The Jewish school of Lviv
« Brothers of Israel »
« Брати Ізраїлю »
Located in Cikhiv – most important residential district of Lviv, between two soviet blocks, the school 'Bratej Israelju' is the only private Jewish school of Lviv. Called in the honor of Israel – second name of Jacob, the school receive for free about sixty Jewish pupils. From 6 to 17 year-old, they follow an academic curriculum recognized as an official diploma by the Ukrainian authorities in conditions relatively better than the public schools – maximum 6 pupils per classroom. The teaching language is Ukrainian even if pupils can request for private Russian lesson. They learn also computer science, English, Hebrew and Yiddish. The teaching of Jewish traditions allow, for most of the pupils, to rediscover their inheritance.
Front of the shool
Entirely financed by private funds coming mostly from England, Israel and North America, the school stretches over 4 blocks sheltering classrooms, administration, dormitories and laboratories... A sport complex is still waiting to be built lacking some funds. Indeed, the rebuilding of the defective roof and the new computers monopolized the last donations. Hiring about thirty employees, the institution welcomes the children from 9 o'clock with a breakfast to 16h30 after snack ; ie one hour later than normal school because of extra-academic activities. Some winter and summer camps are also organized every year with the coming of pupils from Israel or North America... Those exchanges, most of the time, take place inside the school. The land around the building, indeed, offers an exceptional playground with the orchard, kid's games and basket terrain.
The parc of the school with its the orchard...
... its games for children... and its basketball terrain.
Created by Sarah Bald, the Rabbin's wife, in 1996, this school is allowed to receive 300 pupils. The director do not hide her will to see the number increase neither her joy to welcome today children of former pupils. She explains the reluctance of certain Jews of Lviv to send to Jewish school their children by the recent history of the community. Indeed, most of the Jews' descendants are today assimilated. Mixed families would rather choose discretion of a public school reminding the old fear to be categorized as Jew. Recognizing that lot of Jew does simply not know about the existing school, she counts on the word of mouth and time to see number of pupils growing.
The aim of Sarah Bald meets the one of her husband and their actions cannot be distinguished. First of all by the support they bring to needed Jews distributing food, clothes and limited financial help. They both act, one by teaching, the other by spiritual and religious opening, to pass on their vision of the Judaism. Both coming from Brooklyn, they received Jewish education far different from the Jews of Lviv. Sarah explains it perfectly when she compares her great and happy memories of her Jewish life to the “dark and dingy memories” that the old Jewish generation of Lviv keep about Jewish traditions. During the Soviet time, it was better not to show traditions and ceremonies were taking place – as all religious manifestations, on basement or very soberly.
Drawings from children of the school which symbolize the 3 fundamental dishs for the celebration of the Jewish new year which is often celebrated in all modesty : a bit of honey, one garlic, an apple and fish.
It is important for those parents of 8 children, to help people to discover the happiness to be Jew and why is it special. From the Hasidic trend, they advocate a religious practice in everyday life in interaction with reality. If this couple really believes in the possibility of change in the behavior of Jews' descendants, it is because they are conscious to live a great change in todays Ukraine and in Ukrainian population. Thus, Sarah evokes “a great period in the history when such a change takes place from the Soviet Union – communism, to freedom, to practice of religion, to be able to express ourself in a open way, in a correct way”. Adding that today, it is important that people awake that all can be done openly and honestly and that all does not necessary need to be done under the table. People can work and get back the price of their efforts. They can bloom as free persons and not anymore as “slave” as in the soviet time when they had to satisfy with beer, sausage and bread.
The action of the director – Sarah Bald, and of her husband from which it is inseparable, is fundamental for the Jewish community of Lviv. Arrived in Ukraine in 1994, they bring a happy vision of the Judaism helping by this the Jews to turn the page of the drama that constituted the second world war and by showing them that future could be happy and joyful ; all that is finally important for children and their parents, still marked by years of silence and by an inheritance today to heavy to carry.
It is the first view that we can see coming into the school. This picture says a lot about the will to live as Jew in Ukraine and to keep a Jewish as well as a Ukrainian identity.