Jacob Dinezon’s Funeral

Haynt (Today)

Monday, September 1, 1919
Warsaw, Poland
Translated from the Yiddish by
Tina Lunson

Edited by Mindy Liberman

Dinezon Death Tributes
From Haynt, September 1, 1919

[This issue of Haynt is available online at Historical Jewish Press.]

Tributes to Jacob Dinezon

The Board of the Association of Jewish Writers and Journalists expresses sympathy in their sorrow and grief to the sister and family of the deceased honorary chair, Jacob Dinezon, his soul is in paradise.

With a broken heart, I accompany my dear brother and friend Jacob Dinezon of blessed memory to his final rest. —⁠Sh. An-ski

With the death of Jacob Dinezon of blessed memory, Peretz has died again for me. —⁠Helena Peretz

With deep sorrow, we stand before the fresh grave of our dear, beloved, and memorable old friend, Jacob Dinezon of blessed memory. —⁠Union of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Vilna.

[In Hebrew] The Society of the “Askola” Gymnasium expresses its deep sorrow on the occasion of the passing of the writer Jacob Dinezon, of blessed memory.

[In Hebrew] We express our deep sorrow on the occasion of the passing of our friend, the writer Jacob Dinezon of blessed memory. —⁠Khane and Shmuel Weinberg and Family

[In Hebrew] We express our deep sorrow on the occasion of the passing of the writer, community activist, and founder of public schools in Poland, Jacob Dinezon of blessed memory. —⁠The Pedagogical Council of the “Askola” Gymnasium

With an ache in our hearts, we mourn the passing of our unforgettable, irreplaceable, truly dedicated dear good friend, Jacob Dinezon of blessed memory. With pain and sorrow. —⁠Levi Levin-Epstein and family.

We express our deepest sorrow on the death of our friend and president of our school board Jacob Dinezon of blessed memory. —⁠The Pedagogical Council of the elementary school at Twarda 22

We express our sympathy for the family of our deceased Jacob Dinezon of blessed memory. —⁠The Pedagogical Council of the Folks-shul named after I. L. Peretz, Mila 49

Steeped in pain because of the death of our Jacob Dinezon of blessed memory, we express our deepest sympathy for the family. —⁠The Pedagogical Council of the elementary school at Nalewki 11

Together with the broad Jewish masses, we mourn the death of Jacob Dinezon, beloved writer and tireless activist in the area of the Jewish schools, his soul is in paradise. Honor his memory! —⁠Professional Jewish Teacher’s Union (Solna 1)

The Funeral of Jacob Dinezon of Blessed Memory

Yesterday’s Funeral

Yesterday’s procession of mourners was not just an ordinary funeral or a large funeral. It was a phenomenon that teaches us something. I think it was the first time that a name united around itself all of Warsaw Jewry. We have of late been so torn apart and splintered under different flags that it’s hard to believe that anything in the world could draw all of these flags to it and hold them together under one heaven. This happened yesterday. Everything that lives and has an effect on Jewry, everything that carries the stamp of whatever Jewish social and political will, came into the streets on yesterday’s rainy weekday as a way of showing their attachment to that which has become the expression of our entire renewed folk-life: Yiddish literature.

The Jewish community was cloaked in deep mourning yesterday. But at the same time, this mourning revealed power and unity. Just as the deceased was the embodiment of the people that includes all points of view and shades, just as Jacob Dinezon of blessed memory stood at the same time both within and outside all the political parties, so was yesterday a day for the entire folk [people]. —⁠A. Eynhorn

At the Home of the Deceased

Beginning very early in the morning, thousands of people came to the residence of the deceased in spite of the rain. From seven o’clock on, people were permitted in to see the coffin. A broad, unending stream of people circled the coffin and soon left the house. That went on until fifteen minutes after twelve. An honor guard stood over the coffin to keep order and prevent the public from remaining in the house. In this way, an exemplary order was maintained. From fifteen minutes after twelve, no outside people were permitted to enter the house.

