SHLOYME-FAYVISH GILINSKI (December 15, 1888-September 4, 1961)
He was born in Lingmyan (Linkmenys), near Sventsyan (Svencionys), Lithuania, into a poor, working family. His childhood was spent in Duksht (Dūkštas), Dvinsk (Daugavpils) region, whence his parents moved. He studied with the best itinerant teachers in town. Secular subject matter he acquired with private tutors. At age twelve he let for Vilna. He studied there in the Gaon’s former meeting place with students and at Rameyle’s yeshiva. He left the yeshiva in 1903. In Dvinsk he built a supplementary school for children at the Talmud Torah. He taught them Yiddish, Russian, and Hebrew (all in Yiddish). In 1905 he joined the Zionist socialist party and became known as “Comrade Alter.” Because of his political activities, he was arrested in 1907 and thrown into jail for several months in Vilna. In 1910 he received a teacher’s diploma from the Vilna school authorities and settled in Warsaw. He worked as a teacher of general subject matter in the Hebrew schools of Sh. L. Gordon and Yekhiel Heilpern. He was an active leader in the Jewish teacher’s union. In 1912 he became the director of the elementary school “Ḥinukh yeladim” (lit., Children’s education—specifically for poor children), and covertly for the school authorities he introduced Yiddish as the language of instruction for all subjects. Together with Y. L. Peretz, Y. Dinezon, M. Birnboym, and Dovid Herman, in 1915 he built the first children’s home—with Yiddish as the language of instruction—later to become known as “Peretz-kinderheym” (Peretz children’s home). In the years 1916-1919, he was one of the initiators of “Shul-bukh” (school-book), an effort to publish appropriate schoolbooks in Yiddish. He was a lecturer at the gratis course for teachers, which was organized by the German occupation authorities. Together with Noyekh Prilucki and Dr. Shiye Gotlib, he issued a demand that in the printed program of the course the word “zhargon” [jargon, a pejorative term for Yiddish] was to be prohibited, and the authorities granted this. In 1919 he was one of the creators of a cultural conference which was called with the goal of linking and uniting the entire secular Jewish school curriculum in Poland. He was selected at the conference to serve on the editorial board of the pedagogical journal Di naye shul (The new school). He studied, 1919-1920, pedagogy and psychology at the Warsaw higher school, Wszechnica Polska (“Polish university”), and later spent a year at the University of Berlin. In 1921 he was one of the initiators of the first school conference that founded Tsisho (Central Jewish School Organization), and for a certain period of time he worked as an educational instructor in Warsaw Tsisho schools. He joined the Bund in 1921. He was elected in 1927 and 1938 to be a councilor on the Warsaw city council. In 1936 he was elected councilman of the Warsaw Jewish community. He chaired the workers’ committee to help return the exiled Polish Jews in Germany who were in Zvonshin. Over the years, 1926-1939, he was director and educational leader of the Medem Sanatorium in Międzeszyn, near Warsaw.
Gilinski published a great number of articles and treatises on pedagogical and community issues in Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper) in Warsaw, and in other newspapers as well. Among his books: Algemeyner shmues in folks-shul (General discussion of public school) (Warsaw, 1921), 52 pp.; Aritmetisher rekhnbukh (Arithmetic textbook), part 1, with H. Fanaberye (Warsaw, 1922), 114 pp.; Aritmetisher rekhnbukh, part 2 (Warsaw, 1922), 119 pp.; Aritmetisher rekhnbukh, for the third school year (Warsaw, 1926), 143 pp.; Aritmetisher rekhnbukh, for the fourth school year (Warsaw, 1931), 187 pp.—these arithmetic textbooks appeared in various editions as well; Gearbet un gerekhnt (Worked and figured) (Warsaw, 1923), 67 pp. He also authored a pamphlet Vi azoy lebt dos kind in medem-sanatorye (How a child lives in the Medem Sanatorium) (Warsaw, 1932), 31 pp., with illustrations. After the Medem Sanatorium had to close following the Nazi invasion, Gilinski left Warsaw in September 1939. He lived for a few months under the Soviets in eastern Poland. He later developed in Vilna, with Kh. Sh. Kazdan and Sh. Mendelson, a Tsisho action across Lithuania. When Lithuania was occupied by the Soviets, Gilinski with help from the New York Jewish Workers’ Committee traveled across Siberia and Japan, and in March 1941 he arrived in New York. In 1943 he worked as a teacher in a Workmen’s Circle school in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and in 1945 in a middle school in New York. From 1947 he was the director and executive secretary of the Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia). He served on the editorial committee of the Lerer yizker-bukh (Remembrance volume for teachers) (New York, 1952-1954), 566 pp. He was living in New York until his death.
Sources: Dr. R. Feldshuh, Yidisher gezelshaftlekher leksikon (Jewish community handbook) (Warsaw, 1939), pp. 685-86; M. Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 2 (Montreal, 1947); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Di geshikhte fun yidishn shulvezn in umophengikn poyln (The history of the Jewish school system in independent Poland) (Mexico, 1947); Kazdan, Fun kheder un shkoles biz “tsisho” (From religious and secular elementary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico, 1956); Y. Pat, “Tsisho,” in Lerer yizker-bukh (New York, 1954), pp. 465-83; Daniel Charney, A litvak in poyln (A Lithuanian Jew in Poland) (New York, 1955), pp. 74-81; Naye yidishe shul—y. l. perets (New Jewish school—Y. L. Peretz), yearbook 5 (Mexico, 1954).