Centropa’s AudioWalks take you on a journey through the Jewish history of Central and Eastern Europe.

Use our multimedia maps, and explore the family pictures, archival material, and personal stories of 21 Jewish Holocaust survivors to get a unique insight into Europe’s rich Jewish heritage, and to discover sites of Jewish life in towns in Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania.

building of the former girl's grammar school
building of the former girl's grammar school

Girls’ grammar school Regina Maria

Element 340
Bucureşti, 64
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In 1864, Jeanette Dubois founded a private school for girls from distinguished families in Chişinău. Initially there were only eleven students, the lessons were held in French and took place in the founder’s house. The facility grew rapidly and soon, the large building complex on the corner of today’s Puskin and Bucuresti streets, served as the school building.

After 1918, when Chişinău belonged to Romania, the school was renamed “Regina Maria” after the Queen Maria of Romania. The high school was remembered under this name in Centropa interviews, since many Jewish children attended school in the interwar period. Sarra Shpitalnik was born in Chişinău in 1928, and she was one of the students:

After finishing the fourth grade I entered Regina Maria, a Romanian school. We had good teachers. 25 percent Jewish children were allowed. There were 100 students in our ‘A’ and ‘B’ classes and among them, twelve Jewish girls in the A class and 13 in the B. We wore dark blue culottes which were knee-length, white blouses and dark blue sweaters, belts with steel badges like the military had and many other badges: the Romanian emblem, etc. Every morning my grandmother helped with my clothes: pinning the badges and muttering in Yiddish ‘noch a zwoch, noch a zwoch’: ‘one more nail and another one’.

We had religious classes. Christian girls had their own classes […] and we, Jewish girls, studied prayers with a rabbi. We studied accounting from the first grade on. Boys studied Latin and Ancient Greek, but we didn’t. We studied French from the first grade and German from the third grade. In 1940 my father decided I had to study Hebrew. Since he had no time to teach me my parents hired a private teacher. Her name was Hana Levina. I often recall her. When my parents asked her how talented I was she replied, ‘She has no special talents, but she is a very intelligent child.’ I studied the Hebrew alphabet, but when in summer 1940 the Soviets came to power, classes were cancelled.

At the same time as Sarra Shpitalnik, Zlata Tkach attended the girls’ high school. In a Centropa interview, she also remembered her school days:

After finishing elementary school, I went to the grammar school ‘Regina Maria’, on Podolskaya Street. I had a good command of Romanian by that time and was a good and industrious pupil. I mostly had excellent marks. I didn’t do so well in humanities, but I was good at certain subjects. I always had the highest marks in mathematics. Our mathematics teacher was a rough woman. When somebody gave a wrong answer she would say, ‘You have a straw head and a hole in it.’ However, our teachers were well-educated for the most part. There were a few Jewish girls in the grammar school, but I didn’t face any prejudiced attitudes. Perhaps the high level of education of our teachers explains this. The children also came from educated families: ‘Regina Maria’ was considered to be a prestigious school. There was strict discipline in the grammar school.

To this very day, parts of the building which once housed the “Regina Maria” high school are used as an educational facility.

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