] Ibid., page 353
- [1.4] Księga Żydów ostrołęckich, Icchak Iwri, Jewish edition ed., Załman (Zenek) Drezner, Janusz Gołota, Artur Wołosz, Polish edition eds., translated by Jehuda Chmiel, Z. Drezner, J. Gołota, Jerzy Kijowski, Jadwiga Nowicka, footnotes by Z. Drezner, A. Wołosz, Ostrołęka-Tel Aviv 2002, page 300