Deputy Isaac Gruenbaum Assails Polish Government for Neglecting Religious and Educational Needs of T
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Deputy Isaac Gruenbaum Assails Polish Government for Neglecting Religious and Educational Needs of T

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The speech of Deputy I. Gruenbaum with regard to the religious and educational needs of Polish Jewry, delivered at the session of the Parliamentary Budget Committee of January 17, is reported in the Warsaw Yiddish daily, “Hajnt,” of Jan. 19, together with the answer to Deputy Gruenbaum made by Minister of Education Chervinski.

“For every 1,000 children of Polish nationality, naturally the whole number has a school in which Polish is the language of instruction; for every 1,000 children of German nationality, 553 have a school in their own language; for every 1,000 Ukrainian children—273; for every 1,000 Lithuanian children—41; for every 1,000 White Russian children—35. But for every 1,000 Jewish children not one has a school where Hebrew or Yiddish is the language of instruction,” said Deputy Gruenbaum. Continuing he declared:

“From these figures one can only conclude that the Ministry of Education believes that the Jews should be Polonized with the aid of the school. And as a matter of fact the government does maintain a large number of public schools where Polish is the language of instruction and which are intended for Jewish children. The number of Jewish children who visit these schools is about 230,000, that is, about 50 per cent of the whole number of Jewish children of school age. This proves that the elementary schools where Polish is the language of instruction and which are being maintained by the government, do not include all Jewish children of school age. In accordance with its policy to Polonize the Jews the Ministry should have enlarged nd broadened this school system. But practically it is different. The number of such schools is getting less, since many of them are being closed and united with other schools. During the past two years, twenty such schools were closed.


“At the same time too, Jewish teachers are being dismissed and in their place non-Jews are being employed. Jewish teachers in the public elementary schools that are provided for Jewish children total only 1,889, instead of 4,800, if we should figure one teacher for each 45 children. It is clear, therefore, that nearly 3,000 positions in the elementary schools for Jewish children are occupied by non-Jews, which deprives a part of the Jewish intelligentsia from the opportunities of a career in teaching. When we called attention to this at the last session, we were told that such a condition is entirely normal, since it is in accordance with the principle of equal rights. If the Jews demand for themselves the right to teach in the general schools, there is no reason for not allowing non-Jewish teachers in those schools provided for Jewish children.


“This principle would undoubtedly be just, if the general schools were open to Jewish teachers. As a matter of fact the principle of equal rights serves as an excuse for removing the Jewish teachers and putting in their place non-Jews, even in those schools which are provided for Jewish children. The education of children should be placed in the hands of those teachers who belong to the same nationality as the children. This is a postulate that is questioned by no one, as long as it doesn’t, of course, involve the Jews. Besides, the introduction of non-Jewish teachers in the Jewish elementary schools disorganizes them to a great extent, since it makes it impossible to conduct the regular sessions on Sunday, while on Saturday these schools are closed anyway. This results in chaos in those schools.

“But I may be answered that the Jewish children can attend the general schools. I shall not go into details here about the attitude in some of these schools towards Jewish children. I shall not cite the accusations which we get about Jewish children being beaten in those schools, about the anti-Semitic insults from the teachers, about songs like ‘Let All the Jews Croak,’ which the teachers force the Jewish children to sing.


“This condition in the elementary schools doesn’t harmonize with the idea that Jews should be Polonized and attached culturally to the Polish nation. If besides we will bear in mind that in the government high schools Jews are being taken in very limited numbers, that in the government professional schools there are only a very small number of Jews, that in the technical schools Jews are accepted upon a 12-14 percentage basis, that in the medical schools from 60 to 80 percent of Jewish applications are rejected, at a time when less than 10 percent of non-Jewish applications are rejected—when we will bear all this in mind we will have to doubt whether the government really means to Polonize the Jews and unite them culturally with the Polish people. We must conclude that the intention of the Ministry of Education with regard to Jewish schooling is entirely different.

“Here, too, I want to say that during the past school year changes were made in the attitude towards Jewish students who wish to study abroad, changes that surpass the limit of patience. No more special passes are being given to Jews who wish to go abroad to study.” (Minister Chervinski: “The Ministry is not in favor of those trips.”) “That’s exactly what I mean. Because of that Jewish young men who go abroad to study medicine can’t get special passes, and not every one of them can pay, every 3 months, 250 zlotys for his passport.

“Why is this barrier created for the Jewish students? You do not like to hear a comparison with Czarist times, but the present condition reminds one

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