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[Page 215]

The “Jugend Kommitet”
[“Youth Committee”]

Translated by Henry Tobias

The German occupation of WWI brought with it a more liberal attitude. Unemployment increased and played a part in the founding of the “Jugend Kommitet” (Youth Committee) which was a committee of the youth of Tykocin that grew as a social organization mainly within the framework of the Zionist movement.

The work of the committee was mainly welfare and cultural and was part of the Zionist activities of the town.

The main problem was finance. The merchants collected a tax from their profits for the committee. Even the anti-Zionists favoured the activities of the committee and paid 10% (tithe) of their profits to the committee.

The youth monitored the movement in the stores. At night they watched who moved stock in and out the store. Only those who like the leather merchants Joseph Zak and Alter Lipschitz who paid a permanent weekly payment were exempt from scrutiny.

From the money collected the youth founded a “Kitchen for the Needy”, which provided milk meals and even took meals to the homes.

The local German governor also helped and contributed items to the kitchen. He also allowed the distribution during curfew hours that lasted throughout German rule.

The mayor of Tykocin Ze'ev Golda sometimes gave a large bag (sack) of sugar, which was very valuable and when sold on the black market raised a considerable sum for the kitchen's treasury.

At first the work in the kitchen was done by the young volunteers. However when the workload became too much the youth distribute the food and paid 3 women to work in the kitchen.

During the typhus epidemic of 1916 the workload increased further. At first they sent the sick to the hospital in the Wysokie Mazowieckie district. However when the plague got worse and more people became ill they opened a temporary hospital in the secondary 'Beit Midrash'. When this was insufficient they turned the main 'Beit Midrash' into a hospital, where they nursed the sick, made sure the doctor visited and supplied medicines.

As well as doing the above the youth also started an 'ice house' on the empty lot of Abraham Sorwitz, that provided ice to the sick in the summer, and which was afterwards transferred to the control of 'Linat Hatzedek' that also provided financial support for the first olim [immigrants] to The Land of Israel (Palestine). This money was raised by raffles in the 'Beit Midrash' and many other activities.

 

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