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Rywka Profitkier


Rywka Profitkier born November 26, 1906 in Białystok

Rywka was a chemistry student at Stefan Batory University in Vilnius, who in February 1937 dared to take a seat on the right side of the lecture hall. Where’s the courage here? In most universities there was a “bench ghetto” initiated from the bottom up by students and supported by some lecturers. Since the 1930s, Jewish students have not been able to freely choose their place in lecture halls, but they had to occupy places on their left. In protest, most Jewish students listened to lectures standing. Since 1937, this “practice” has gained the consent of the relevant Polish minister, in practice becoming a law.

On February 26, 1937, Rywka Profitkier was attacked, scratched and brutally pushed from the university bench on the right by two female Christians. She was subsequently charged with the attack and also subjected to disciplinary action. She was eventually found guilty of the incident and stripped of her rights as a member of the academic community for a year.

Rywka, aware of the threat, deliberately opposed the classification, which gradually became the social and legal norm.