Hawa Bresler (Breslauer) [New York]
Translated by Bill Leibner
With the opening of the Beith Yaakow school for girls in town, there began a religious awakening amongst the religious youth in Zloczew. Around the school, there organized itself a group of young woman that called themselves Daughters of the Agadath Israel. This association became very active in many areas. It organized evening courses, entertainment evenings, excursions, and sponsored lectures where teachers exposed the ideas of the movement. My brother Yaakov or Yankel was a frequent lecturer.
I remember the general conference of the Bnot Yaakow branches throughout Poland that met in the city of Lodz. We were addressed by some famous people, notably Dr. Deutschlander from Frankfurt in Germany, Dr. Ming from Vienna, Miss Rotschield from Zurich, Switzerland.. Many teachers also addressed us as did the important educator and community leader Fridensohn. He also published the journal Bnei Yaakow. [His son is presently an important leader of the Agudah organization in New York.]
This word took on a special meaning in our town. For it represented special cultural evenings where the students of the school staged song and dance presentations at the hall of the school. These evenings were very popular amongst the people in town and also amongst the student body. The school had a dramatic club that assisted the evenings by presenting productions dealing with historical and religious themes. Once, Lady Schenirer was invited to one such cultural evening.
|The Beith Yaakow production on stage
Communal and Social Organizations
Translated by Bill Leibner
A prominent role was played in Zloczew by the social organization Bikur Cholim that was deeply rooted in the Jewish religious tradition of caring for the sick. Each day, the religious Jew encounters in his prayers the commandment to care for the sick. This preoccupation indeed became part of his daily activities and he hoped to fulfill it in his lifetime. The custom of caring for the sick was so embedded in Jewish tradition that even the non-religious Jews observed it scrupulously. Bikur Cholim was apolitical and received the support of the Jewish masses. The people that were involved in the organization came from all different segments of the population. About 50 members belonged to the communal organization whose job it was to visit all the sick people in the community. Most of the latter were elderly and lonely people without families. The visits played an important role in giving these people a moral uplift on their road to recovery. The visits also provided a boost to the visitors who saw what effect their visits had on the patients. We know that a healthy person needs a friend, the sick person needs even more a human being that is willing to listen to him. As our sages said, A person that is alone can be compared to a person that is dead. To prevent this situation, the members of the communal society gave a great deal of themselves to the sick people in town.
The Caring for the Indigenous People
Another social organization that existed in Zloczew was the Chachnassat Orchim society. The tradition for this society is also deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. The society had its own building in Zloczew where it implemented its goals, notably of providing sleep accommodations for people that could not afford hotels or inns or were not able to use hotels for various reasons. The building had several rooms with beds and furnishings. The place was kept clean and orderly One could only stay in the building for three nights. This provision was instituted to prevent people from misusing the facility and destroying the purpose of the society. The three-day rule was strictly enforced. The society was apolitical and involved many people of different sectors. Most of them were devoted to helping people. Two very prominent members of the society were Itzik Jachimowicz and Yossef Rabiner. They devoted themselves to the activities of the society in Zloczew. People that used the facility expressed many warm thanks to the society.
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