Zareby Koscliene

by Khayim David Apal (Buenos Aires)

One sunny Sabbath afternoon in 1917, a group of young men and women from Zaromb gathered in the Leshner forest and decided to establish a library.

Later a youth organization was formed in connection with the library and we also organized a reading room. The official opening was in 1918 and it was the first cultural celebration of the youth of Zaromb.

The hall was filled.  Everything was ready.  Yosef  Grinshpan stood on the dais ready to announce the beginning of festivities when there was a sudden shout,  "Fire!"  The crowd began running to the door, but very soon they caught on that there was no fire - only the strict Sabbath observers trying to disrupt the secular holiday of the young people.

Some older Jews attacked the hall and we were truly surprised at how belligerent they were and how ready they were for a fight.  We barricaded the entrance and forced back the attack.

For us, the library was a second home, a spiritual smithy where new ideas could be forged.  The various party groups came to us with their problems and their platforms.  There were big happenings at the library -- new words, new ideas filled the air.  Not everyone could understand all these new things, nor could everyone digest them.  Yet everyone felt that they could not remain indifferent to the problems of the world which demanded some sort of solution.  Everyone learned something at the library; it was our "Folks shul" (secular Jewish school), that is where we learned the ABC's of politics, world history, political economy and natural science.
We studied Herzl's "Att-Noyland" ("The Old-New Country") and Marx and Engel's "Communist Manifesto". While Berl Fridman explained Pinsker's "auto-emancipation" and awakened us to Zionism, Avram Lerman read us Borokhovls "Class Interests and the Nationalist Question" and propagandized for Labor Zionism.

There were so many ideologies and parties that the "Yugnt-Farayn" became too small to hold them all and splits occurred.  Each party tried to dominate the library and during these struggles for dominance, many books were lost and the cultural activities became splintered.  Each party "celebrated its own Sabbath" (went their own way); no new books came in and generally the young people had lost their interest in reading.

In about 1920, this is what the situation was at the Zaromb library after its founding.