Shaul Goldman
Educator, Labor Leader, Bundist, Bialystoker

Secular Yiddish Schools of Bialystok

RG 120 619 Kinder kikh 1916

Children posing in the Yugnt fareyn soup kitchen, 1916. 

Yugnt fareyn shule, graduating class, 1920-21. (Shaul Goldman is 2nd row from bottom, 5th from left.)

First graduating class of the Bialystok Yugnt fareyn school, 1920-21. Shaul Goldman is in the second row, fourth from left.

PO 197 - Bialystok, 1924 - ph. Polski, B - Outdoor group portrait of the mandolin orchestra of the I.L. Peretz school, a secular Yiddish primary school.jpg

The mandolin orchestra of the Bialystok Peretz School, 1924.

School play, Grosser shul

"The Peasant Dance" scene from a school play at the Grosser School, June 1921. 

RG 120 615 Mendele kinderheym eating

Children eating in the Mendele kinderheym (Children's home and school). c. 1925.

Letter from Yidishe gimnasiye

Letter from the administration of the Yidishe gimnasiye requesting a teacher to prepare the first class, August 23, 1927. The highly regarded Yidishe gimnasiye was the first secular Yiddish high school in Bialystok. 

“These schools strongly elevate the status of the Yiddish language…and the students, many of whom come from the poorest sectors of Jewish society, receive a quality moral education that provides them with much cultural knowledge and makes them proud to be Jewish.”

—Yudl Mark, Yiddish Pedagogue

Yugnt fareyn shul

The Yugnt fareyn shul was the first seven class folk shul in Bialystok. It was founded because of the numerous war refugees whose homes had been destroyed. There were many homeless children who need shelter and a school. The Yugnt fareyn, a group of young social activists, stepped in and first created a soup kitchen to feed poor children. They quickly realized that these same children needed both shelter and a school. These activities became part of a larger project involving the running of soup kitchens, stores with inexpensive goods, and locating housing for Jewish war refugees as well as local children whose parents had either died or who couldn't afford to care for them. 

Opened in early 1916 in the former home of Yofe’s School (which Shaul Goldman had attended as a boy) in the large home of Yeshaye Visotski on Branitska 13. In its six grades, the school educated 200 children, many of them for free.

After the war ended, the Yugnt fareyn school gradually became part of the Bund’s Tsentral yidishe shul organizatsiye, or Tsisho (Central Yiddish School Organization). During its existence, it produced 16 graduating classes, maintained a large library of over 1000 books, and an afterschool club for older students. A number of its students returned to teach at the school.

The Peretz Kinderheym

An excellent children’s home and school founded in 1916 by the Fareynikte and Left Labor Zionists. This school was a type of work cooperative that taught children basic vocational skills. The school, which taught socialist ideals through pedagogy, was also known to have a joyous atmosphere and an excellent orchestra. It closed in 1929 because it lost its lease and did not have sufficient funds to continue. 

The Grosser Shul

Founded in 1917 in the name of the deceased Bundist leader, Bronislav Grosser, the school was an outgrowth of a public kitchen for laborers. With eight grades and 300 students, there were student clubs and a large pedagogical library. 

The Mendele Shul

The Mendele Shul was founded in 1916 based on the idea that it would draw young beggars and street children from the lowest levels of society into the children’s soup kitchen and educate them. 

Unfortunately, this concept never came to fruition and the Yugnt fareygn arranged for the school to become a standard Yiddish elementary school. It maintained a children’s home for 25 children and had a total student body of 180 in seven grades. Located at Katshelna 6, the school had a children’s club and its own movie theater.

Di yidishe gimnasiye

Opened in November 1926 on Fabritshne 23, this eight grade Humanistic school taught the official Polish state curriculum in Yiddish. In addition, classes in Yiddish and Hebrew language and Jewish history were taught. The school functioned according to the pedagogical standards of the Tsisho system. Essentially a high school, one of the difficulties for schools like Di yidishe gimnasiye was that the Polish government often refused to recognize their diplomas, which made it impossible for graduates to apply to universities.

Di yidishe gimnasiye had student clubs, including one specifically connected to the YIVO. They also had a laboratory, and a library.


Tabatshinski. “Der idish-veltlekher shul-vezn in bialistok,” Bialistoker almanakh, 1931.

Eisenstein. Jewish Schools in Poland: 1919-1939, Kings Crown Press (Columbia University), 1950.