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[Page 167]

Kupat Gemilut Hasadim
[“Interest-Free Loan Fund”]

Dov Bernstein

Translated by Sara Mages

The idea to establish a public assistance institution in Korets was born in 1926 among a group of public figures. Their goal was to ease the difficult economic situation of our city's poor. The fund's support saved the small merchants, who constituted the decisive majority of Korets' trade, from economic collapse and hunger.

The founders of the fund were: HaRav Lidski, Dr. Zeitlin, Shmuel Switzer, Nachman Rachman, Pinchas Hendler, Herzl Frenkel, Eliezer Brandes and the writer of these lines.

We received the first funds from the JDC [American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee], who provided 50% of the investment. The other half was donated by the city's wealthy residents. We opened an office at the home of Dov Sigerman, and every evening the committee's members sat with the accountant, Mr. Brandes, seriously debated the requests for loans and also received back the loan fees.

The founders of “Kupat Gemilut Hasadim

Standing right to left: 1.Pinchas Hendler, 2. Herzl Frenkel, 3. Dov Bernstein.
Seated right to left: 1.Shmuel Switzer, 2. Dr. Yehudah Zeitlin, 3. Eliezer Brandes, 4. Nachman Rachman.

 

[Page 168]

The office of “Kupat Gemilut Hasadim

 

Initially, we distributed loans up to the amount of 100 Zloty to small merchants and shopkeepers. Although the amount was small, it still helped the needy “to stand on their feet.” With this money they prepared the goods that they sold in the markets and in the fairs. We distributed loans to 350-400 people, meaning, to almost all the small merchants and artisans in the city.

When the fund's capital increased and reached 5000 Zloty, we raised the loan rate to 200 Zloty and for a longer repayment term. We knew that the delay in the payment of a loan wasn't caused, heaven forbid, by malice. Such borrower was invited to the fund's office, and everything was arranged very well through appropriate advocacy and moral influence

From what we maintained the office? Every fund member paid a monthly tax of half a Zloty or a Zloty.

[Page 169]

The committee of “Kupat Gemilut Hasadim” in Korets

Standing right to left: 1. Mordechai Kopit, 2. Moshe Katz, 3. Yosef Markovitzky, 4. ? ,
5. Yeshayahu Ocher, 6 Tzvi Rachman, 7. ? , 8. Achiezer Roitblit.
Seated right to left: 1.Avraham Neiterman, 2. Pinchas Hendler, 3. Yosef Michelson, 4. Dov Bernstein, 5. Natzi Wilner, 6. Dov Bergel, 7. Eliezer Brandes, 8. Yitzchak Shmuelson, 9. Tzvi Himmelfarb, 10. Yehusua Reizer, 11. ? , 12. ? , 13. Shmuel Switzer, 14. Yosef Kaminstein.

 

[Page 170]

Every Sabbath we arranged Aliyot to the Torah in the fund's office. We invited the wealthy Jews and the semi- wealthy Jews, who vowed in favor of the fund. In addition, the members of the committee appeared at parties, weddings and balls, and collected donations for the fund from the participants. When visitors came to the city from America and the European countries, the fund activists collected donations for the fund from them. In this manner we covered the current expenses of the fund, and didn't use the fund's money.

Although the JDC stipulated its participation on a fixed repayment time, it didn't judge according to the letter of the law, and rarely threatened to take a legal action. The JDC increased the rate of its support, and infused additional funds to increase the cash cycle.

In light of the great poverty that prevailed in the city, the fund served as a source of salvation and welfare for many families who barely supported themselves, but never reach bankruptcy. They lived and hoped for better times, to life with ample livelihood.

Over time, there was a change of personnel in the fund's management. Tzvi Himmelfarb was placed as its leader. The committee members were: Natzi Wilner, Dov Bergel, Avraham Neiterman, Yakov Riess, Nachman Rachman, Yosef Kaminstein, Dov Bernstein, Avraham Brada and Yokel Marcus. This committee served until the Soviet occupation of our city.


The “Orphanage”

Dr. Yakov Wolach

Translated by Sara Mages

The establishment of independent Ukraine, after the First World War, was soaked in a lot of Jewish blood which was spilled by the adversaries of the Jews, Petliura's rioters, and others like them.

At a time when these horrors occurred, the battles between Bolshevik Russia and Poland ended - and the border was placed near the city of Korets. As a border city, it contained many refugees who wandered and fled from Russia and Ukraine.

Korets served as a transit station to Poland and all parts of the world for these refugees. Many lost children, survivors of the pogroms, wandered together with these refugees.

The heart shuddered at the sight of these unfortunate children. Without their parents (most of them didn't even remember their parents' names), they didn't have a shelter and a roof over their heads.

To facilitate, to some extent, the harsh and cruel fate of these orphans,

[Page 171]

a group of compassionate Jews, residents of Korets, activists with initiative and imagination, rose and rushed to their aid.

These were the generous people: Asher Tobbin, Mrs. Sonia Tobbin, Mordechai Finkelstein, Arye Bruder, Mrs. Dr. Zeitlin, Manya Herschenhorn, Sonia Seralis, Ajzek Schneider, Herzl Yocht, Asher Kliffeld, Liza Schneider, Sonia Reizberg, Munia Spielberg, Pesach Shatzigal, Chaya Shmuelson, Mordechai Kopit, Yehusua Reisser, Asher Blubstein (who served as the bookkeeper) and the writer of these lines.

Tirelessly and with great efforts, they took upon themselves to establish and maintain the “orphanage,” to support and encourage these children, and create a shelter and a roof over their heads.

The border city of Korets, a poor community, which was weakened and destroyed after the First World War, didn't have the means to maintain the institution. But thanks to the efforts and the dedication of the activists, who have invested a lot of hard work in order not to abandon these lost orphans, the institution was able to exist with dignity. They looked for all kinds of sources of income - donations, banquets, fund-raising drives that were imposed on the residents of the poor city, and appeals to various charities and philanthropists in the United States. In this manner, they gathered the necessary funds to feed the children, to dress them in warm clothes in the winter, heat the house, and most importantly, to give them the necessary education.

The “Orphanage” in Korets

 

[Page 172]

The educational work was done with great dedication by the teachers: Sima Kranzberg, Rachel Miziritzsky, Frida Kaselman, Chaika Gachman and Zirale Schneider. Children over the age of kindergarten were entered to “Tarbut” school. But mainly, we made sure to teach them a profession, and in this manner give them independence. The children were employed in carpentry, sewing and photography.

Many orphans were adopted by childless families in the United States. These children fulfilled their duty well and transferred funds to the “orphanage,” where they grew up and received their education.

The institution was located in one of the buildings in Kosciuszko Street, and around 70 orphans were educated in it. Most of them immigrated to Israel.

The institution was destroyed with the outbreak of the Holocaust and most of the activists passed away. These lines will be a memento for these generous people, who, with boundless devotion, were able to maintain this important institution with dignity.

 

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