Summer of 1924, Kurenets. The teacher on the left (second line) is Berl Dardak, on the right (second line) is his brother Shmerl Dardak
From the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia;
DARDAK Ieguda born 1898 Iliya, Vilna ? Author
One day, after studies, the teacher Berl Dardak announced that a letter was received from Vilna and it said, “Charut Hetria will establish branches in the ...
Israel Gvint wrote;
...For a short time there was a school with one or two classes that was managed by Yudel Dardak, where the studies were done in a combination of Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian. More wonderful memories of the great personality of Yudel Dardak stay with me than memories of the lessons.....At that point there was still a quiet war between the Hebrew and Yiddish as to what language should dominate school studies. If the Hebrew won this war it was because of the special personality of the teacher Berl Dardak.
At this point, the image of the teacher Berl comes to me. Berl came from the near-by little town of Ilya. He was short, a red head, and wore glasses. He was very easy going and kind. Even when he would get mad it was easy to imagine that he was not really angry. We knew that he wrote poetry in Hebrew, and that made him very respected in our eyes. Some of the poems became songs and they were sung by the youth from the “Tzeirey Zion”, and “Herut VeTchia”. In their essence they were humorous poems and this was very attractive to us, the young children. Although we knew that these poems were not written for children, and truly we were not allowed to sing them, but somehow we learned them secretly and they were as sweet to us stolen water.
We knew that Berl and his brothers Shmaryau and Yudel Dardak were the descendents of a well-known rabbinical family from Illya. We also knew that they had a deep education in yeshivas and were very knowledgeable about the Bible and religious studies. This fact added to the respect we felt for them because now when we had to argue with people who were old fashioned and wanted to keep the traditional type of education which was essentially religious in nature, we could argue with them that our teacher was not a nobody, he was a telmid khakham . “You must be careful when you speak against him.”
When Berl would get mad at one of us he would use biblical sentences to express his dissatisfaction. He would say, “ben naout vemrdut”. In the essence of this sentence there was everything we desired, here was a religious language turning to a “real language” where biblical passages contained emotion. Passages from the Bible became material for common phrases of reproach. At that point we had no schoolbooks in Hebrew and Berl would write his lessons on the blackboard and we would copy what he wrote in our notebooks.
Berl lived in a tiny, dark room of Shmuel Spector. In his room there was an oil lamp that burned day and night as an eternal flame. Clearly our hearts were pulled to this room which became inseparable from the school. Here many youths would gather. We sang songs and told jokes and from there we would leave for walks in Vileyka and Dolhinov streets in Kurenets. I remember one journey that some older kids took all the way to the village Retzke and of how jealous I was of my peers that followed the older students there.
Having the school in two homes so far from each other made it very difficult. After a short time they rented a home of Eltka Nee Perski Rabunski (ed. the sister of the father of Shimon Peres). This was a comparatively big house. It had three rooms, a hallway and a large yard to play in. During the holiday of Purim, just before the school was transferred to this place, we held a play there. It was King David. The play was written by Berl Dardek, who was also the director and was responsible for the clothing the scenery. The walls were taken out and the space became one big room. Still the room was too small to hold all the people who wanted to attend. When I arrived with my father, and I was one of the actors in this play, many people stood by the door looking in and all the other actors watched so that more people wouldn't try to come in. Even Batya nee Gurevitz who had the main part as Batsheva took a turn watching the entrance. My father and I could hardly make our way through the people. My father somehow succeeded in getting in and I stayed behind among the people. Since there were so many people the girl who played Batsheva (Batia nee Gurevitz Bender) couldn't see me despite the fact that I was supposed to be her son in the play, I was King Solomon. Finally my father came to my aid and picked me out of the crowd. Besides the play we recited poems in Hebrew and Yiddish and it was a big success and many of the parents in town were so impressed that they began accepting the idea of a more secular education.
HELLO! GREAT WORK! I AM YISROEL DARDAK GRANDSON OF SHMERL DARDAK FROM ILYA BELARUS. I FINALLY FOUND OUT A LITTLE OF MY HISTORY FROM THE KURENETS BELARUS ARTICLES - PAGES 108-11, 90-91, 116-117. I AM WONDERING IF YOU COULD HELP ME FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED TO MY GRANDFATHERS TWO BROTHERS BERL AND YUDEL, WHO WERE TEACHERS IN THE TARBUT SCHOOL IN KURENETS, I KNOW THAT BERL DIED IN 1935, BUT I HAVE NO IDEA HOW, AND HE WAS YOUNG, ALSO YUDEL DIED AROUND THAT TIME AND HE TOO WAS YOUNG. ALSO, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHERE THEY ARE BURIED? I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE ANY HELP YOU COULD GIVE ME IN THIS MATTER. THANX A LOT!