This week's Yizkor book excerpt on the JewishGen Facebook page #poland #yizkorbooks


Bruce Drake
 

The beis midrash (“House of Learning”) was a central part of Jewish communities described in the Yizkor books, and many chapters are dedicated to memories of them. It was a place to study Torah that could be located in a synagogue, a yeshiva or other communal building. But it was also a place of camaraderie where, after studies were done, Jews might repair to a nearby tavern to “refresh their hearts with Akevit (Aquivit)” or the bakery whose aromas wafted through the beis midrash windows every morning.
Those pleasures is what I enjoyed in “The old Beis Midrash” from the Yizkor book of Sierpc, Poland, particularly the description of the offerings of the tavern: “Whisky, tasty herring with onions and peppers, and oil cookies freshly baked… Homemade cigarettes made from fresh yellow Russian tobacco, five for a kopeck.”
The priceless part of this excerpt is what happens when the local excise officer makes an inspection … and how the owner and fellow Jews dealt with him.


Bruce Drake
Silver Spring MD

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