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 Vocational school for Jewish girls
Building of the former Vocational school for Jewish girls

Vocational school for Jewish girls

Element 340
Scoala auto RUTFOR, Strada Alexandru cel Bun 111
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The historic, two-story building at Strada Alexandru cel Bun 111 catches the eye with its turquoise color. Signs next to the central entrance refer to the building as a vocational school. This was its original function, too.

The school was founded in 1885 on the initiative of Bessarabian elites, and thanks to the financial support of the Mischnik family. A marble plaque inside the building recalls the generosity of Feiga and Israel Mischnik, whose portraits also hung there. The school was also given the name of Israel Mischnik. The first head of the school was the famous doctor and Zionist leader Yakov Bernstein-Kogan.

The students came from all over Bessarabia, primarily from the poorest Jewish families. The training was free, the best students received fellowships, and the school also organized free summer camps. Theoretical lessons took place on the ground floor of the building, while practical training took place in the workshops on the second floor. Among the workshops were tailor’s and a leather workshop, as well as a dental practice.

One of the Jewish students was Dora Nisman, who was born in 1912 in Rezina, a small town on the right bank of the Dniester and spent her childhood there in modest circumstances. In her Centropa interview, Dora Nisman recalled her time at the vocational school in Chișinău:

My father noticed that I was very good at sewing and told me to go to high school in Chişinău. In 1925 I went to study at trade school in Chişinău. I was 13. Our Ukrainian neighbor gave me a bag full of nuts, apples, grapes and a few Lei before my departure. It was a school for Jewish girls from poor families. We also studied Romanian in this school. We had a very nice Jewish teacher, Sima Abramovna, a teacher of history, and Kavarskiy, an artist who taught us to draw: I remember plaster figures that we painted on the wall. We were taught to sew, cut fabrics and put clothes together to fit a figure. We also made designs. This school was like a college. All our teachers were Jewish, except for our Romanian teacher and the teachers of geography and chemistry. The teaching was in Romanian. I studied there for two years and received a work certificate upon finishing this school. I rented a room with three other girls that had come from smaller towns. Our landlords were Jews and were also poor.

After completing her training, Dora Nisman moved to Chernivtsi, where she found a job in one of the trendiest boutiques in the city.

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