Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

8 Sivan 5761 - May 30, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Memorial Plaque Erected on Sarah Schenirer Bais Yaakov Seminary in Cracow
by S. Fried

A memorial plaque was affixed to the building of Sara Schenirer's Beis Yaakov Seminary in Cracow at a recent stirring ceremony. It was attended by approximately a hundred women, former Bais Yaakov students from different countries.

Rabbi Yechezkel Besser of the American Agudas Yisroel was initiator of the effort to put up the plaque. Rabbi Besser is actively involved in the preservation of Jewish historical sites in Europe. During a tour of Cracow, he discovered that the building of the seminary in which Sara Schenirer had taught in 5687 (1927) is still standing. Rabbi Besser secured two rooms in the building from the Polish government. The rooms will serve as headquarters of an institute for the documentation of the Bais Yaakov idea.

Rabbi Besser felt that it was important to immortalize the building by affixing a plaque containing the building's history. The Polish government and the Municipality of Cracow approved the idea, hoping it would draw tourists and their dollars.

Mrs. Aliza Grund, Rabbi Besser's daughter, suggested that a ceremony be held, to be attended by Bais Yaakov students from all over the world. A hundred women participated in the trip, 25 of them from Israel.

Upon their arrival in Warsaw, a reception was held for the visitors in the presidential palace, attended by the president of Poland and Rabbi Besser. The president expressed his approval for the preservation of the legacy of Polish Jewry.

The group then set out for Beit Sholom, a Jewish community center adjacent to the Yocheck synagogue which still operates on a regular basis. They later visited the site of the Warsaw ghetto. It is totally plowed over today, and a monument is the sole reminder of its past.

The visitors prayed beside the ohalim of the Netziv and of the Admorim of Radomsk, Gur and others that have been recently renovated. Additional tours were held of Lublin, Gur, Lizhansk and other cities, as well as of Auschwitz.

The ceremony in Cracow, the city of the Ramo, was attended by prominent members of the city as well as by Rabbi Besser, who removed the covering from the plaque and addressed the group. The plaque has inscriptions in Hebrew, English and Polish. An excerpt of a eulogy by HaRav Alexander Zusha Friedman appears on the plaque: "A woman who was a mother to thousands and tens thousands, a caressing and a caring mother whose fervent words captured hearts: the fervor of a loving, caring mother. Favorable memories will accompany her great soul for hundreds of generations and years. May her name be remembered with praise and honor."

The English inscription says, "This building, built and dedicated in 1927, was the home of the Beth Jacob Teachers' Seminary founded in 1917 by Sarah Schenirer. It was here that daughters of Israel from many countries of Central and Eastern Europe came to study Torah. A spark kindled in Cracow grew to a flame that radiated throughout Poland and across the oceans. This light of Torah continues to illuminate the hearts and minds of Jewish girls throughout the world. Dedicated by the Sara Schenirer Commemorative Committee, Agudah Women of America, May 2001, Iyar 5761."

A synagogue will be erected on the site. In Cracow, a city of half a million residents, there are currently about 150 Jews.


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