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baby pisetskaya

Jankiel Kulawiec

I was a fairly lively lad. I remember he had a small field, and he put us to work picking cabbages. And I had it in me to tell him that I'd come to learn, and not to pick cabbages! I was six years old, but I'd already heard that type of left-wing talk at home from my parents. I was already that bright! And he says to me that I'd remember it. And when it was time to go home, he let all the others go and kept me behind. Pulled my trousers down and beat me so badly with that whip that I could hardly get home. When Mama saw it, she asked what had happened. And when I told her, Father went to the teacher and read him the Riot Act. From that time on I didn't go to cheder.
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When I was six my granddad took me to cheder. I remember that the rebe guy - the teacher - [melamed] was a tall, red-haired Jew, with this red beard, terribly nasty. The lessons were held in his house; he lived upstairs, I think, in this two-story wooden house. He had a long wooden table and he sat by a window that faced east. And on both sides of him in a row, were the kids. There were over a dozen of us there, all boys. [Editor's note: girls were typically educated at home by the mother or by a melamed, or (after the 1920s) in schools, but separately from boys.]

We mostly learned to pray. And on the corner of the table hung the whip, this leather whip with a dozen or so leather thongs. And he would talk, and if he didn't like something, then smack! Over your hands. 'You're to hold your pencil like this, not like that! You're to turn your piece of paper over like this, not like that! You're to read like this!' And so on. Incredible discipline. And I didn't like it.
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Granddad went to synagogue every week too, and he packed me off to cheder when I turned six. I don't remember much more, because they died when I was eight or nine.
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Rafael Genis

I went to school at the age of seven. The school was combined with cheder in our town. It was located near a large synagogue. We were taught prayers and compulsory subjects. I didn't enjoy studying at the school because our teachers were very strict. We were taught by two men - Balek and Shreder - who were focused on discipline and at times used a metal ruler. I was a good student, especially in Math.
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My father, Yankle Genis, was born in 1888. He only finished cheder and a Jewish elementary school, but he was literate. He knew how to read, speak and write Yiddish, Russian and Lithuanian. Before I was born, Father served in the army. He was a lancer. He was drafted for prequalification. Since his childhood my father helped Grandpa and also became a butcher. There was a butcher's at our place. Father made kosher meat for Jews; he removed all tendons and vessels. Rich Jews ordered meat and he sent me to them to deliver it. Father cut the meat and sold the rest of it to the Lithuanians, including sausages.
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rena michalowska

My father could write and read in Yiddish, so he must have gone to cheder as a child. He was circumcised and most likely he had bar mitzvah. I'm sure he also went to a Polish school. In addition to that, he studied at the teachers' seminar in Stanislawow. He was an extramural student, commuting to some classes and taking exams. I think it was a Polish school because it gave him teaching qualifications. What kind? I can't say. Maybe general?
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Isroel Lempertas

Now, I would like to get the information on my lineage, but there is nobody I can ask about it. As far as I know my maternal kin was born in Mazeikiai. I remember my maternal grandfather Faivush Levinson. I reckon he was born in 1860s. Grandfather was melamed in cheder. As I was later told by his students he was a very advanced person and a teacher. He gave not only traditional knowledge in cheder, but he also tried to tell more about nature, birds and flowers, read unreligious books of modern authors. As far as I know, grandfather Faivush Levinson was not truly religious man. I do not recall him in kippah or with a hat on. Judging from the pictures, his head never was covered.
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Dina Kuremaa

My father, Ezekiel Neimark, is from Poland. He was born in 1889 in a small town called Koden [170 km from Warsaw]. I know that my father's birthday was always marked in March. I know nothing about Father's family. All my father's kin remained in Poland and I never saw them. Father said that his family was very religious. They strictly observed traditions and lead a Jewish way of life. Father went to cheder. Besides, he obtained education in a Jewish elementary school. He finished four or five grades, I don't remember for sure. My father's mother tongue was Yiddish.
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Amalia Laufer

My grandparents hired a teacher from cheder for their children to teach them to read and write.
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