Thousands of people came from all the surrounding streets so that the sidewalks of Dzielna, Karmelicka, and Nowolipki were crowded with people.

Ushers from the Grosser Club and the Peretz Club kept exemplary order around the house. The public, which filled Dzielna and Karmelicka was divided onto both sides of the street. The middle was fenced off so that the tram might operate normally.

Towards Leszno Street, the “Maccabees” kept order. Exemplary order was maintained here as well.

According to the order established earlier, all the delegations assembled at the corner of Nowolipki. The children assembled on Dzielna. Organizations gathered on the nearby streets.

The funeral procession was scheduled to leave the house at exactly one o’clock, but it was delayed because the strikers would not let through the wagon sent from the cemetery, and they insisted that they drive the wagon. That went on for half an hour until they finally had to give in and allow the striking cemetery workers the honor of carrying the body of the dead Jacob Dinezon. So the transport arrived three-quarters of an hour late.

Before the Funeral

The members of the technical committee had gathered at eight that morning at the Association of Jewish Writers and Journalists and worked out the exact plan for the order. Then the ushers all went to the site.

Meanwhile, many more delegations that had received their assigned places for the funeral were announced at the Association. Among them were delegations from the provinces.

All of the members had come to the Association and put signs of mourning on their left lapels, then gone to the house of mourning.

The Funeral

At 1:15 the closest friends of the deceased carried the casket with the body from the house of mourning. The sister of the deceased followed the coffin, followed by her daughters and grandchildren.

After the family came all the members of the Association of Jewish Writers and Journalists with their wives.

At the same time, the delegations gathered on Karmelicka. The first was a delegation of Jewish Writers and their administrators. Then the Sejm [Parliament] Deputies Gruenbaum, Farbstein, and Hirschhorn. After that were several delegations from labor organizations and workers’ societies wearing red ribbons with black inscriptions, then delegations from various unions and groups with white and black ribbons, and delegations from educational institutions and societies with different kinds of ribbons.

Among the delegations was the American mission, Messrs. Hirshfeld, Capt. Gerstenzang [the inventor of Q-Tips], and Sheyn with Dr. Bogen at the head, as well as the famous attorney Mr. Goldshteyn.

The delegations stretched the length of Karmelicka Street to Leszno. Various youth organizations kept order for the delegations and the surrounding area. There was a double chain of Maccabi [sports club] and Grosser Club ushers around the entire procession.

From time to time, trams disturbed the exemplary order of the procession, but the capable ushers quickly narrowed the chain that extended the width of the street and allowed the trams through. Except for the brutal behavior of a few passengers on the trams, there was no real disruption to the procession.

In order, the procession took the designated route: Karmelicka, Leszno, Tłomackie, Bielanska, Nalewki, and Gesia [usually pronounced Genshe in Yiddish] to the cemetery. The coffin stopped twice on Tłomackie: at the premises of the Association of Yiddish Writers and Journalists at No. 13 and at the synagogue.

Before the Cemetery

There was some disorder in front of the cemetery. The Technical Committee had foreseen that thousands of people would want to enter the cemetery even before the funeral would take place. They appointed a hundred ushers from the Folk House and Folk Club to stand in front of the cemetery from morning and not let in any outsiders. They did not come, and, in fact, even before the first delegation arrived, several thousand outsiders were at the cemetery. Thanks to this, it was impossible to allow in all the delegations that preceded the coffin, and the unusually exemplary order that reigned the whole time that the funeral traveled through the city was slightly disrupted.

Fearing a catastrophe, therefore, they decided to close the gates and not allow any more people in. Thanks to this, they were able to keep order in the cemetery.

At the Cemetery

It was only with special effort that the wagon bearing the coffin of the deceased was able to pass through the dense crowds near the cemetery. It was horribly crowded, even in the courtyard, and because of this, an argument broke out between the honorary and the regular burial attendants. Each group wanted to be the only one to do the Taharah [ritual washing] of the deceased. In spite of the demands of the representatives of the Jewish Community administration, the board of the Association decided to have the regular attendants do the Taharah in recognition of the strikers having made an exception, and the burial proceeded.

After that, the coffin was carried to the synagogue, and the cantor, Mr. Sherman, accompanied by an enlarged choir, sang the appropriate prayers.

Then the closest admirers of the deceased carried the coffin to the grave, encircled by an honorary guard.

At the Grave

It took great effort to get to the grave. The enormous crowd filled the main avenue of the cemetery leading to the grave that had been dug for Dinezon. It was difficult for the coffin and those accompanying it to make a path through the people to reach the open grave.

When the coffin had been lowered, the chairman, Mr. Shalkovitsh, spoke on behalf of the Association of Jewish Writers and Journalists at the open grave. Then Mr. Sh. An-ski, who lamented the beloved and devoted friend of all literati and the father and caretaker of many young talents.

So the unforgettable, beloved, and good Jacob Dinezon was accompanied to his eternal rest.

Around the Funeral

An unheard-of fact about our ambulance service, an institution that should serve the interests of the whole population, must be noted.

The administration of the Association of Jewish Writers and Journalists had asked the city first aid organization to send a vehicle and medical personnel because so many thousands of people would take part in the funeral, and there might be a need for urgent care. They replied that they had only one automobile. The president of the Association clarified that if they were dealing with an automobile, could they send it at exactly 12:15 (?) for the duration of the funeral. The ambulance service then refused to supply the assistance, with the stipulation that their staff was small. They replied that the committee should telephone in the case of an incident. They added that, after all, there were telephones everywhere.

It is thanks to the gracious generosity of Dr. Bogen that the Technical Committee had the use of two automobiles that helped greatly in keeping order during the funeral.

A Film Taken

The film company “Sphinx” recorded the funeral at three stages: On Karmelicka, when the coffin was brought out of the residence; on the corner of Gesia and Nalewki, where there was an overview of the entire funeral procession, and at the grave as the coffin was lowered into the grave with the family standing around it.

The film is the property of the Association of Jewish Writers and Journalists.

Expressions of Sympathy

Yesterday the Association of Jewish Writers and Journalists received many sympathy dispatches, including those from the Jewish faction of the Lodz City Council and from the editorial staff of the Lodzer togblat.

Among the delegations from outside the city was a delegate, Mr. Viner, from the Lodz Yiddish Writers’ and Journalists’ Society, and Mr. Kahan, the editor of the Lodzer folksblat. In answer to the dispatch that the Warsaw Society sent to the Lodz Yiddish Writers’ and Journalists’ Society, we received the answer from the telegraph station that there was no such address.

The Grave

The grave of the deceased is located beside the grave of the great deceased writer Y. L Peretz. While he was still alive, Dinezon had arranged a place beside his best friend, and in the last night of his life, Dinezon had expressed his wish to be laid beside Peretz and that one tombstone be placed over both of them.

His wish was fulfilled, and he was buried beside his friend.

Apparently the Last Letter that Dinezon Wrote

The teacher, Mr. Rafoel Gutman, has given us a letter that he received from J. Dinezon, dated 22 August, that is Friday a week ago, that may be the last letter that the deceased wrote before he took to his bed, from which he did not arise.

We print the letter word for word that shows the character of the deceased and the tenderness that he had toward the children.

Dear and honorable friend Mr. Rafoel ish-tov! [“good-man” in Hebrew],

I welcome the opportunity to discuss your student Shaye Peys-hard (?), the bearer of this letter. I know the boy as a smart and capable child, but I also know that he could not find a better teacher than you, and I would question why the mother wants to speak to me about putting him in a different school.

I hope you do not think it inappropriate that I turn to you with this question. I wonder whether the general orientation of your school is responsible for the mother’s looking for another school for her child (Mr. Gutman is a teacher in a gmina [community council] school. The ed.)

I am interested in the child, and as I think you and I are meyanshey shloymnu [of like mind; literally, “fellow Hasid”], I hope you will honor my request and indeed give me your advice to the benefit of the bearer of this letter.

Best regards,
J. Dinezon

Return to Research Page